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Thursday 26 March 2015

DANGER - TEACHERS IN U.S. TO ASSES CHILDRENS' MENTAL HEALTH - A New Bill Paves the Way for this Systemic Lunacy - by Jay Syrmopoulos - March 2015 Courtesy of the Free Thought Project

Dallas, Texas – Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) is once again in the spotlight after submitting yet another Orwellian proposal, H.B. 985.
Villalba first raised the ire of civil libertarians by proposing a bill, H.B. 2006, which would have eliminated the religious exemption for vaccination, essentially creating a forced government vaccination program without exception.
More recently, Villalba was thrust into the national spotlight when he proposed H.B. 2918, which would usurp citizens of the ability to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. The bill would negate the people’s ability to create an accurate and impartial record of police interactions by restricting citizens from filming within 25 feet of an officer.
Now with H.B. 985, Villalba intends to give school officials the authority to force psychological screenings of students that teachers and staff diagnose as having mental health issues.
Once the process is set in motion by school officials, parents would be forced to take their child to a mental health professional within 30 days, under threat of suspension of the child from school.
“ …the requirement that the parent or guardian, before the expiration of the 30-day period, to avoid suspension of the student under this section, take the student to the nearest local mental health authority or a physician specializing in psychiatry to receive a mental health screening and a certificate of medical examination for mental illness, as described by Section 533.03522(c), Health and Safety Code, that contains the examining physician’s opinion that the student is not a danger to self or others.”
While under suspension the child would still receive an education, but they would be sent to an “alternative school.”
School administrators would be required under the law to provide the student’s name, address, and information regarding the complaint to the local mental health authorities and the police department upon verification of the complaint.
(i) A school counselor or a principal who receives notice
under. Subsection (b) about a student who subsequently is subject to
a notice of intent to suspend under Subsection (g) shall:
(1) provide the student’s name and address and
information concerning the conduct or statement that led to the
notice of intent to suspend to:
(A) the school district police department, if the
school counselor or principal is employed by a school district and
the district has a police department;
(B) the police department of the municipality in
which the school is located or, if the school is not in a
municipality, the sheriff of the county in which the school is
located; and
(C) the local mental health authority nearest the
Teachers have enough on their academic plates without them being forced to become armchair psychologists in the classroom.
Also, it is highly inappropriate and dangerous for unqualified teachers to play the role of child psychiatrists. Unless they’ve had special training and are certified to diagnose the disorders, it can also be illegal.
We are already witnessing the damage caused by parents believing teachers who think that every child who acts out in their classroom has ADHD. It’s called The Ritalin Explosion.
The idea that students’ personal information would be submitted to mental health facilities and police departments for complaints initiated and investigated by only school officials also causes serious concern.
Is it really necessary to criminalize kids based upon a teacher’s unprofessional assessment of a kids mental health? And what about the student that is mentally healthy, but simply defiant?
Perhaps rather than attempting to legislate away this perceived problem by criminalizing “problem” children, there is a better way. Villalba would have been better served by using his position to help create a program to build sustainable bridges of communication between parents and administrators that assist in identifying and combating mental health problems in students.
Instead, like so many tyrants before him, Villalba tries to solve complex problems using the force of the state.

Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.

Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/bill-teachers-diagnose-psychological-issues-children-report-police/#DVogT6JYEfGk3LG7.99

Sunday 15 March 2015

30+ States in U.S. are making it harder to drug children with anti-psychotics = GOOD NEWS - Courtesy of the MadinAmerica website March 2015

