Download a pdf flyer of the below here: 12-1-2017-mf-oregon.4
“It’s Been 5 Years Since My Accident!”
Where: Cuckoo’s Nest Stage
LILA Peer Support Club
990 Oak St, Eugene
(NW corner 8th & Oak)
Date: Friday, Dec 1, 2017
Time: Starts at 3 pm
Who? Confirmed: David Rogers, folk singer. Howard Falk, stand-up comedian. Sarah Smith, MindFreedom International. Chrissy Peirsol & David Oaks, revolutionary psychiatric survivor activists. Libbie Rascon, Office of Consumer Activities. Dale Kegley. Debra Nunez. Surprise guests. You! Free, public, peaceful, all ages welcome.
Before, you are invited to the 1:30 meeting at the back of LILA Peer Support Club, for the revival of MindFreedom Oregon. After our indoors celebration, those of us who wish will then go to nearby Kesey Square, Broadway & Willamette, where Food Not Bombs (FNB) serves yummy, free, hot food every Friday afternoon!
This is a First Friday, so you can also then celebrate Eugene’s art.
Sponsored by MindFreedom Oregon More info email@example.com
Thanks to New Day Bakery for their yummy food donations!
This Friday, November 3, 2017 at 3 pm we have a special free event planned, especially if you are in or near Eugene, Oregon. Celebrate the fact that the City Council has officially proclaimed that the center square in our city is Kesey Square, named after a wonderful writer and friend of our movement, Ken Kesey (1935-2001).
Here is the PDF flyer: new_2017-11-3-cuckoo
Below is the text from this PDF:
You are invited to a free celebration of
Kesey Square is now officially Kesey Square!
Where : Cuckoo’s Nest Stage
LILA Peer Support Club
990 Oak St, Eugene
(NW corner 8th & Oak)
Date : Friday, November 3, 2017
Time : Starts at 3 pm
Who ? David Rogers, folk singer. Sarah Smith, MindFreedom
International. David Oaks, revolutionary psychiatric survivor activist.
Libbie Rascon, Office of Consumer Activities. Lynne Mckinney.
Surprise guests. You! Free, public, peaceful, all ages welcome.
Celebrate a legacy of Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest . The City of Eugene has officially named Kesey Square.
After our indoors celebration, those of us who wish will then go to nearby
Kesey Square, Broadway & Willamette, where Food Not Bombs (FNB)
serves yummy, free, hot food every Friday afternoon! Donations of
nonperishable food (no meat or dairy please) encouraged for FNB!
This is a First Friday, so you can also then celebrate Eugene’s art.
Sponsored by MindFreedom Oregon
More info firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: 10/5/2017 Rep. Murphy has quit Congress effective 10/21.
Many advocates for human rights in the US mental health system already know this sad fact:
The main US government agency that addresses mental health is increasingly under the influence of a special interest group, founded by extremist psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey. This group, Treatment Advocate Center, promotes court-ordered involuntary outpatient mental health treatment, even if the client lives outside of a psychiatric institution.
However, even after working for decades for human rights in mental health, I have been surprised about how involuntary outpatient ideology is taking over in this government agency, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA plans to spend as much as $54 million of US taxpayer money for 17 programs across the country to spread this coercive approach. Four members of a new advisory committee for SAMHSA promote involuntary mental health.
What should be the response from people who care about human rights and mental health?
Sex and Murphy’s Last Law?
The Congress person behind the push for involuntary mental health has been Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). Earlier this month, Sept. 2017, mainstream media spotlighted a sex scandal involving Rep. Murphy. It turns out that over the last few years, Rep. Murphy betrayed his wife by hooking up with a volunteer for his horrible mental health legislation. His mistress is also a psychologist, about half his age, and those interested may read a Washington Post article about it here. Of course, the sex life of anyone is their own business, but remember that Rep. Murphy pushes involuntary mental health. Has he had a mental health check-up?
Needless to say, Rep. Murphy’s problems have hurt him on both sides of the aisle.
Of course, involuntary approaches have been a part of the mental health industry for centuries. I oppose all involuntary mental health treatment, because true recovery is based on empowerment. Usually this coercion is behind closed doors inside of locked psychiatric institutions. But since the 1980’s, in the US, state after state has quietly passed mental health laws allowing courts to order people living out in their own neighborhoods to follow mental health treatment, typically psychiatric drugs.
