What is at the heart of a new demand for mental health legislation in Florida? Obviously, Floridians love to help. Most all of us would stop and assist a lost child, happily provide food to hungry veterans or provide holiday gifts to families in need. Seemingly it is in the nature 98 percent of the world’s population to help our fellows. Those of us in Florida are no different.
But are psychiatrists and mental health workers actually helping their patients? This is wildly debatable, even within their own ranks.
This quote from The Sun Sentinel illustrates a point:
“In Titusville, a mentally ill man randomly shot and killed an elderly patient and employee at a hospital. The shooter had previously been arrested and taken into custody for mental health evaluations multiple times.” 1
A usual part of a “mental health evaluation” is a treatment plan. Was this mentally ill man prescribed one (or several) psychotropic drugs? Even if he were not on a psychiatric medication, how accurate could the evaluation and treatment have been, since it ended with a double murder?
Psychiatry Admits Inability to Cure
The profession of psychiatry admits their helplessness to permanently improve the lot of the mentally distressed, as in this statement made in Psychology Today “…regardless of any scientific breakthroughs looming on the horizon, the treatment for mental illness tomorrow, will look pretty much like it does today. Mentally ill persons will still need a coordinated team of professionals to deliver adequate care. We will still need psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, financial assistance programs, outreach teams and crisis intervention. There will still be sticky court cases regarding ‘forced’ treatment. Psychiatric hospitals, outpatient offices and emergency rooms will still be there.” 2
Numerous psychotropic drugs have been linked to violent behavior and other disturbing side effects. In a Time article from 2011, nine out of the top 10 drugs associated with violence are psychiatric drugs. 3
Psychiatric Drugs: An Elephant in the Room
The English idiom “Elephant in the room” perfectly describes the phenomena of legislative and public blindness to this disturbing and tragic situation. Many find it hard to believe that their doctor would ever prescribe something that could potentially cause harm.
While psychiatry lobbies for legislation to protect and expand their questionable activities, some in their rank are attempting to reign them in.
In a 2016 Psychology Today interview, psychiatrist Peter Breggin states,
“When taken for months or years, all psychiatric drugs can seriously damage the brain, prevent recovery, and ruin the individual’s quality of life.”
In this same interview Dr. Breggin speaks of his court victories in testifying for those harmed by psychiatry. “I am proud to have been the medical or psychiatric expert in the very first malpractice trial victories involving electroshock (ECT) and psychosurgery, and more recently, many cases involving the adverse effects of psychiatric drugs such as tardive dyskinesia (a movement disorder caused by antipsychotic drugs), and murder and suicide caused by antidepressants, stimulants, and benzodiazepines.” 4
Alternatives to Psychiatric Treatment
There may be inertia in the United States in changing how the profoundly mentally ill are treated.
But one shining example our own country might follow is that of the town of Geel, in Belgium. For centuries, the severely mentally disturbed have lived in Geel, boarding with people who take them in and watch over them. They are not treated with drugs or electroshock therapy. They are not called patients, they are called “boarders.” They are happy, proving once and for all that there are humane ways to deal with the truly mentally ill. 5
For the millions of people falsely labeled with a mental disorder and prescribed harmful pharmaceuticals, education into the side effects with stress on alternative and natural treatments is key. For instance, there is strong evidence that fish oil can manage depression. 6
We don’t need more Mental Health Legislation. Many would argue we need the opposite, legislation to reign in psychiatry and protect Florida citizens from its potential abuse.