Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Emergence of the Recovery Movement: Are medications taking a back seat to recovery?

In his article in today's Huffington Post, Mr. Marvin Ross refers to a recently recent report by mental health advocate Lembi Buchanan of Victoria, B.C. called Emergence of the Recovery Movement: Are medications taking a back seat to recovery? 

She points out that the popular recovery model threatens to take center stage at the expense of the urgent needs of the people diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

What sounds like a logical approach to the treatment of mental illness, recovery, is actually regressive because it does not focus on the evidence-based neuroscience of these brain disorders.

An excerpt of her report:
"Far more troublesome is what you can read between the lines of the proposed strategy. There is far too much emphasis on the “recovery model” – the notion that everyone will get better with support – and not enough emphasis on brain science. It’s a legitimate approach for those with mild and moderate mental health problems but not those with severe conditions such as schizophrenia.
In fact, reading the draft strategy, one is left with an unpleasant aftertaste: the distinct feeling that psychiatry and medications have no place in Canada’s approach to tackling mental illness.
There are distinct – and sometimes clashing – views in the mental health field. But the strategy gives too much credence to social science and not enough to neuroscience.
It also pays far too much attention to the views of “psychiatric survivors” who hide their vehemently anti-treatment views in the promotion of “peer support” and the language of “rights.”
But hope – and false hope – cannot be allowed to take the place of care. Where in the strategy, for example, is the call for investment in brain research, psychiatric beds and more addiction treatment facilities?
The draft also gives short shrift to the sickest of the sick, those with severe (and often intractable) cases of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, who often suffer from anosognosia (where people don’t even recognize they have a mental illness).
This group, while small (less than 1 per cent of those with mental illness), are those who populate our streets and prisons. They don’t need the right to refuse treatment, they need the right to be well. And their families need to be empowered to help them, not cast aside."
I happen to agree wholeheartedly.

Marvin Ross: For some with mental illness, there is no recovery

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