Thirty-one US states have implemented some kind of "prior authorization" policies to try to rein in the unnecessary prescribing of antipsychotic medications to children, according to a research letter in JAMA. However, the impacts of those policies should be studied, because they could be backfiring, stated the researchers.
Over the past two decades, antipsychotic prescribing to children and youth has increased about seven-fold, from an estimated 0.16 percent in 1993-1998 to 1.07 percent in 2005-2009, according to a JAMA press release about the study. "Antipsychotic use is also 5-fold greater in Medicaid-insured youth than in privately insured youth, and occurs mostly for indications not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."
Governments have made efforts to rein in the trend. "Such efforts have included age­-restricted prior authorization policies, which require clinicians to obtain pre-approval from Medicaid agencies to prescribe atypical antipsychotics to children younger than a certain age as a condition for coverage," stated the press release. Sometimes, the policies may even require peer review of specific cases.
Led by University of Maryland researchers, the team reviewed all of the prior authorization policies.
"The researchers found that 31 states have implemented prior authorization policies for atypical antipsychotic prescribing to children, mostly within the past 5 years," stated the press release. "Most states apply their policies to children younger than 5, 6, or 7 years of age. Only 7 states (Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee) apply their policies to Medicaid-insured youth up to age 18 years. Seven other states (California, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Washington) have age-restriction criteria that vary by drug entity."
The authors suggested that the effect of the policies should be examined. "(The) potential unintended consequences of these restrictive policies include inadequate treatment, substitution of potentially inappropriate, off-label psychotropic medication classes such as anticonvulsant mood stabilizers and antidepressants, and administrative burden on prescribers," stated the press release.
The researchers also argued that more could be done to improve practices. "Medicaid oversight programs should be concerned not only with unnecessary antipsychotic use, but also should ensure adherence to appropriate cardiometabolic monitoring practices at baseline and during antipsychotic treatment, and support access to alternative evidence-based nonpharmacological treatments."
Schmid I, Burcu M, Zito JM. Medicaid Prior Authorization Policies for Pediatric Use of Antipsychotic Medications. JAMA. 2015;313(9):966-968. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.0763. (Excerpt)

Friday 13 March 2015

NEUTRALISING SUFFERING - How Medicating Distress Obliterates Meaning and Creates Dependent Markets of Vulnerable Groups - a great article by Joanna Moncrieff in Mad in America.

Neutralising Suffering: How the Medicalisation of Distress Obliterates Meaning and Creates Profit

