Monday, November 15, 2010

Fear of Depressed Folks?

Why are so many people afraid of people with depression and anxiety? Why do folks get so upset when you suggest that they might benefit from counseling? I think I know some of their reasoning. The Mental Health marketing geniuses have scared people with their insistence that every mental, emotional, relational and behavioral problem is a true MENTAL ILLNESS!

I have been leading a team of researchers looking into the ways church and community groups can better provide support and practical assistance to the parents of kids with a disability. While chatting with one hard working, deeply involved, stressed out mom I asked, "Have you ever considered going to a Counselor?"

My question so shocked this exhausted mother that she looked at me in horror and said, "A Counselor? No! I am not mentally ill!"

I quickly said, "Oh, I am so sorry. I am not suggesting that you are mentally ill. By counseling I meant that you might benefit from someone on the outside of your life who has a more objective look at what is going on with you and helping coach you about better ways to help your daughter."

She was instantly relieved and said, "Now that sounds good. I could use some insight and wisdom from an outside expert."

The Mental Health Mental Illness Industry has mandated that all people like me who have been licensed to counsel must use the "Mental Illness Paradigm". I refuse. This mom is NOT mentally ill! She is worn out, stressed and and worried about her child. She needs rest, some practical assistance and the ability to put her worries on the shelf. However, if the Mental Illness lobby has it's way we will all have to fall in line behind their use of the sickness terms and label her as a hopeless victim.

The term Mental Illness leaves us with the notion that the Patient needs long term radical treatment by a Physician that can prescribe drugs. I recently received a newsletter that shows how many kids are being abused by over prescription of medicines. In it, Barry Duncan reports that way too many kids are being drugged in the name of "Treating their Mental Illness". I am astounded by the following statistics.

A study of 11,700 children under age 18 covered by Medicaid found that the number of children newly treated with anti-psychotics increased from 1,482 in 2001 to 3,110 in 2005 (Mathak, West, Martin, Helm, & Henderson, 2010). In other words, a staggering 26% of kids in this sample were taking anti-psychotics.

Another study found that children covered by Medicaid were prescribed anti -psychotics at a rate four times higher than children with private insurance, and were more likely to receive anti-psychotics for unapproved uses (Crystal, Olfson, Huang, & Gerard, 2010), or in other words, for reasons of control, not treatment.

A study of foster care children found that 57% received three or more drugs (Zito et al., 2008), six times the national average in spite of the fact that no research supports more than one drug for kids.

Finally, the use of anti-psychotics with privately insured children, aged 2 through 5, has doubled between 1999 and 2007 (Ofson, Crystal, Huang, & Gerhard, 2010). About 1.5% of all privately insured children between the ages of 2 and 5, or one in 70, received some type of psychiatric drug in 2007 despite the fact that there is little to no evidence in this age group. (I received this via a Personal Communication from Dr. Duncan)

It is sometimes necessary and good to use medications for emotional issues. However, far too often they are over prescribed and over abused. Good, caring, interpersonal counseling is the best cure for most problems. If you know someone who is depressed, anxious and upset, be a good friend and listen to them, pray for them and encourage them.

No comments: