Let’s Learn from the Failures of US Mental Health Policies

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This is Prevention Week, part of Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S. Too bad that the policies promoted by Prevention Week’s creators, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), make it more likely that people with the most severe psychotic disorders — schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — will remain ill.

To see the problem, just imagine that you are the parent of someone you think may be developing or already has schizophrenia. You go to the SAMHSA website because this is the well-funded U.S. agency in charge of supporting treatment for mental illnesses.

You urgently need some kind of overview about schizophrenia. Let me know if you find it.

In looking for basic information about schizophrenia, you might not think to click on “What a Difference a Friend Makes.” This is because your son or daughter’s friends fled when the delusional behaviour started. Click on this anyway and you can see the one meager paragraph that I could find on the entire SAMHSA website that discusses schizophrenia. The random comments mention the use of medication.

You may have heard somewhere else that anti-psychotic medications have a good success rate in helping people recover from psychosis and maintain their sanity. I can’t find any of this research on SAMHSA’s site. However, there are numerous links, amidst the vast resources on recovery, to psychiatric survivor groups ready to explain why medications should be avoided. In the information on recovery, I couldn’t find any links to the informative list of strategies for managing schizophrenia that are easily found on the science based US National Institute of Mental Health website.

by Susan Inman, The Huffington Post

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