Speak Out to Break the Silence: President Trump Appoints Mental Health Leader Who Campaigned for Involuntary Outpatient Drugging

By David W. Oaks

Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, appointed by President Trump to a important mental health position.

I am a survivor of human rights violations in the mental health system. And even though this was a long time ago, back when I was a college student in the 1970’s, the issues are more relevant than ever. My friend, Patch Adams, MD, has connected the dots for me: Our society needs to be very agile right now, but has to overcome centuries of mental health oppression. But with compassion, we can have a global nonviolent revolution! 

Recent events show that mental health human rights violations are important for everyone. MindFreedom International was my employer for 25 years before my accident in 2012. They are an independent, activist group, and we need that energy as never before. 

The White House announced this past Friday, 21 April 2017, in the evening, that President Donald Trump has, for a pivotal mental health position, appointed a psychiatrist who openly speaks out for involuntary psychiatric drugging of people living outside of institutions, even in their own homes. This appointee criticizes our social change movement, especially our dedication to empowering peer support and our concerns about psychiatric drugs and labeling. It is important for everyone who supports human rights, especially in the social change movements for disability rights and those critical of mass incarceration, to speak up and oppose this approach.

Please phone your U.S. Senators to block this confirmation. This is a chance to raise these issues, now!

This “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (as supporters call it) or “Involuntary Outpatient Commitment” (as it is known by many) has been quietly growing on the State level for decades, but is now being funded on the federal level, such as through the enormous 21st Century Cures Act that was passed by Congress at the end of last year. Whatever it is called — AOT or IOC — under these laws judges may order folks to have mental health care, which could be a range of approaches. In my experience, staffing a human rights phone and getting hundreds of contacts for decades, “mental healthcare” for the “seriously mentally ill” almost always includes psychiatric drugging, often with neuroleptics, or “antipsychotic medications” as prescribers often call this family of pharmaceuticals.

Neuroleptic drugs began in the 1950’s with such brands as Thorazine, Stelazine, Haldol, Mellaril, etc., all of which I have had. I personally experienced involuntary neuroleptic injections more than 40 years ago as a college student at Harvard. About five times I was placed in a psychiatric institution for emotional difficulties, and twice I experienced the sharp end of a needle, when in solitary confinement I was held down on the bare mattress and got forced drugging in my butt. I graduated anyway, in 1977, and our class is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Now neuroleptics have dozens of more brands, but many of the hazards and risks are the same. For instance, in the long run there is the danger that many people can experience involuntary twitching that can apparently often be permanent. There is also the long term risk of brain damage and even death. Some folks choose these medications, but others do not. I choose to not take them, and I have not for these past four decades.

Takes One to Know One

President Trump has appointed Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz for a high-level position created by the 21st Century Cures Act. Dr. McCance-Katz would become the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse (SAMHSA) inside the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

In an essay published last year by the Psychiatric Times, Dr. McCance-Katz was highly critical of SAMHSA, especially its sub-agency Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), headed by Paolo Delvecchio, who has long-identified himself as an individual who has used psychiatric treatment. Many mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors know Paolo because of his work in this field for decades.

In her essay in Psychiatric Times, Dr. McCance-Katz:

  • Endorses federal funding of AOT (or IOC).
  • Criticizes SAMHSA for allegedly being critical of psychiatric drugs.
  • Challenges the support for “recovery” in mental health, a term used by many consumer/survivors as a rallying point for hope and empowerment.
  •  Calls for mental health care, which appears to be led by psychiatric drugs, for more than three million Americans.

Are You One of the Many Targeted? 

Dr. McCance-Katz wrote in the essay: “It is estimated that 10 million Americans (4.2%) are living with serious mental illness. However, only 68.5% of the most severely mentally ill will receive any type of mental health services.”

I wonder how many of these three million Americans would refuse psychiatric drugs? Of those who would refuse, I wonder how many this psychiatrist would like to see drugged against their will?

This professor challenges the great interest in using peer support as a humane, empowering alternative priority. She writes, “Workforce issues focus in large part on the development of a ‘peer workforce.’ This ideology purports that one can become a mental health professional by virtue of having a mental illness. Peer support can be an important resource for some, but it is not the answer to the treatment needs of the seriously mentally ill.”

