I want my daughter's best interests to be represented by the numerous disability rights organizations that have appeared in recent years. Sadly, these organizations, like the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, too often promote policies that pose real dangers to her. It's important to understand why a group like this would decide to hold these positions.
To the people who care about them, once this young person chooses "the other way", all the people around them see is the consequences. "Didn't you know that if you did "X" you would end up "Y"". It is understandable for those around you to feel this because the process of suffering is so often done in the dark. The sufferers try to protect those around them and some feel that by minimizing it, it may go away.
Helping people to live life beyond the limitations of a mental illness with a sense of dignity, purpose, hope and meaning is called recovery. The hope of recovery changes everything: how we view the person, how we address stigma and discrimination and how we make mental health services accessible and available.
The trouble is, there is no recipe book for prescribing psychiatric medications. Every individual is unique, so with the guidance of their doctor, patients must find the treatment that's right for them. If a drug makes them feel worse, it's not the right drug, but that doesn't mean there are no other options. The right treatment must be found and sometimes that takes time, effort and creativity. Feeling like a zombie is never an acceptable outcome.
I've been waiting a long time for a book like"How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist." Written by psychiatrists David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden, this book is the most thorough account I have seen of the thinking process, or what should be the thinking process, of contemporary psychiatrists. And it can change the entire way you go about asking for, and receiving, help from a mental health professional.
When governments don't want to do something but want to give the appearance of doing something, they set up a task force or committee to investigate and bring back a report. It looks good to some but does nothing and that is what so many jurisdictions do. Maybe it is because I live in Ontario, but this province is the master when it comes to this.
I tell my patients, "Mental illnesses are medical illnesses, like diabetes or heart disease." Most of them struggle to believe me because they know that many people, even people who love them, think they can just "get over" their illnesses. And they're equally as hard on themselves. So let's talk about what causes mental illness, and why that question (and answer) are pretty complicated.
New genetic research just announced is being seen as a major breakthrough in understanding the cause of schizophrenia. However, in my opinion, this research should go a long way to improving how those with this disease and their families are perceived, in silencing the anti-psychiatry crowd and in convincing health systems to do more.
In mental illness, we are constantly mixing apples and oranges. The causes are not the same and neither are the treatments. When we lump them together we create more confusion. And when there is lack of clarity, we tend to fill the gaps in knowledge with myths, superstitions, and mistaken attributions. That's when the quacks come out.
A growing trend in the delivery of mental health services is the use of peer support workers. Peers, who have themselves experienced some kind of mental illness, can help meet some of the many needs that people with the most severe mental illnesses have. However, various ideological agendas have led the internationally powerful peer support movement in questionable directions.
Families in Canada fighting for evidence-based care for relatives living with psychotic disorders should see the tenacity of the American families. And Democratic Americans abroad, like me, can let our representatives know that we want the mental health system to begin to meet the needs of people with the most severe illnesses.
Conversations about cannabis policy are heating up. So it's no surprise that we suddenly seem immersed in claims and counterclaims on a slew of topics related to cannabis use and regulation. The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy has tasked itself with determining the strength of scientific support for such claims. Over the past year, we've been working diligently on scanning the news media and online conversations about cannabis to identify the most oft-repeated or high-profile claims including the ones above related to its use and regulation.
Allowing someone with schizophrenia to remain in a psychotic state is cruel and harmful to the person, but that is what happened in a recent drug trial. But that is what happened in a trial conducted by Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Lundbeck Pharmaceutical to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. earlier this year.
Two recent books by high profile psychiatrists provide readers with background knowledge that is essential in shaping our own responses to one of the biggest social problems of our times: severe mental illnesses. Now that psychiatrists are increasingly willing to enter into the messy public arena, it's up to the public to see what we can do with the information they are providing.