People have used psychoactive substances to dull and deaden pain, misery and suffering since time immemorial, but only recently, in the last few decades, have people been persuaded that what they are doing in this situation is rightly thought of as taking a remedy for an underlying disease. The spread of the use of prescription drugs has gone hand in hand with the increasing medicalization of everyday life, and a corresponding loss of the previous relationship that people had with psychoactive substances.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Mary Barton was originally to be named after Mary’s father John Barton, a working class factory hand addicted to opium1. The novel depicts the unimaginable poverty and exploitation of industrial Manchester that made opium-induced oblivion an appealing escape. Although Gaskell clearly disapproved of John ‘s addiction, the reader is left in no doubt that opium use in 19th century Britain was a symptom of a deep social malaise. John is a victim of his social environment, coupled with the overwhelming grief of losing his beloved wife, both of which are understood to have contributed to John’s gradual decline into drug-induced torpor and belligerence.
Nowadays, John Barton would undoubtedly be diagnosed with depression, and he would be offered Prozac and Zopiclone in place of opium. He would be told that although ‘social factors’ might have precipitated his feelings, he suffered from an underlying chemical imbalance, which drugs could help to remedy. Instead of taking a substance whose properties he was familiar with, however destructive they turned out to be, he would be taking something whose effects on the human psyche have never been properly investigated, and are barely even described. He would be discouraged from evaluating how the drugs affected him, from working out whether they helped or hindered his daily activities, or whether their effects were pleasant or disagreeable. Moreover, by suggesting that the problem lay in his brain, he would be led to believe that the circumstances he lived and worked in, the loss of his wife and the loss of his job were merely incidental details, and that challenging his situation would be quite pointless and irrelevant to his state of mind. When the first lot of pills inevitably failed to eradicate his despair, he would be offered other miracle cures to enhance or replace the first ones.
Readers of the modern version of Mary Barton would not be roused to righteous ire and indignation about the state of the urban poor, as the readers of writers like Gaskell and Dickens were intended to be. They would only pity the unfortunate character whose defective make-up led to his downfall.
We have been fed a myth about the nature of psychiatric drugs for decades now, the myth that they can rectify mental disorders by targeting an underlying mechanism. We have been told that they are specific treatments, in the same vein as insulin for diabetes, which act by reversing the abnormalities that give rise to the symptoms of a particular disorder.  As this idea has taken root we have come to understand more and more of our daily troubles in terms of our brain chemicals2, in the process further contributing to the demise of the previous lay understanding of the nature of psychoactive substances and how they modulate psychological states.
Drugs have now been starkly divided into the good and the bad: the prescribed medication which people must take however awful it makes them feel, and the ‘recreational’ substances that are increasingly and often hysterically vilified3. At the same time that people are told they should not stop taking their antidepressant, they are constantly reminded of the dangers of alcohol and cannabis. People are encouraged to seek licit and prescribed emotional suppressants, but disparaged (and prosecuted if it’s the wrong substance) for seeking pleasure through chemical means. The modern citizen is caught in a constant flux of contradictory messages.
David Healy has described the transformation of ‘everyday nerves’ over the early 1990s through the marketing of the new Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants like Prozac and Seroxat4. Problems that had previously been conceived of as anxiety, to conform to the stereotypes portrayed in the marketing of benzodiazepines, started to be understood as a mood disorder, and the notion of ‘depression’ expanded to encompass almost all forms of dissatisfaction and discontent. The drug companies were careful to market their new range of drugs for depression as medicines, which worked by reversing the individual’s defective biochemistry. The tardy acknowledgment that the benzodiazepines were dependence-inducing, coupled with criticism of their widespread use as a chemical pacifier for the over-burdened or frustrated usually female recipient, had threatened to bring the whole enterprise of the mass treatment of common-or-garden misery into disrepute. The SSRIs had to be presented as something different, as a new and miraculous cure for a bona fide disease, a disease which by mysterious coincidence had only been fully recognised when the SSRIs arrived on the scene. So the drug companies went about marketing the serotonin theory of depression, sweeping much of the psy professions along with them, with only a few lonesome voices belatedly pointing out that the emperor had no clothes5.
The success of Prozac inspired a frenzy of activity, with companies vying to take a piece of the massive antidepressant market. When the capacity for persuading people they were depressed was saturated, new disorders were promoted to draw in further swathes of the population and extend the patents on the new antidepressants. Disorders like social anxiety disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder were promoted by glitzy campaigns orchestrated by public relations companies masquerading as grass-roots organizations6.
In the late 1990s the makers of atypical antipsychotics started to eye this market too, and set about constructing an essentially new problem, which they concealed under the old concept of ‘manic depression’. The new thinking suggested that ‘depression was only half the story’7 (P 190), and that emotional ups and downs were a pathological condition which went under the rubric of ‘bipolar disorder’. People were encouraged to monitor their moods with ‘mood diaries’ to detect the condition, and hoards of people started to identify their experiences in this way, egged on by the endorsement of celebrities like Stephen Fry.
Eli Lilly obtained a licence for the use of Zyprexa in bipolar I disorder (the new name for the old concept of manic depression) in 2000, but the target population was never the small number of people with this rare and serious condition. The target, as revealed in advertisements as well as the leaked internal documents known as the ‘Zyprexa papers,’ was the huge population of people who currently identified themselves as depressed, worried, unhappy, unstable, or almost anyone who could be persuaded there was something wrong with their life8.
‘Zyprexa balances the chemicals naturally found in the brain’, we are told of Lilly’s new blockbuster9, a statement that provides no hint of the serious metabolic consequences, massive weight gain and brain volume reduction the drug can produce10, or the large settlements Lilly has made with litigants in the United States and Canada11.  Lilly is not alone. The makers of Seroquel, another ‘atypical’ antipsychotic have also positioned their product in the depression and bipolar market, successfully ensuring that it too becomes one of the top-selling drugs of all time12. The combination of obtaining licences for vague and easily expandable conditions, with illegal marketing for unlicensed indications13 has ensured that the antipsychotics, once reserved for the treatment of the most severely disturbed, have broken out of the now metaphorical asylum and into the community. They are the newest ‘opium of the people.’
People living in western societies may no longer suffer from the desperate material deprivations of the likes of John Barton, but the demands and pressures of modern life, the competitiveness, the performance management, the increasing insecurity, the inequality, the constant broadcasting of wealth, extravagance and power into the homes of ordinary people, contribute to a society where everyone feels inadequate and dissatisfied, and no one is secure:  fertile ground for the pharmaceutical industry and the psy professions. From this point of view, John Barton’s tragedy was that in revenging himself on the mill owner’s son, he left the system not only intact, but strengthened. At least he did not think the enemy was his brain!
This essay was first written as a tribute to Professor Mark Rapley, RIP, for a special memorial edition of Clinical Psychology Forum.
(1) Gaskell E. Mary Barton. London: Penguin Books; 1848.
(2) Rose N. Becoming neurochemical selves. In: Stehr N, editor. Biotechnology, Commerce and Civil Society.New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers; 2004. p. 89-128.
(3) DeGrandpre R. The Cult of Pharmcology. How America became the world's most troubled drug culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press; 2006.
(4) Healy D. Shaping the intimate: influences on the experience of everyday nerves. Soc Stud Sci 2004 Apr;34(2):219-45.
(5) Lacasse JR, Leo J. Serotonin and depression: a disconnect between the advertisements and the scientific literature. PLoS Med 2005 Dec;2(12):e392.
(6) Koerner BI. Disorders made to order. Mother Jones 27[July/August]. 2002.
(7) Healy D. Mania: a short history of bipolar disorder. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press; 2008.
(8) Spielmans GI. The promotion of olanzapine in primary care: an examination of internal industry documents. Soc Sci Med 2009 Jul;69(1):14-20.
(9) Eli Lilly. How Zyprexa works. www zyprexa com/schizophrenia/pages/howzyprexaworks aspx 2011 [cited 2011 Mar 25]; Available from: URL:www.zyprexa.com/schizophrenia/pages/howzyprexaworks.aspx
(10) Dorph-Petersen KA, Pierri JN, Perel JM, Sun Z, Sampson AR, Lewis DA. The influence of chronic exposure to antipsychotic medications on brain size before and after tissue fixation: a comparison of haloperidol and olanzapine in macaque monkeys. Neuropsychopharmacology 2005 Sep;30(9):1649-61.
(11) Boyle T. Class action settlement in drug for schizophrenia. healthzone ca 2010 June 30 [cited 12 A.D. Nov 30]
(12) Thase ME, Macfadden W, Weisler RH, Chang W, Paulsson B, Khan A, et al. Efficacy of quetiapine monotherapy in bipolar I and II depression: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study (the BOLDER II study). J Clin Psychopharmacol 2006 Dec;26(6):600-9.
(13) United States Department of Justice. Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to pay record $1.415 billion for off label drug marketing. www justice gov/usao/pae/News/Pr/2009/jan/lillyreleaase pdf 2009 January 15:1-4

