Dear johnsmom, I hope you are well.
If you look at their material and work, the anti-psychiatry movement is for people who have been dx’d with MI who are very high functioning. The leaders of this movement are not doctors and do not present treatment models or safe situations for people who are deep in psychosis or depression or mania. They blame anti-psychotics for homelessness and people being jailed, however, the vast majority of people with mental illness who become homeless or go to jail are not in treatment and do not take meds, have never taken meds.
“The fact is you’re talking to a healthy person who thinks they are sick,” says one protestor. “Face your problems head on like a man,” is another quote. If these quotations do not convey prejudice and misunderstanding against people with serious mental illness who need services and supports (whether or not they take medicine), then I don’t know what does.
Serious mental illness, whatever its etiology, sometimes disables people. Medications help some individuals with SMI, not all. Even with effective medication, some remain disabled. This movement does not provide any support for people with serious mental illness; it leaves them homeless and in prison. Millions continue to suffer without social supports. The anti-psychiatry movement does not even propose supports for people who are debilitated or disabled by these illnesses.
I agree with the criticisms of a broken mental health care system (a person waiting 24 hours in an ER), but think what would happen to people with absolutely nowhere to turn during crisis, no ERs or hospitals, nothing. Where would they go? What would they do? They would wind up arrested and put in jail (A person with SMI who is arrested typically spends five times longer in jail than an average person arrested for the exact same crime.) or maybe on the streets or possibly among the ten to fifteen percent of people who die of SMI.
We need a true mental health care system. I am 100% for the rights of people with mental illness; that is why I wrote what I did – why force people into non-existent treatment? I still think it’s better than nothing. If you look at the statistics and the stories on this site, you will find that there are people whose symptoms compromise their well-being and safety, who have nowhere to go, and are certainly not telling doctors or anyone else they are “sick.” Please think about what really happens in the US when someone has a serious mental illness and no social supports or treatments. Because it happens every single second and none of the anti-psychiatry propaganda accounts for this. Millions of people with untreated mental illness still have it and suffer every day. Less than fifty percent of people with SMI receive treatment, yet those who are untreated/ unsupported do not recover as the anti-psychiatry movement suggests they will.
The anti-psychiatry movement NEVER offers a model or any actual support for people deeply in need of either immediate/ crisis or long-term help. Getting a suicidal person into the hospital against their will is better than letting them die of mental illness, in my opinion.
If you look at the nations that use models like Open Dialogue and other social supports for people with psychosis, you will discover that their national rates of involuntary hospitalization are much higher than the rates in the USA. These nations actually attempt to treat serious mental illness. Once the commitment to treatment/ support happens here, many alternative models will come into being. Ways of supporting individuals who choose not to take medication will be developed and put into place. We need real supports/ real treatment, not further destruction of an already broken system.