Today, almost all US states practice Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC). Proponents of IOC have found it useful to cover-up this coercion. First, they dropped the word “involuntary.” Then they adopted the mis-named euphemism “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT).
The movie “Brazil” has an arrest scene in which the subject is “invited to assist” the authorities, and this dark vision accurately describes this kind of “assistance.”
In reality, IOC does not rely on direct physical force. However, knowing that refusal to take your meds will typically result in your immediate detention is extremely coercive.
IOC or AOT, whatever you call it, involves a judge ordering you to follow instructions from your local community mental health system, even if you are law-abiding and living in your own home, peacefully. The special interest group Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), founded by the psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, lobbies for IOC.
TAC cites studies that claim there are 3.9 million Americans with “untreated serious mental illness.” While some of these Americans have a lack of access to mental health care, many simply do not want the traditional mental health treatment, which is often psychiatric drugs. I am one of those who refuses that kind of approach. Are you one of the 3.9 million Americans in the cross hairs of TAC?
TAC Gaining Power in US Government
This involuntary community treatment seems to be gaining even more authority at SAMHSA, one of the largest mental health agencies on Earth. SAMHSA, led by director Kimberly Johnson, PhD, asked for $4.3 billion in its 2017 budget.
SAMHSA includes the half-billion dollar agency Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), headed by Paolo del Vecchio. Paolo is one of the few agency heads who publicly discloses that he has lived experience as, his agency calls it, a “mental health consumer.” Until this year, 2017, CMHS has funded the popular Alternatives Conference in the USA, the main place for networking for thousands of mental health consumers since 1985. Apparently this amazingly successful gathering is no longer worth their money, as they find millions for outpatient coerced treatment.
CMHS funds many of the mental health consumer groups in the US. While many of these nonprofits provide important peer support activities, the reliance on CMHS has chilled out and silenced resistance to the rise of dis-empowerment.
Examples of how IOC is gaining influence in SAMHSA:
- SAMHSA directs millions in taxpayer money to 17 grant award winners, in a four-year program, that promote IOC, or AOT as they call it. So far, 256 Americans have been included in these programs. According to SAMHSA’s Press Officer Phillip Walls, “The total could go up to about $54 million.”
- SAMHSA now has a new Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee’s (ISMICC), to advise it about folks who are considered to have a significant psychiatric disability for a long duration. ISMICC held its first meeting last month, August 2017. I did a simple Google search, and found that four of the 14 members promote involuntary mental health treatment. In fact, one directs TAC.
- As I have blogged previously, SAMHSA now has a new position that is popularly called the “mental health czar,” given to psychiatrist Elinore McCance-Katz, who supports AOT.
There is some recent good news. Earlier this month, September 2017, proponents of IOC, or as they call it, AOT, tried to get an extra $5 million per year, which would figure out to more than $20 million dollars over four years. Thankfully, Congress voted this extra money down, 219 to 198 on September 13, 2017. I do not know if money or liberty was the main concern. But if you would like to see how US Representatives voted, go here.
The sex scandal involving Rep. Murphy may be a contributing cause to this failure. Let us hope that the tide is turning for involuntary mental health at SAMSHA.
What Should be Our Response?
Few people know about our little social change movement affectionately called the “Mad Movement.” After centuries of mental health oppression this movement began in about 1969. Quietly, under the radar, some of those who have been through the mental health system, along with supportive allies have worked for human rights and social change in the mental health industry. So what should we do now?
As a survivor of involuntary psychiatry myself, and as a community organizer, my approach tends to be activism.
I worked for MindFreedom International, one of the main independent coalitions in the Mad Movement, for more than 25 years as executive director. Nearly five years ago I experienced a major accident and I retired. Recently, I have acted as a volunteer consultant for MindFreedom with Aciu Institute, a new consulting group I am helping to start with my friend Jeff Bousquet.
Several folks who I respect in the field of mental health empowerment, who bravely survived abuse by their psychiatrists, are funded by SAMSHA directly or indirectly. They have privately told me that they cannot speak out publicly about the rise of involuntary approaches, because of their funding source.
If we are serious, truly serious, about challenging the mental health industry, then we need to develop funding that is independent of that industry. MindFreedom has been one of these groups, refusing to take mental health system money, not that it was offered.
During the past five years, being a quad with a few other disabilities has meant that I have had a bit more time to reflect about our social change movement. Our society seems far too silent in the face of climate crisis. When we should be calling for revolution, it feels like humanity has learned to conform. But let us not give up. Whatever our disabilities, however much SAMSHA is captured by involuntary approaches, and no matter how silent our society is about the climate crisis, fight back! For me personally, one of these ways is that I am looking at a new power chair that can stand me up (see photo).
How can our movement rise now, faced with this push for involuntary mental health? You can leave a public comment on this blog. However, it would be helpful for MindFreedom to get your ideas. We are conducting a survey, and you can indicate if you want your answers to be private or public. I intend to blog about the results. We all want your feedback now! A number of you have already taken this free, brief, private, online survey.
Please take a moment now and fill it out:
MindFreedom leaders need to hear from folks about their concerns and strategy ideas. Early results show that by far resisting involuntary psychiatric drugging is the most important issue. People taking the survey appreciate MindFreedom’s activism, support for psychiatric survivors, and independence the most.
Below are some of the early survey replies to to the question, “What have you learned or gained from MindFreedom International?”
- “I found friends who fight for human rights in mental health.”
- “Power to tell my story my way.”
- “I gained my life back!!!!!”
- “Pride and confidence in my own experience and reality.”
For more information about the MindFreedom survey, contact me, co-founder of Aciu Institute, at email@example.com.
My Research About SAMSHA
Mr. del Vecchio responded to my email this Spring asking about CMHS support for what is called AOT, and is actually IOC. Whatever it is called, a judge court-orders individuals to follow community mental health instructions. Mr. del Vecchio confirmed by email that this grant program exists, and he sent the list of successful awardees. Below is a copy of his email, with both links to the grant program and the awardees.
To clarify this information, I exchanged email with Mr. Phil Walls, SAMHSA press officer, after a Freedom of Information Act request. Below, you will also find the email from Mr. Walls, confirming that more than $50 million is budgeted for this four-year program with 17 awardees. The only change is that the program for Seattle was cancelled and instead it was redirected to an agency in New Mexico, which just passed an IOC law in 2016.
Delvecchio, Paolo (SAMHSA/CMHS) <Paolo.Delvecchio@samhsa.hhs.gov>
Apr 17 
to [David W. Oaks]
Here’s a start:
Last year’s grant announcement: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/sm-16-011
Walls, Phillip (SAMHSA/OC) <Phillip.Walls@samhsa.hhs.gov>
Aug 24 
to [David W. Oaks]
. . . As of July 2017, 256 individuals have been served in the 17 grantee programs.
. . .
Walls, Phillip (SAMHSA/OC) <Phillip.Walls@samhsa.hhs.gov>
Sep 6 
to [David W. Oaks]
What you are looking for is here: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2016/SM-16-011. All numbers are per year, for up to four years. The total could go up to about $54 million.
Walls, Phillip (SAMHSA/OC)
Sep 6 
COUNTY DEPT OF CMTY & HUMAN SRVS, Seattle WA is no longer a recipient.
But Dona Ana County, New Mexico is now on the list. They receive 700,000/ yr for 4 years.
New Committee Has Several Involuntary Mental Health Proponents
The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee’s (ISMICC) non-federal membership were selected in August 2017 to serve three-year terms. Their first meeting was held August 31, 2017. Four of those who promote involuntary mental health care include:
- Pete Earley, author, who is a big fan of Treatment Advocacy Center, and felt they had the most impact of any US mental health group in 2015.
- Mary Giliberti, J.D., Chief Executive Officer, NAMI, one of the main groups to promote involuntary mental treatment, including Involuntary Outpatient Commitment.
- Elyn Saks, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Law, Legal Scholar, University of Southern California Gould School of Law, has a seemingly-complicated position about involuntary treatment. She famously said, “My bottom line? I like to say that I am very pro-psychiatry but very anti-force.” However, she promotes a strange “one-free-shot” philosophy where the mental health system could impose treatment the first time, since she notes some are grateful after the fact. However, others are not grateful. In fact, some do not survive.
- John Snook, Esq., Executive Director/Attorney, Treatment Advocacy Center, actually runs TAC and spends his professional career promoting involuntary mental health treatment.
What Is Your Strategy to Respond?
It is OK if circumstances require that you must be private about your resistance to this rise of dis-empowerment at SAMHSA. However, I hope even you do take some kind of action. This is no time for the sidelines.
On this blog comment section, those of you willing to be public may leave your ideas for effective revolution.
And whether or not you are private or public, a member of MindFreedom or not, please take a few moments to fill out this convenient online survey. There is an area for you to indicate whether or not you would like your comments to be public, and if you choose the whole process can be anonymous.
The survey is here:
The above is a more complete blog that was also published in Mad in America here:
Dear Year 2192 & Year 2017:
Can our two years talk? Let’s use our imaginations.
The Iroquois Native Americans wisely advised us all to think ahead seven generations. As Hurricane Harvey attacks the Houston area in this year 2017, seven generations ahead (each generation is now about 25 years) would be the year 2192.
Wow, you in the year 2192, that is the 700th anniversary of the invasion of this continent by us Europeans. I hope someone is there to read this message? Perhaps if we here in the year 2017 are effective and ignite a global revolution, we can ensure there will be people alive in 2192. (more…)
Over the years I have created a number of games that I mostly play in my own head. One of these has actually caught on a bit with some of my homecare workers: When you hear anyone, such as on the radio, say the word “normal” you howl. That is it. You can play!
On the right we made a party for watching the 2017 eclipse. My brother Tony chose the soundtrack.
Personally my current game that I play in my own head is named “4Truths.” All you need to do is provide four of your truths that you feel that if the world knew, it may save their bacon.
Here are my four truths:
- What is the lag time between emitting carbon pollution, and hurting the environment? I have read that this is 40 years. In other words, a recent summer 2017 month was the hottest on record. The pollution that led to this was produced back when I was in college, and I graduated 1977.
- Why is there this major lag time? My understanding from scientific articles and documentaries, is that the ocean absorbs a lot of our pollution. About 93% of greenhouse gasses are gobbled up by the sea, so that the impact of climate chaos is not immediately visible. The ocean stays all blue and consistent. Right? Not forever.
- When is seven generations ahead? We often hear that phrase first put forth by Iroquois Native Americans. According to my search engine, the average generation is now about 25 years. That means that seven generations is about 175 years. From this year, 2017, that would be 2192, the 700th anniversary of the invasion of this continent by us Europeans. (We had tried before, such as with Viking settlements, but they did not last.)
- So what if there are a few lags between pollution and climate crisis? There are more than four “lag times” before the year 2192. Big deal? Yes! Science has gone through a quiet revolution. Ask any reputable scientist, from physics to sociology. They will tell you that if anyone triggers enough positive feedback loops, chaos can result. Think of shooting off a gun despite warnings of a pending avalanche. When the snow starts to tumble, it may be too late.
What are your four truths?
I will be tweeting the short phrase #4Truths. Please post your tweet there, and/or here on my blog comment area. Thanks!
Buddhism has its “Four noble truths.” Let us hear yours!
Many people seem to think that only a parentage of folks ever experience extreme and overwhelming states of mind. Actually, thousands of everyday people go through the trauma of ICU and go through what is commonly called “madness.” I know, because since my fall in 2012 I have been through this a bunch. While I hope I never go through ICU again, even though everyone was nice, here are the ways I am preparing just in case I do.
Maybe you and everyone else should too?
- I have a short video to myself to watch if I ever go through this again.
- I have a great supported decision making team, both here in Eugene and internationally.
- I also have a brief video to my team, in case I am ever considered unable to make a decision.
- Yes, I have an advanced directive already that says that I only agree to voluntary mental health care ever, but the above help do more, especially support the people closest to me, who I so much love.
Everyone is always in an altered state, always. There is no normality. But we each need to be ready in case we enter especially vulnerable territory.
A US Senate committee is supposed to approve a controversial Trump appointee this Tuesday, 1 August 2017. You may not have heard about this in mainstream media, or even the alternative media, though I have been covering this topic for months!