BUYING AND SELLING EATING DISORDER - By Allen Frances in Huffington Post March 2015

A drug company recently received FDA approval to peddle its speed-like pill for 'Binge Eating Disorder' (the very same pill that is already widely overused for ADHD). And it is sparing no expense pushing the drug -- a former world tennis champ is the shill and commercials are everywhere.
Five years ago, I predicted Binge Eating Disorder would become a new fad diagnosis and a wonderful target for Pharma disease-mongering. I tried to convince the DSM-5 group to drop it, but failed. Now we are off to the races.
My prediction is that, with a massive marketing campaign behind it, BED will become one of the most common of all diagnoses. Millions of people will be mislabeled as mentally ill and treated with unhelpful, and potentially harmful, diet pills.
The first suggestion to make 'BED' an official diagnosis was made 25 years ago, by eating disorder experts working on DSM IV.
They reported seeing patients who they felt needed help for binge eating, but who didn't fulfill the full criteria for Bulimia Nervosa. BN required that eating binges be compensated for with dieting, vomiting, laxatives, or intense exercise. 'BED' would be for those who binged without compensation and were therefore more likely to be overweight or obese.
We had a high threshold for including new disorders in DSM-IV and 'BED' didn't come close to making the cut. There was virtually no research to back it up.
Three things have changed in the ensuing years to turn BED from clear reject to bright star.
First, a few more studies were done. But they would not have satisfied the high DSM-IV standard for including a new diagnosis. Because creating a mental disorder often leads to unintended harmful consequences, we should always have substantial, supportive research on its risks and benefits. Instead, DSM-5 was flying mostly blind.
Second, DSM-5 had radically lowered the bar for including new diagnoses, giving its experts free rein to promote their pets. The few, largely uninformative studies that would have badly flunked the DSM-IV test breezed through DSM-5.
The head of the DSM-5 Eating Disorders Workgroup is a smart, honest, and decent man who had the same role in DSM-IV. When I repeatedly warned that he was creating a target for diet pill disease mongering, he replied that his job was just to judge the science. Any possible misuse of BED was an "educational issue."
This didn't make sense then and the careless FDA approval has since given him buyers remorse. The science was weak. The risks as clear as the nose on your face. The 'education' would mostly be done by drug companies to enhance profits, not help patients.
Three, the FDA approved a BED indication and the marketing of the diet pill after an expedited review of two small, very inadequate, short-term treatment trials. The FDA is heavily funded by the drug industry it is supposed to regulate. It now works much more for the corporations than for the public. The foxes guard the henhouse.
The experts working on DSM-5 did not include BED because they wanted to help the drug companies. They were worried about missed patients and blinded by an intellectual conflict of interest. Experts always overvalue the research in their area and want to broaden its boundaries.
They need adult supervision by people who are more objective and less subject to diagnostic exuberance. DSM-5 failed to provide it.
The BED diagnosis and meds may be helpful for the few, but will almost surely be misused to mislabel and overtreat the many.
In Greek myth, Cassandra was cursed with the gift of seeing the future without having any power to change it. I know the feeling. What a mess.
Allen Frances is a professor emeritus at Duke University and was the chairman of the DSM-IV task force.

