Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Be careful what you wish for

from Harry Magnet's Blog

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bipartisan Push for Better Mental Health Care Won’t Be Helpful

In the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, with memories of the Aurora movie theater shooting, the Gabby Giffords shooting, and the Virginia Tech shootings still in mind, people demanded that the U.S. Congress do something. These shootings, along with many others, were perpetrated by mentally ill individuals. Liberals wanted more gun control. Conservatives wanted more armed guards and armed civilians to take down the shooters. The divided congress was unable to pass a gun control measure. But apparently liberals and conservatives were able to agree on one thing, according to a recent New York Times article: better care for the mentally ill. According to the article, “[t]he emerging legislation would, among other things, finance the construction of more community mental health centers, provide grants to train teachers to spot early signs of mental illness and make more Medicaid dollars available for mental health care.” There would also be support for children who faced trauma, and suicide prevention initiatives. Approximately 1.5 million additional people with mental illness would be treated each year.

This is a good, thing, right? What’s there to complain about more mental health treatment? There’s nothing to complain about, if one believes in the current drug-based model of care. Treatment in this context will be primarily psychoactive drugs. The community mental health center will recruit and encourage people to see a doctor and get a prescription for a psychotropic medication. Teachers will spot early signs of ADHD, depression, and bipolar disorder in children, and put the children on the road to chronic stimulant, antidepressant, and antipsychotic drug treatment. Medicaid is notorious for drugging up the children who rely on it for health care. Suicide will be prevented by prescribing antidepressant drugs. The vast majority of the 1.5 million additional treated people will be prescribed drugs.

After reading Anatomy of an Epidemic (which I review here), I stopped believing that psychotropic drugs are an effective long-term solution for most mental disorders. The evidence is just not there.  

Read the rest of Harry Magnet's thoughtful post here He illustrates his argument using the homeless problem in Salt Lake City

Editor's comment: I always get nervous when people want the government to DO SOMETHING! in the face of recent tragedies. It an overreaction that invariably results in bad policies, bad legislation.

1 comment:

  1. And ObamaCare is going to make all of this even worse - with more Medicaid dollars going to fund low-income children diagnosed with mental disorders.

    Sometimes I think the federal government breaks everything it touches - including the lives of the "severely mentally ill."

    The states occasionally get things right, but rarely the feds. They're too big, too removed, too out-of-touch, too bureaucratic...

    And too out of touch with the real lives of people with children!



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