The approval ceremony is scheduled for streaming on the US Senate HELP (Health Education Labor Pensions) Committee website. According to what I have heard, this HELP Committee will genuflect to power, and sign off on the appointment of psychiatrist Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz as the first Assistant Secretary of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a powerful federal agency with a budget close to four billion dollars annually.
This new “Mental Health Czar,” as it is popularly known, will preside over a SAMHSA that is supposed to be far more friendly to the mental health industry. For example, several leaders have said that SAMHSA will not fund the popular Alternatives Conference after August 2017 in Boston. For more than three decades, this annual gathering has brought together countless USA psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers who lead hundreds of empowering peer recovery programs.
For the past few years, SAMHSA has even begun to fund the support of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment, which often translates into court-ordered coercive psychiatric drugging of people living in their own homes, peacefully. All the groups I know led by people who have been through the mental health system strongly oppose IOC.
I just heard from leaders at the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) that this apparently-automatic approval can be watched this Tuesday, 1 August 2017; the link will go live about 15 minutes before the hearing, set for 2:30 EST:
1. If you do not know who your two US Senators are or how to reach them, go here: http://whoismyrepresentative.com/
2. Send a web note to each Senator, it takes just a moment: “I oppose the Trump nomination for the new, powerful mental health position, Assistant Secretary to SAMSHA. The US Senate HELP Committee is supposed to ask psychiatrist Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz questions, here are nine questions:
3. Add your own questions, if any. Copy and post your message, so we all know you speak out for human rights!
4. If your US Senator is on the Senate HELP (Health Education Labor Pensions) Committee, you have extra weight. The list of members is here: https://www.help.senate.gov/about/members
5. For extra, phone up your US Senators. They have both local and D.C. offices. Get to know the staff people who work on health by their first name.
6. Spread the word via email, FB, comments on blogs, Twitter, etc.
21 July 2017
Next week should be interesting, perhaps revolutionary, for those of us who care about human rights, disability and mental health.
I heard from leaders at the National Council for Independent Living (NCIL) that the US Senate HELP Committee will be quizzing Pres. Trump’s appointment psychiatrist Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, to a new powerful mental health position in the federal government.
This new job is commonly known now as “Mental Health Czar” and if you are new to this little-known controversy, I blogged about this a few days ago.
9 Questions that Should Be Asked that Haven’t Been
Technically, Dr. McCance-Katz is being recommended by Pres. Trump to be Assistant Secretary for the huge USA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). Mental health agencies mainly are asking about her positions regarding “recovery” and “peers,” important topics, but here are some tougher questions:
- Do you support or oppose SAMHSA Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), such as court-ordered coerced psychiatric drugging? (Yes, in the last few years, some of your US taxpayer millions have gone to support court-ordered psychiatric procedures, mainly to enforce involuntary drugging. This has been done for decades by laws changing quietly on the state level. Now your USA federal government has thrown its weight behind this atrocity.)
- If you do support this, then about how many more million Americans do you feel should get court-ordered drugging? (Fanatics for IOC, which they call Assisted Treatment to hide what it really does, are a bit shy about the number of Americans they would like to see involuntarily drugged.)
- Do you endorse the current use of federal money for IOC? (Let us hear about how many millions have already been spent by federal agencies to promote IOC. Easy enough to find out. How many more millions are planned for, how many more millions would Dr. McCance-Katz want?)
- Do you admit that court-ordered involuntary electroshock on an outpatient basis can be done? (Find this incredible? Very occasionally, on the state level, IOC has reached the bizarre extreme of court-ordered involuntary outpatient electroshock. Where the subject has to report regularly to a local hospital for another forced outpatient electroshock, or face re-institutionalization. For more proof, use your web search engine for these phrases: ray sandford electroshock, elizabeth ellis electroshock. An attorney confirmed federal support for IOC could conceivably mean more forced outpatient electroshock. Even one more American forced shock is wrong. Outpatient forced shock is horrible. So is inpatient forced shock, which has gone on continuously in the USA and most countries, for decades including now!)
- What is the long-term impact of psychiatric drugs?
- Did you know that neuroleptic psychiatric drugs, commonly called antipsychotics, are often used during IOC?