There are only a few, small groups that focus on involuntary psychiatric drugging, such as the Treatment Advocacy Center. The topic actually divides a lot of folks, since the average American in my experience does not like the idea of the government forcing citizens to have involuntary psychiatric drugs, once the value of empowering alternatives are explained. IOC can even for a small group include involuntary outpatient court-ordered electroshock, or electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). For example, search the web for the names Ray Sandford and Elizabeth Ellis, with the word electroshock. These two Minnesotans who received such horrible involuntary procedures, but MindFreedom put out human rights alerts that stopped the series of electroshocks.

In my decades of work in the field of human rights and mental health, I have been impressed with the way concern about this issue crosses political lines. Yes, support for this field has often been among those who would be seen as on the left. However, some of the most effective organizing about psychiatric over-drugging of children has been done by activists that would be seen as on the right.

I have seen both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party both pass planks in their platform, years ago, expressing support for some of our goals. Today we are often seeing critics question the sanity of the President of the United States because of his support of untrue beliefs, such as his denial of climate crisis and his many years of championing the odd belief that President Obama was born in Africa.

Well, it takes one to know one, and I am also a White Aging Crazy Citizen (WACC). Actually, what I have found in my work is that 100% of all people struggle about their mental wellness, it is a universal challenge. The distinction is between negative, bigoted craziness and positive, constructive, creative craziness. In fact, I would argue that the new PC is Positively Crazy.

Perhaps at this time, we need a Positively Crazy dedication to the First Amendment, which not only includes free speech, but according to the US Supreme Court, the right to think unusual thoughts, even irrationally. There are more compassionate, effective, sustainable ways to help troubled people. Let us all break the silence about human rights violations in mental healthcare, including IOC. Centuries of abuse in this industry have helped silence the population on many outrages, including the threat of climate chaos.

We need a nonviolent revolution throughout our society, in mental healthcare, in energy, in so many ways. There is no guarantee of results, but at least we can speak up about freedom!

My friend Patch Adams, MD has spoken out many time about the need for fun, creativity and  peaceful rebellion. You may read a recent blog I wrote after chatting with him recently, which you may read here

End

Below, for the very interested, you will find an essay I have just submitted to be published in the Harvard Alumni Association publication that comes out every five years. In my essay, I appreciate that a Harvard volunteer group first placed me as an intern working for human rights in mental health. Unfortunately, the nonviolent revolution we have long called for in mental health has not quite happened yet. However, perhaps now this topic may get more attention. 

My Essay to Harvard Alumni Association for My 40th Reunion

Mental health. Activism. Community organizing. Human rights. Disability. Nonviolent revolution! Thank you, Phillips Brooks House Association, for placing me as an intern in my senior year as a community organizer of people in the mental health system, because the above passions became my career. The incredible riches I have gained from working with some of the most powerless in our society are invaluable. After 25 years as Executive Director of the human rights nonprofit MindFreedom International, I had an extreme accident and broke my neck, and I now use a power chair. While it would be impossible to be totally prepared for this, my work in the disability movement managed to teach me a few principles. For example, I apply lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.: What is my creative maladjustment?

Reflecting back on Harvard, the most memorable and influential class for me was about comparative religion. It would be fun to be in touch with any of you reading this. You can find me easily by directing your search engine to this phrase: david w oaks blog. When I summarized my passions above, I included “nonviolent revolution.” Yes, for decades I have raised this as a real choice. Now, with the climate chaos looming, I feel nonviolent revolution is an option we might want to choose. Scientists have estimated that the lag for carbon-induced impact is about 40 years. In other words, the pollution during our years at Harvard is only now changing the climate. I am very concerned that during the next lag, many more feedback effects can be triggered. For the current moment and for seven generations in the future, we truly need a nonviolent revolution. I estimate seven generations would extend to about the year 2192. May there be a healthy graduating class that year! The Butterfly Effect gives us a good chance, uncertain, but a good chance. Perhaps it is up to you?

It is important to create a dialogue to address the values we need today for excellent care. Therefore, I am copying the commentary that I very much disagree with. You may read the essay by the Trump appointee from Psychiatric Times below:

The Federal Government Ignores the Treatment Needs of Americans With Serious Mental Illness

By Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz

There she was again—a middle-aged woman, disheveled, crouching in the doorway of a closed store, grasping a notebook and pencil and scribbling. Intermittently, her eyes darted around and she would mumble, then go back to her notebook. Her eyes never met mine, but I wondered why she was not getting help with what was clearly a severe mental illness. I would see her in that same doorway several times a week for a couple of years before I left Berkeley, California, to become the first Chief Medical Officer of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In doing so, I hoped to help people living in the grips of cruel disorders that affect one’s thinking, one’s reasoning, one’s ability to relate, and one’s ability to even understand that one suffers from a disorder that can be treated.

It is estimated that 10 million Americans (4.2%) are living with serious mental illness. However, only 68.5% of the most severely mentally ill will receive any type of mental health services. Whether those services are necessary and appropriate is not known. People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and other severe mental illnesses often complicated by substance misuse need effective, safe, evidence-based treatments as well as community resources where their clinical service needs can be met. The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is composed of numerous agencies that address the health care needs of Americans, but only one agency within HHS is charged with addressing the needs of those with serious mental illness and that is SAMHSA.

SAMHSA is a small federal agency with a budget of roughly $3.7 billion per year; much of that is in the form of block grants to states that are the arbiters of how the funds will be spent in support of the treatment of substance use and mental disorders. SAMHSA does, however, have the ability to focus on areas and issues that would improve the lot of individuals affected by severe mental illness. Unfortunately, SAMHSA does not address the treatment needs of the most vulnerable in our society. Rather, the unit within SAMHSA charged with addressing these disorders, the Center for Mental Health Services, chooses to focus on its own definition of “recovery,” which generally ignores the treatment of mental disorders, and, as a major initiative under “recovery” services, focuses on the development of a “peer workforce.”

There is a perceptible hostility toward psychiatric medicine: a resistance to addressing the treatment needs of those with serious mental illness and a questioning by some at SAMHSA as to whether mental disorders even exist—for example, is psychosis just a “different way of thinking for some experiencing stress?”

SAMHSA’s approach includes a focus on activities that don’t directly assist those who have serious mental illness. These include programs such as Mental Health First Aid, which seeks to teach people about the warning signs of mental illness in an attempt to provide support to those who are experiencing symptoms. Significant dollars are spent on hot lines for callers who may be experiencing suicidal thinking or who know someone who may be—yet suicide rates continue to climb in the US. SAMHSA supports integrated care programs that would bring some aspects of primary care to mental health services programs—worthy programs, but which do not address the treatment of serious mental illness. Programs that undertake the “re-education” of mental health practitioners who are assumed to be abusers of “consumer” rights and who dictate treatment to patients have been funded in the Recovery to Practice initiative.

Workforce issues focus in large part on the development of a “peer workforce.” This ideology purports that one can become a mental health professional by virtue of having a mental illness. Peer support can be an important resource for some, but it is not the answer to the treatment needs of the seriously mentally ill.

Lost in all of this are the real and pressing treatment needs of some of the most vulnerable in our society—those living with serious mental illness. Nowhere in SAMHSA’s stra­tegic initiatives is psychiatric treatment of mental illness a priority. The occasional vague reference to treatment is no substitute for the urgent need for programs that address these issues.

What’s needed?

What is needed is an agency soul-searching and a re-prioritization that places the treatment of serious mental disorders at the very top of the list of agency goals. SAMHSA needs leadership that acknowledges the importance of addressing serious mental illness. Initiatives that provide funding for new approaches to engaging the seriously mentally ill; for assisted outpatient treatment with enriched psychosocial services; and for additional psychiatric hospital beds, particularly for longer-term care given the severe shortage of such resources in the US, should be at the top of SAMHSA’s agenda.

Clinical education programs that address current, evidence-based treatment for serious mental illness, and new funding for the training of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, advanced practice psychiatric nurses, and psychologists, should be a major focus. SAMHSA should develop closer ties with the National Institute of Mental Health, which is helping us to better understand the neurobiological underpinnings of mental illness every day. The real hope, change and ability to recover from these disorders, lies in their effective treatment. To ignore this is to leave a large segment of some of the most seriously ill in our society abandoned—indeed, discriminated against by the very agency charged with serving them.

What can be done to change the current course? Stakeholder groups that seek to ensure psychiatric treatment for all who need it should band together and exert pressure on SAMHSA, on political administrations, and on congressional representatives to address the needs of the seriously mentally ill. Skilled behavioral health providers with patient care experience—psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors—should consider committing a period of service to SAMHSA and to other federal agencies to inform policy decisions related to substance use and mental disorders. This is especially important because too many in the government have education in behavioral health fields but have never worked with patients, or if they have, it was many years in the past. Being inside the Beltway also imbues an artificial perspective that may be informed by lobbyists if at all. This does not serve the American people.

Time for change

I left SAMHSA after 2 years. It became increasingly uncomfortable to be associated with an agency that, for the most part, refused to support evidence-based psychiatric treatment of mental disorders. It was also quite clear that the psychiatric perspective I brought—inclusive of assessment, diagnosis of mental disorders, utilization of evidence-based treatments, including psychotropic medication and psychosocial interventions as integral components of recovery—was a poor fit for the agency. SAMHSA needs a complete review and overhaul of its current mission, leadership, and funded programs. Congress should quickly address this through legislative mandate.

For too long the treatment needs of the seriously mentally ill have been ignored by SAMHSA, and this needs to change. In doing so, perhaps people like the woman in the doorway will be able to move out of the shadows to live full and productive lives in our communities.

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Our “Tour” to the Office of Our Congressperson, Rep. Peter DeFazio, Opposing Forced Psych Drugs

 Thanks, this was from our gathering on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, at Kesey Square. We visited the office Rep. Peter DeFazio to object to his sponsorship of a bill that would increase coerced psychiatry on an outpatient basis. Left to right on top: Ian, Dale, Sarah, Howard. And that is me sitting down!

This was from our gathering on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, at Kesey Square. We visited the office Rep. Peter DeFazio to object to his sponsorship of a bill that would increase coerced psychiatry on an outpatient basis. Left to right on top: Ian, Dale, Sarah, Howard, and that is me sitting down! (Photo by Dale Kegley.)

We are hearing a lot about how the Democratic and Republican parties are so separate. But when it comes to psychiatric survivors, both parties have been willing to throw our folks under a bus. The US Congress simply does not represent us.

Our local alternative newspaper, Eugene Weekly, described our event this way:

International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment says it hosts a “little peaceful Speak Out Against Psychiatric Dosing” event in Kesey Square 1:30 pm Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. Organizer David Oaks says, “After speakers and an open mic, we will march together to the office of Rep. Pete DeFazio, to object to his co-sponsorship of a bill that would increase outpatient coercion in mental health.” Free.

About a dozen of us held this “Tour” here in Eugene, Oregon to educate the public and our congressperson about human rights and mental health. Unfortunately, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who has for decades been a progressive champion of the underdog, has been terribly misinformed, and is a co-sponsor of the worst mental health legislation I have ever seen.

Known as the Murphy Law, thankfully H.R. 2646 has been held up by the US Senate, so far. The worst part of this proposal is that it would give millions of federal taxpayer dollars to support forced outpatient commitment. That is, courts could order Americans living peacefully at home to take psychiatric drugs against their will.

Sarah Smith, MindFreedom, holds the mic for me, David Oaks, at our "tour."

Sarah Smith, MindFreedom, holds the mic for me, David Oaks, at our “tour.” (Photo by David Zupan.)

Incredibly, during a public debate in the “Letters to the Editor” of our Eugene Weekly, Rep. DeFazio not only defended his support, but for the first time in my decades of fighting Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC), he tried to deny that this was mainly about forcing drugs. You may read the three-part published debate between me and Rep. DeFazio here.

What is this bill about, forced hugs? Forced hot chocolate? No, this is about forced drugs of people in their own homes. Frankly, forced hugs and forced hot chocolate are wrong, too. However, I guarantee, along with all the incredible mental health advocacy groups in the USA, that IOC is about the drugs. We have fought these bills on the state level for decades. However, now this is on the federal level, and somehow Rep. DeFazio has been tricked by proponents to believe this has little to do with forced drugs.

Our Tour from Kesey Square to the Federal Building

We started with an ice-breaking introduction at Kesey Square, next to a statue of Ken Kesey, my late friend who authored “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Among the participants were my friends Dale Kegley and David Zupan. Sarah Smith from MindFreedom was there. One of the main activist labeled autistic, Howard, was there. Psychiatric survivor Gail Roberts was present. Ian McTeague, a young local community organizer, pulled our wagon.

Or "tour" met with a staff person from Rep. Peter DeFazio's office, who came outside to meet with us. All the security in the Federal Building meant that our group could not get inside.

Our “tour” met with a staff person from Rep. Peter DeFazio’s office, who came outside to meet with us. All the security in the Federal Building meant that our group could not get inside. (Photo by David Zupan.)

Several other great activists were there, thanks! Like the cuckoo, we then flew East, on Broadway for a few blocks, to the huge, newish Federal Building. Since security refused to allow us all in, a staff person from Rep. DeFazio’s office came out to meet with us.

For more information about fighting the Murphy bill, and how you need to keep up pressure going into 2017, see my earlier blog entry here.
During our tour on Friday, we chose to deliver our message with humor and positivity. We gave them three awards, assuming “the real” Rep. DeFazio will appear some day and oppose the Murphy Bill. Here is the wording of the three awards:

Award # 1: For Your Future Accomplishment

Award # 1: For Your Future Accomplishment

Award # 1: For Your Future Accomplishment
Presented to THE REAL Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
We know the real you: A champion for the powerless. Soon you will see through the Murphy Law, and realize that forced pharma is a key part. Ken Kesey said “Dosing is always wrong!” No forced drugs!

November 4, 2016, International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment

 

Award # 2: For Saying “No” to Murphy

Award # 2: For Saying “No” to Murphy

Award # 2: For Saying “No” to Murphy
Presented to THE REAL Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR).
Please say to Murphy Law supporters: “If you support forced psychiatry, then you first!” Challenge them to get a mental health check-up first! Tell them that forced psych drugging is the Bill Cosby School of Mental Health.

November 4, 2016, International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment

Award # 3: The Golden Pill Bottle Award

Award # 3: The Golden Pill Bottle Award

Award # 3: The Golden Pill Bottle Award. (We affixed a bunch of golden-color pill bottles to the plaque for this one!)

Presented to THE REAL Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Because you are a skeptic of big corporate power, you can spot the lies of Big Pharma. More than one half of the budget of NAMI comes from drug companies. The Murphy Law is by Big Pharma and would force their drugs! 

November 4, 2016, International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment

If You Live in the Eugene Area? 

Please contact the office of Rep. Peter DeFazio by email, now! This just takes a moment. Simply click on this link, and oppose H.R.2646: https://defazio.house.gov/contact/email-me

eugene-federal-building-defazio-office

The Big Pharma Connection

We are glad we discussed NAMI, which is one of the largest mental health advocacy groups. The individual from DeFazio’s office talked about NAMI, but did not know that a Senate investigation revealed that NAMI privately received a majority of its funds from pharmaceutical corporations. For more info about NAMI’s secret source of money, click here for a New York Times article from 2009 that sums up this issue.

The fact that the staff person brought up NAMI is so important, that I have copied the text from this New York Times article:

WASHINGTON — A majority of the donations made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one of the nation’s most influential disease advocacy groups, have come from drug makers in recent years, according to Congressional investigators.

The alliance, known as NAMI, has long been criticized for coordinating some of its lobbying efforts with drug makers and for pushing legislation that also benefits industry.

Last spring, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, sent letters to the alliance and about a dozen other influential disease and patient advocacy organizations asking about their ties to drug and device makers. The request was part of his investigation into the drug industry’s influence on the practice of medicine.

The mental health alliance, which is hugely influential in many state capitols, has refused for years to disclose specifics of its fund-raising, saying the details were private.

But according to investigators in Mr. Grassley’s office and documents obtained by The New York Times, drug makers from 2006 to 2008 contributed nearly $23 million to the alliance, about three-quarters of its donations.

Even the group’s executive director, Michael Fitzpatrick, said in an interview that the drug companies’ donations were excessive and that things would change.

“For at least the years of ’07, ’08 and ’09, the percentage of money from pharma has been higher than we have wanted it to be,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

He promised that the industry’s share of the organization’s fund-raising would drop “significantly” next year.

“I understand that NAMI gets painted as being in the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, and somehow that all we care about is pharmaceuticals,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “It’s simply not true.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick said Mr. Grassley’s scrutiny, which he described as understandable given the attention paid to potential conflicts of interest in medicine, had led his organization to begin posting on its Web site the names of companies that donate $5,000 or more. And he predicted that other patient and disease advocacy groups would be prodded by Mr. Grassley’s investigation to do the same.

“Everyone I talk to wants to have more balanced fund-raising,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

In a statement, Mr. Grassley praised the alliance for its disclosures. “It’d be good for the system for other patient groups to do what NAMI has done,” he said.

Mr. Grassley’s scrutiny has been unnerving for patient and disease advocacy groups, which are often filled with sincere people who are either afflicted with serious illnesses themselves or have family members who have been affected. Many join the groups in the hope of making sense of their misfortune by helping to find a cure or raising awareness of a disease’s risks and frequency.

Drug makers are natural allies in these pursuits since cures may come out of corporate laboratories and the industry’s money can help finance public service campaigns and fund-raising dinners. But industry critics have long derided some patient organizations as little more than front groups devoted to lobbying on issues that affect industry profits, and few have come under more scrutiny for industry ties than the mental health alliance.

For years, the alliance has fought states’ legislative efforts to limit doctors’ freedom to prescribe drugs, no matter how expensive, to treat mental illness in patients who rely on government health care programs like Medicaid. Some of these medicines routinely top the list of the most expensive drugs that states buy for their poorest patients.

Mr. Fitzpatrick defended these lobbying efforts, saying they were just one of many the organization routinely undertook.

The close ties between the alliance and drug makers were on stark display last week, when the organization held its annual gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue in Washington. Tickets were $300 each. Before a dinner of roasted red bell pepper soup, beef tenderloin and tilapia, Dr. Stephen H. Feinstein, president of the alliance’s board, thanked Bristol-Myers Squibb, the pharmaceutical company.

“For the past five years, Bristol-Myers has sponsored this dinner at the highest level,” Dr. Feinstein said.

He then introduced Dr. Fred Grossman, chief of neuroscience research at Bristol-Myers, who told the audience that “now, more than ever, our enduring relationship with NAMI must remain strong.”

Documents obtained by The New York Times show that drug makers have over the years given the mental health alliance — along with millions of dollars in donations — direct advice about how to advocate forcefully for issues that affect industry profits. The documents show, for example, that the alliance’s leaders, including Mr. Fitzpatrick, met with AstraZeneca sales executives on Dec. 16, 2003.

Slides from a presentation delivered by the salesmen show that the company urged the alliance to resist state efforts to limit access to mental health drugs.

“Solutions: Play Hard Ball,” one slide was titled. “Hold policy makers accountable for their decisions in media and in election,” it continued.

The alliance’s own slides concluded by saying, “We appreciate AstraZeneca’s strong support of NAMI.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick said that the alliance frequently had such meetings and that the organization would fight for better access to mental health drugs “even if we had no relationship with pharmaceutical companies.”

Tony Jewell, an AstraZeneca spokesman, said that the company was “committed to improving health through partnerships with nonprofit organizations” and that “includes striving to ensure people can access our medicines through formularies managed by state Medicaid agencies.”

 

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Keep Eugene Weirdest! “We’re the Crazy Ones?”

This Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 — Free Walking Tour

Mark Roberts is Old Slug Queen and Disability Activist.

Mark Roberts is Old Slug Queen and Disability Activist.

Keep Eugene Weirdest!

“We’re the crazy ones?”

Your tour guides: Slug Queen Mark Roberts (wearing Donald Trump mask), David Oaks, Michael Hejazi, Ian McTeague, R. Drake Ewbank and David Zupan.

 

 

  • 1:30 pm: Intro & icebreaker start at Kesey Square.
  • 2 pm: Tour walks east on Broadway to office of Rep. Peter DeFazio. Deliver humorous awards objecting to his co-sponsorship of bill that supports more outpatient involuntary psychiatry.
  • 3 pm: Walk back to Kesey Square for open mic.

Modeled after the First Friday Art Walk, this totally independent amplified peaceful tour is for fun, but there is a serious side. Rep. Peter DeFazio has supported H.R. 2646, a huge mental health bill. The worst part is federal support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric care. Rep. DeFazio claims this will not emphasize forced drugging. But the tour guides know otherwise.  In fact, David Oaks is running for Peter’s seat as a write in.

Free. Sponsored by International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.

David W. Oaks drawing by artist Isaac Paris c 2016

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

Organizer David Oaks (pictured on left) is a psychiatric survivor activist www.davidwoaks.com davidwoaks@gmail.com Michael Hejazi is a mental health counselor in Eugene www.michaelhejazi.ca Ian McTeague is a local socialist organizer and IWW member. David Zupan is a community organizer media activist, a leader for the new Homegrown Community Radio, www.kepw.org. Mark Roberts is a long-time disability human rights activist and Old Slug Queen.

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My Response to Rep. Pete DeFazio About His Mental Health Bill

Rep. Pete DeFazio looks a bit grumpy.

Rep. Pete DeFazio, a progressive who has represented us in Eugene, Oregon since 1987. I have supported him, even when he has been grumpy. Now I am a write-in candidate to replace him.

Below is the letter I just emailed to Eugene Weekly, which has published a back and forth between me and Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR) over his mental health bill. 

At the bottom are links to more info, including our published letters this month, October 2016.

Dear Eugene Weekly Editor:

In Eugene Weekly, Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR) and I have been debating a bill he is co-sponsoring, H.R. 2646. This complex proposal, more than 100 pages, is mis-named “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016.” It should be called “The Mental Health Consumer Dis-empowerment Act.”

The worst part: It gives federal money to support Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC). The euphemism for IOC is Assisted Outpatient Commitment (AOC). The heart of IOC, which I’ve fought in many States for decades, is mainly to require Americans living at home in the community to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will.