PERSONALITY DISORDER A 'CATCH ALL' DSM-5 CATEGORY - Could you recognise a personality disorder?

Could you recognise a personality disorder?

Two girls in a Kerry school conducted survey of fellow students to investigate their awareness of PDs

Sinéad O’Sullivan and Aoibhin O’Neill conducted a survey to investigate awareness of personality disorders.
Sinéad O’Sullivan and Aoibhin O’Neill conducted a survey to investigate awareness of personality disorders.
The word “personality” refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviour that makes each of us an individual. Our personality develops throughout our lives. However, people who experience a PD may find it more difficult to modify their behaviour, and hence cope with everyday life.
There are 10 types of PD: paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive (not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder)
I am a fifth-year student at Coláiste na Sceilge, in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry. Along with my classmate Aoibhin O’Neill I conducted a survey among students in my school to investigate their awareness of PDs.
We gave 60 participants a list of the 10 different types of PDs, and asked if they had heard of these mental disorders. Of those surveyed, 95 per cent hadn’t heard of any PD, and only 2 per cent said they had been exposed to information about PDs in the media.
We conducted another survey among a different group of students to find what young people perceived a PD to be. The three most common disorders they mentioned were bipolar (29 per cent), depression (16 per cent) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD; 11 per cent), However, none of these disorders are PDs, which significantly highlighted the lack of PD awareness among this sample.
We came up with the idea of compiling a guidebook about PDs. This would include the signs, symptoms and treatment options for each type of PD; and tips and self-help for those experiencing PD, and their loved ones.
In addition, we set up a Facebook page for the project and created our own hashtag to promote awareness about PD, ‘#PDawareness’. This project, entitled “Personality Disorders: Improving Awareness Amongst Young People”, qualified to take part in the 2015 BT Young Scientist. Once the guidebook was completed it was shared on our Facebook page. Mental Health Ireland also shared it, as did the Personality Disorders Awareness Network (PDAN), which gave us guidance throughout our project.
We tested the effectiveness of our guidebook with a survey consisting of a piece about Borderline PD, which outlined the symptoms along with the positive outcomes of treatment and seeking help (taken from our guidebook). We asked 60 participants whether they would seek help for (1) themselves (82 per cent said yes), (2) a family member (94 per cent said yes), and (3) a close friend (88 per cent said yes).
From these results it can be concluded that our guidebook is helpful in not only informing people about PD in a positive way, but also helpful in getting people to seek help if they spot signs of a PD in themselves or others. Fewer people said they would seek help for themselves, and this is often the case with people reluctant to seek support due to fear of stigma and being judged, and also being socially excluded for being mentally ill.
Our Facebook page reached over 1,100 likes by January. Our project received a fantastic response from the judges and public at the BT Young Scientist, with doctors and psychologists being among the attendees. We were visited by a friend of a sufferer of BPD, who stated that people don’t understand his friend’s condition, and that our project was most certainly needed.
Since the response at the exhibition I am determined to further increase awareness of PD in Ireland. I am currently working on a project for SciFest, where I’m investigating a possible link between personality disorder traits and how people feel and behave in relation to substance and internet use. Taking part in the BT Young Scientist exhibition was a phenomenal experience, and it has really opened my eyes to the importance of young people working to find solutions to everyday problems.