Thursday, July 17, 2014

Connecticut State in Mental Health Denial

Printed with permission from Shelia Gallo. Sheila Mathews is associated with AbleChild

By Sheila Matthews

The recent July 9th Ct. Mirror article, Children Stuck in Crisis, accomplishes the intended purpose of deceptively convincing the people of Connecticut that there’s a severe mental health services crisis in the state.

On the surface, the article’s author, Arielle Becker, provides a compelling scenario of the state’s youth failing to get the needed mental health care and forced to rely on emergency room services. The problem with the presentation is Becker’s failure to address a key piece of information in the reported mental-health-crisis-puzzle – the increased psychiatric drugging of Connecticut’s children.

The entire article focuses on the specific case of Peter, a 6 foot, 220 pound 13-year old, who apparently has been in the care of mental health professionals for many years of his young life. Peter is described as having “psychiatric issues and a developmental disorder that places him on the autism spectrum.”

Becker does not provide any details about Peter’s psychiatric history, including information such as when he first was diagnosed with a psychiatric mental disorder, the number of specific mental disorders he has been labeled with and, most importantly, which mind-altering psychiatric drugs he has been prescribed during his young life.

These are not unimportant questions, especially when one considers the known adverse reactions associated with most psychiatric drugs. For example, antidepressants carry the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “Black box” warnings for increased risk of suicidality. Other known adverse reactions associated with antidepressants include aggressive and abnormal behavior, hallucinations, mania and psychosis.

Other psychiatric chemical “treatments” include anti-anxiety and antipsychotic drugs, which also carry such adverse reactions as hostility, confusion, hallucinations, agitation, restlessness and tremors.

Becker, in an attempt to get to the bottom of this mental health services crisis explains that “some mental health care providers link it to an increase in the number of children with mental health needs…others see a greater willingness to recognize problems because awareness of mental illness has grown.”

What obviously is missing from the list of reasons for the “crisis” is the increased prescribing of dangerous psychiatric drugs. In fact, the only mention of any psychiatric drug “treatment” comes at the end of the article when Becker finally reveals that Peter was seen by psychiatrists at the Institute of Living and “his medication was changed.” That’s it. Pathetically, that is the extent of the conversation about psychiatric drugging.

But the lack of important information doesn’t end there. Becker also does not provide any information about all the previous failed attempts to “fix” Connecticut’s broken mental health system. For example, in 2008, lawmakers attempted mental health fixes through the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health – “Connecticut’s Mental Health and Transformation State Incentive Grant.”

This $13 million dollar “fix,” as explained by Project Director, Pat Rehmer, as “Transformation efforts and activities are broad based and far reaching as they have been implemented across multiple state agencies offering the state’s citizens an array of accessible services and supports that are culturally responsive, person and family-centered.”

Certainly sounds like this “fix” should have helped Peter but, alas, it is another costly, failed mental health Band aid. Not surprisingly, this “transformation” also did not address the ever-increasing use of psychiatric drugs for “treatment” of Connecticut’s children.

Is it any wonder, then, that the “crisis” not only exists, but is worsening? The people of Connecticut still are not getting accurate information, and it is these omissions that render this article irrelevant in the debate for increased mental health services.

Ignoring important information does not benefit those who are suffering, nor does it help those in a position to make the necessary, and deadly serious, changes that are needed.
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