Incredibly, Rep. DeFazio falsely reassures us that his bill would not emphasize forced drugs. He points out that State IOC law does not “include forced medication.” Of course not. Judges pride themselves in saying, “I’m not a doctor, I don’t prescribe.” Judges provide the coercion. Doctors prescribe.

The drug-based approach has undue influence in mental health. We don’t have space here to explore the pro’s and con’s of psychiatric drugs. It can be common sense to choose a non-drug alternative, but Rep. DeFazio’s bill would make this decision more difficult or impossible for many Americans living at home.

Sincerely,

David Oaks

Below are links for more info:

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Eugene Weekly: Why I’m a Write-In Candidate to Replace Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)

Eugene Weekly: Why I’m a Write-In Candidate to Replace Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)
Rep. Pete DeFazio looks a bit grumpy.

Rep. Pete DeFazio, a progressive who has represented us in Eugene, Oregon since 1987. I have supported him, even when he has been grumpy. Now I am a write-in candidate to replace Pete.

Update 22 October 2016: At the bottom you will now find a rebuttal from Rep. DeFazio. 

The main alternative paper here in Eugene, Oregon ran my letter to the editor about why I am running (or rolling) as write-in candidate to replace Rep. Pete DeFazio.

Eugene Weekly, October 6, 2016:

MENTAL HEALTH LAWS 

Rep. Pete DeFazio sadly co-sponsored the worst piece of mental health legislation I have seen in 42 years of human rights activism. HR 2646 is more than 100 pages long, so mainly lobbyists seem to know the details. The worst part is that this bill extends federal financial support for involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment.

In other words, Americans living peacefully in their own homes could be court-ordered to take psychiatric drugs against their will. I call this approach the “Bill Cosby School of Mental Health.”

I have supported Pete for decades and interacted with Pete personally several times. He’s always been kind of grouchy. That is OK; everyone has a different style. But if Pete legislates for involuntary psychiatry despite many constituents trying to explain why this is horrifying, then we have the right to ask, “Has Pete ever had a mental health check-up himself?” If not, will he?

Those of us with psychiatric labels appear to be one of the last groups that get thrown under the bus, by both Democrats and Republicans. I hope the Senate stops the bill.

Following the revolutionary Micah White’s strategy, I have decided to place my name as a write-in candidate for Congress.

David Oaks, Eugene

Update News:

Your feedback, questions, support are encouraged via the public comment area at the end of this blog. Also, please use Rep. Pete DeFazio’s website to ask about this topic. Even though I hope much of mu blog is humorous, I do want to take the moral road about elections and mental health. Please ask Pete to do the same, because this bill will probably be back in some version or other.

By coincidence, today I was also on the teleconference for the National Counsel on Independent Living Mental Health Civil Rights Subcommittee. Thankfully, we heard a report that the US Senate has not acted to vote for this Murphy bill. The Senate has not taken pieces of the Murphy bill to become amendments in a new mental health bill, either.

Because of the election next month, Congress is highly unlikely to pass any big bill about mental health. Of course we should stay vigilant. But mainly we should be prepared for the new session in 2017.

I said on the teleconference that we need to move from a quiet, group-oriented, Washington D.C. beltway, Facebook-based campaign to a transparent, national, people-power approach. Remember our mantra: Nothing about us without us! We need to learn from past disability campaigns that we need thousands of folks all over the country to not only stop Murphy, but to also win ratification of the historic UN treaty for disability rights.

Here are more places to learn about some of these issues:

Resource links:

From my earlier blog entries

Other links

On October 20, Eugene Weekly published a response from Rep. DeFazio:

MENTAL HEALTH PROGRESS

In the Oct. 6 edition of EW, local activist David Oaks claimed that legislation that I co-sponsored, along with 207 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives, would force “Americans living peacefully in their own homes” to take psychiatric drugs under court order. This is simply not factually accurate. The bill, H.R. 2646, includes language that supports assisted outpatient therapy (AOT) programs for those within the community who are found to be mentally unstable and unwilling to seek voluntarily treatment, posing a serious threat to themselves and others. AOT is usually in the form of case management and personal therapy programs and does not necessarily require medical intervention. As I hope Mr. Oaks is aware, Oregon law already authorized AOT and Oregon’s statute is clear: AOT does not include forced medication. H.R. 2646 passed the House with a bi-partisan vote of 422-2. This common sense legislation was a huge step forward in improving our mental health system, and I’m proud to be a co-sponsor.