- Did you know infants and children in the USA and globally are given off-label neuroleptics?
- Did you know these drugs are well known to cause brain damage, such as tardive dyskinesia (easily viewed on Youtube) or an actual lobotomy effect, shrinking the frontal lobes?
- Why aren’t non-drug alternatives offered to Americans, including the millions of vets?
And many other questions!
You may suggest more questions here on the comment section. Sometimes my blog entries are picked up by the big website Mad in America. Incredibly, my last blog about this topic led to a flurry of predictable controversy about Hillary vs. Trump vs. whoever.
Look, this is far deeper than who is in the White House. Whether it is Pres. Pence or the signer of the 21st Century Cures act, one of his last acts as President, Barack Obama (and I generally support him), can we discuss that later?
Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian (which has had a plank for years against government forced psychiatry, of course), a Berniecrat, Green, whatever, okay. For more than 40 years I have worked for human rights and mental health. I have seen Americans and people from other countries of all political stripes speak up. For example, we psychiatric survivors warned about the undo power of the drug industry to SAMHSA, in 2010.
Come on, especially we who are survivors of psychiatric coercion! Let us have a revolution. Certainly no one can stop us for speaking up with the truth!
Mad with the truth!
Speak out against this violation, speak out for freedom!
NCIL is holding their annual conference during this same week that the US Senate should be asking tough questions. NCIL’s theme is Revolution.
The last time I was able to attend this great conference, I heard one of the last speeches from my late, departed friend Justin Dart, Jr., known as the father of the ADA. Justin called for revolution, and both he and his amazing widow have known that psychiatric survivors tend to have the fire in our bellies for freedom, love, and revolution!
Crazy Like A Fox? Trump’s Mental Health Debated While Senate Quietly Rubber-Stamps “Mental Health Czar”
Updated July 18, 2017:
US Senate Moving Now About Trump “Mental Health Czar” Appointee!
I just heard that the US Senate, via Senator Lamar Alexander’s HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions), will be looking at this Trump appointee at the end of July, 2017. Hey that is right now!
There are many ways to influence this committee! They include Sen. Sanders, Warren, Franken, plus many Senators from States with activists (such as Wisc., Maine, Mass., Wash., Penn., Virginia, etc.). If you have a US Senator on this Committee, act now. If your US Senators are not on this Committee, please ask them to speak out today.
Since the bizarre attempt to gut the ACA is scuttled, this is a good time to speak out!
It may be too late to stop this appointment, but we could be asking some very good questions. We need to find out about Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz support for empowerment, recovery, peer support, alternatives, etc. But we should also find out about her understanding of the way psychiatric drugs are forced on people, hazards of long-term use, federal support for involuntary psychiatric drugging including on a outpatient basis, alternatives to psychiatric drugs, brain damage associated with neuroleptic drugs, electroshock, involuntary electroshock, and how involuntary outpatient procedures can and do include occasional court-ordered involuntary electroshock!
Below is the blog I wrote a few weeks ago about blocking this Trump appointee, and I have some questions listed. Let us ask some good questions right now, come on everybody!
Stop the Trump Appointee of a “Mental Health Czar”! At Least Ask Some Good Questions!
The nation and media debate Pres. Trump’s mental health. It is kind of a kick to watch Trump act nuts. Maybe it’s like driving past a car wreck on the highway. You vow to yourself to look away, but I look. Maybe you do too.
However, Pres. Cuckoo is distracting us.
Pres. Trump is “crazy like a fox.” The US Senate is quietly approving his first “Mental Health Czar.” Really!
You may have not heard about this controversy at all in the corporate media.
This “Mental Health Czar” appointment is moving below the radar of many people. In December 2016, the vast majority of Republican and Democrat congresspeople passed a huge and extreme mental health law for the nation, as part of the “21st Century Cures” bill.
Trump is Nominating New Mental Health “Czar”
As part of this new law, Pres. Trump has nominated a psychiatrist, Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, for this first brand-new very-powerful position, widely considered “a mental health czar” of the USA.
While this process is not spoken about much in the media, the US Senate via Sen. Lamar Alexander’s committee, is supposed to ask her questions and decide about her confirmation. The formal title for this brand-new position is “Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (Samhsa).”
