Thursday, April 26, 2007

This One Is From A Psychiatrist

It's from Newsday. I can't provide the link, because it is to a letters page that changes.

Newsday (New York)
April 25, 2007 Wednesday

More mental health services, and even involuntary mental health screenings, have been proposed to prevent repetition of the Virginia Tech massacre. But the mass murderer did get mental health care in a hospital.

He then rejected further treatment. The drug-only treatment he got may well have aggravated his disturbance.

Good mental health care is based on continuing, caring human contact: knowledgable people helping troubled people with problems, while strengthening and reassuring them. Medication, often with little or no meaningful human contact, has now almost entirely replaced that older care pattern. That's what the killer got. And anti-depressant drugs, like those he was given, can themselves intensify suicidal and homicidal thoughts and behavior.

When considering the effectiveness of mental health services, we should recognize that in the 50 years since drugs began to be psychiatry's main treatment modality, there has been a five-fold increase in the fraction of mentally disabled in the population.

Before hurrying to expand mental health services, we should examine more critically the results of treatment methods.

Dr. Nathaniel S. Lehrman
Editor's note: The writer is former clinical director of Kingsboro Psychiatric Center and former assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein and SUNY Downstate Colleges of Medicine.

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