Peter DeFazio, 4th Congressional District Candidate, Eugene

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Keep Pressure on US Senate for Human Rights in Mental Health: Should I Run For Congress?

NEWS RELEASE — LABOR DAY WEEKEND, SEPT. 2016 — IMMEDIATE RELEASE

David W. Oaks Warns National Group: “Disability Movement Must Unite Against Rep. Tim Murphy’s Attack on Mental Health Human Rights! We Need Revolution!”

As the USA celebrates labor, leaders in the disability movement are gearing up to defend the most vulnerable of the labeled: people diagnosed with a “mental illness.”

For 42 years, David W. Oaks has worked as a psychiatric survivor human rights activist in mental health. This week he addressed a teleconference of a major US disability group. He reflected on a recent overwhelming vote in the US House of Representatives for HR 2646, known as the Tim Murphy (R-PA) Bill.

Oaks presented at the monthly meeting of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), Mental Health Civil Rights Subcommittee. Mike Bachhuber is Chair. Oaks said:

“Support One Another As We Resist This Psychiatric Assault On Our Human Rights!”

Two days after our nation celebrated freedom, 6 July 2016, the US House quietly passed the worst piece of mental health legislation I have seen in my 42 years of human rights activism. This Bill is mis-named the “Helping Families in Mental Crisis Act of 2016.” We hear over and over that the House is divided and paralyzed. The reality is that during this era when it comes to our people, the House showed by voting 422 to 2 that Democrats and Republicans, left and right, are apparently united in throwing us under the bus.

Let’s stop this frightening bill by contacting both US Senators via their website! We must phone these offices after Labor Day. Prevent these terrible ideas from being introduced as amendments in the Senate, into S 2680.

I just have seven points I would like to make because of this historic moment:

  1. REACH YOUR SENATORS’ OFFICES NOW! Psychiatric survivors have overcome so much, I have met courageous humans who have continued to speak out following psychosurgery, electroshock, solitary confinement, discrimination, segregation, and more. They never give up! As every credible disability and mental health advocacy group recommends, please contact your US Senators today! For more info about this campaign: http://www.advocacymonitor.com/an-update-from-the-ncil-mental-health-civil-rights-subcommittee-3/
  2. THE 422-2 VOTE FOR HR 2646 IS PROOF WE NEED REVOLUTION! In Eugene, Oregon we have been very disappointed Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR) is a co-sponsor. This is why I am considering encouraging people to write my name in as an opponent to Peter in the November election. What do you think? Leave a comment with your opinion. I am following the strategy if Micah White, one of the organizers of Occupy.
  3. MURPHY BILL IS RACIST AND KILLS! Forced outpatient drugging overwhelmingly targets people of color. Instead of addressing the crisis of mass incarceration, this is the newest form of chemical mass incarceration! For more on Murphy’s racism, see: http://138.68.254.83/blacklivesmatter-race-mental-health The family of drugs that is typically used during coercion are the neuroleptics, also known as antipsychotics, such as Haldol and Abilify. During hot weather, these drugs can suppress the brain’s temperature self-regulation; when poor people, who seldom have air conditioning, are forced to have these drugs as the climate warms, there are many deaths. For more info see: http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/psychiatric-drugs/death/heat-wave-forced-neuroleptics-death
  4. WE NEED GROUPS AND COALITIONS NOW! For example, thanks National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, you have been doing some great work: http://www.ncmhr.org/
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA WARNING! In the big picture, what I am learning so far, we need to renew our solidarity and support for each other. For example I relied for years on a Facebook group for this campaign. But the admins suddenly shut down the group. We need organization and coalitions that are transparent, and accountable to each of us! Yvonne has a new Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/990352404357602/ or search FB for: “Legislation and Attacks on Survivor Community.”
  6. NO NORMALITY IN MY NAME! After centuries of the mental health industry jumping up and down, up and down on the free minds of millions, we now wonder why our society seems so conformist and like zombies in the face of climate crisis. We psychiatric survivors know about what is a kind of war against human spirit.
  7. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS MAY HAVE A SPECIAL SUPPORT FOR OUR MOVEMENT VALUES! We do not know either way for sure, but Bernie has an occasional contact with our movement issues over the decades. Let us all contact Bernie Sanders’ office. (202) 224-5141. The website to send your comments is: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/contact/comment The staffperson in the DC office of Bernie who works on disability is Lori Kearns, and her email address is: lori_kearns@sanders.senate.gov

I recently blogged about how we should all reach our US Senators now, and you can read this entry here.

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