If you are new to the US mental health world, you may not know that Samhsa is the huge federal agency that funds much of the mental health system. Just one of the Samhsa agencies is Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), overseeing about a half-a-billion dollars annually, including many of the mental health consumer events such as the popular annual Alternatives Conference, the next one in Boston starts August 18, 2017.
CMHS is headed by Paolo del Vecchio, who has publicly identified himself as someone with “lived experience” of a mental health disability. Thousands of folks in our movement lead by mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors have met Paolo.
Now Paolo and CMHS find themselves in the middle of a strange and quiet battle.
For many decades, mental health consumer organizations in the USA have counted on the federal and state governments for their budgets. Only a few organizations have even tried to fund their budgets with donations, memberships, grassroots sales, and small independent grants.
It is difficult to explain to people how much advocacy organizations for mental health are under the control of the mental health industry. Imagine almost all the environmental groups in the USA, such as GreenPeace, getting their funding from the petrochemical industry. You might spot a problem here?
The Chickens Come Home to Roost
I have spent about 40 years working as a human rights activist in the mental health field. I am proud that when I directed MindFreedom International, for about 25 years, we raised our funds the old-fashioned way mainly through membership donations. Yes, we tried to maintain friendly relationships with industry-funded groups, after all they did some good.
Time for all mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor advocacy groups to raise part or all of their budgets in a more independent way.
The reality today is that many of the mental health consumer groups in the USA are funded by agencies that are headed up by the President, Donald Trump. In other words, the boss’s bosses’ boss of many mental health advocacy groups is Pres. Trump.
Hey President Trump:
“Before your mental health czar pushes for court-orders of any more Americans into forced outpatient psychiatric drugging, will you have a mental health check-up yourself?”
I have blogged previously about why this new position is so very dangerous. For example, after decades of new laws, on the state level, for court-ordered Involuntary Outpatient Commitment with involuntary psychiatric drugging (so-called IOC or as apologists call this violation, “Assisted Care”), this authoritarian practice is now partly-funded federally by US taxpayer dollars.
The US Senate should ask Dr. McCance-Katz about federal support and her backing for this forced outpatient psychiatric drugging.
That is correct, if you are an American taxpayer, some of your millions goes to forcibly drugging your neighbors in their own homes, using court orders. That might even sound like a good idea to some people, until someone suggests you yourself might be one of those to be under such a court order.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) is the only psychologist in Congress and for years he championed the bill that became 21st Century Cures. You may read articles about this topic over on Mad in America:
Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey Gloats
Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey is widely considered one of the main opponents of our social change movement. This eccentric doctor seems to love the idea of forcing millions of Americans to take super powerful psychiatric drugs. According to a New York Times article on the nominations of Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, Torrey told the NY Times recently, “I feel like I died and went to heaven . . . I honestly didn’t think I’d see something like this happen in my lifetime.”
Sure, we can debate the mental health status of Torrey and Trump, neither of whom appear to have gotten a mental health check-up.
Meanwhile, the US Senate should be asking some tough questions of Dr. McCance-Katz. Maybe the US Senate will approve her, but we Americans can at least ask about controversies such as:
- Does she support more forced outpatient psychiatric drugging?
- If so, how many Americans does she feel should get court-ordered drugging?
- Does she endorse the current use of federal money for this?
- Does she admit that court-ordered involuntary electroshock on an outpatient basis can be done?
- What is the long-term impact of psychiatric drugs?
- Why aren’t non-drug alternatives offered to Americans, including the millions of vets?
- And many other questions!
Difficult to Learn About the Senate Debate on Trump’s “Mental Health Czar”
When is the confirmation process in the US Senate? How do you submit questions to be asked? What criteria will be used? How can we ask about involuntary psychiatric drugs, and their impact on Americans?
The Mental Health Civil Rights Advocacy Subcommittee of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) holds a monthly teleconference, headed by Wisconsin disability advocate Mike Bachhuber. I’ve been on this Subcommittee for many years. Their most recent minutes, May 24, 2017, reflected a kind of despair about this process, to paraphrase:
“We discussed the nomination of Dr. McCance-Katz to Asst Secretary for HHS. The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) said that it is done deal. Has support of Mental Health America (MHA). Dan Fisher says that groups will not fight because many get money from SAMHSA and fear retaliation. Instead it’s suggested that we pepper the committee with questions about individual voice of service recipients.”
Let Us Resist! Fight Back Now!
We can at least have a more transparent process about this US Senate debate of the first USA “mental health czar,” appointed by a US President with obvious severe mental issues.
What is the timeline? How can we get in questions?
Dr. Torrey may think he is in heaven, but I would like a revolution, now!
And in case you still had doubts that Pres. Trump has severe mental and emotional problems:
New York Times opinion writer Charles M. Blow recently wondered about Pres. Trump’s apparent “obsession” with former-Pres. Obama:
I think it is pretty clear, from Pres. Trump’s denial of the climate crisis despite mounds of science, that he has severe and dangerous mental problems. In fact, I would argue that to exist, to live, we all have emotional problems. The challenge is to seek positivity and justice. Pres. Trump fails over and over in that pursuit. What an embarrassment, and what a risk especially to future generations.
But as Martin Luther King warned, beware the paralysis of analysis. The US Senate should be showing some bravery right now, and both of your US Senators should act.
Action: Contact Your US Senators, Now!
Each American has two US Senators. Call and email them now!
Simply say that you oppose the nomination by Trump of Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz for Associate Secretary of Samhsa. My blog from the Spring about this has more detail if you would like it:
Everyone should contact their US Senators.
Call both the DC and local offices. Learn the name of the main staff person who works on health.
Keep calling and emailing. Please post a copy of your US Senate note, on this blog, on Facebook, etc.
Ask anyone in the mental health field for a copy of their message to their US Senators. If they do not have a letter copy then you may be looking at a sell-out. Maybe a nice sell-out, but a very confused mental health advocate!
If you can do more, try to get some good questions asked by the US Senate during this process. You can leave comments here. Just now I phoned up the office of US Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and the person who answered the phone was unaware of this controversy. Sen. Alexander heads the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which is supposed to be in charge of questioning Dr. McCance-Katz.
The Vast Majority of USA Opposes These Practices!
Note that both Republicans and Democrats widely supported this bill.
But both the left and the right have spoken out many times over the years against heavy-handed government psychiatric drugging.
For instance, did you know that the USA Libertarian Party actually had a plank, passed quite a number of years ago, against all forced government psychiatric drugging?
Did you know that several grassroots Republican activists have been key for bringing up psychiatric drugging of children? When foster kids get heavy-duty psychiatric drugging, all of us share the guilt.
This issue is far beyond the usual right and left split.
We need a revolution in the mental health system and in our society. Pres. Trump may seem “crazy” but the fact is that his wild, inappropriate, disrespectful antics get the spotlight, when we should be stopping the appointment of Dr. McCance-Katz and this nightmarish 21st Century Cures Act that Torrey’s group, Treatment Advocacy Center, calls “monumental.”
Let us not be distracted by the bizarre behavior of Pres. Trump. Oppose the US Senate confirmation of Dr. McCance-Katz, and at least let us ask some good questions. Keep your eyes on the prize.
NEWS RELEASE — July 14, 2017
MindFreedom International and Aciu Institute ask you to answer 11 survey questions!
In a few moments, you can support human rights in the mental health system and one of the most important groups in that movement, MindFreedom International!
This survey asks for your opinions and ideas about MindFreedom and the future of this movement. You are invited to fill out this online survey whether or not you are a member of MindFreedom.
One of the most controversial parts of this survey asks whether you support:
“Underground railroad: Assisting individuals leaving their local areas to be free of coerced outpatient drugging.”
In other words, more and more Americans are under court order to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will, on an out-patient basis, often in their own homes. MindFreedom and Aciu Institute are asking whether you would support a system such individuals who choose to leave to get away from this coerced psychiatric drugging.
You can read more about opposing forced outpatient drugging on this blog, here.
David Oaks (showed in the upper right trying out a standing wheelchair) is one of the co-founders of Aciu Institute, which is a consultant for MindFreedom International. David used to be an executive director for MFI, before a spinal injury in 2012.
You can fill out the survey here:
The survey begins on the annual day to celebrate psychiatric survivor human rights, traditionally Bastille Day, July 14, 2017.