Submitter says drugs are not the answer to reducing the mental health stigma

Dear Editor,
Lately I’m hearing a lot about, ‘reducing the mental health stigma’. It’s one of those terms that no one dare criticize for fear that you might be accused of being someone that wants people to have a mental health stigma.

Dear Editor,

Lately I’m hearing a lot about, ‘reducing the mental health stigma’. It’s one of those terms that no one dare criticize for fear that you might be accused of being someone that wants people to have a mental health stigma.

As someone who has lived with mental health patients, I hope I can honestly say I have compassion for individuals with mental health conditions. I am going to come right out and say that this fairly recent ‘reduce the mental health stigma’ campaign has probably been initiated by the pharmaceutical industry to make more people feel comfortable going to their doctor and getting a prescription for some sort of psychotropic drug. It’s a very effective sales ploy.

There really has been a stigma attached to the mentally ill in the past. Now the sales strategy is ‘everybody and their dog’ has some amount of mental illness and even one step further, why not have it be ‘the in thing’ to be diagnosed with mental illness. Apparently for ‘Adult ADHD’ all you have to do is drive too fast or be in the middle of doing one thing and then get distracted and start doing another thing. They’ve definitely raised the bar so almost anyone can qualify which makes it easier to sell their drugs, of course. We would be pretty naive if we didn’t realize that these huge pharmaceutical companies have rooms full of psychologist-type sales strategists brainstorming day and night figuring out the best way to market their products.

Dr Simon Davidson, one of the main advisors for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new Canadian Mental Health commission is the latest to want to remove the ‘stigma’. Quoting the Ottawa Bureau Sept. 1/07 under the heading Mental illness focus of new strategy subtitle- Harper names experts to commission to `lead a national campaign to erase the stigma’.

“Davidson envisions such innovations as making schools the hub for early diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders,” the story reads. “Imagine, he says, a multi-disciplinary team of child and youth workers, nurses, social workers, psychologists, child psychiatrists, family physicians, pediatricians, and others going into schools to deal with problems as soon as they are detected.”

“Early intervention is critical,” Davidson said in an interview.

Stephen Harper, speaking of his newly appointed Commission says, “They will lead a national campaign to erase the stigma attached to mental illness,”. “They will also serve as a national clearing house for information on the best medical practices for dealing with it.”

My interpretation of this is: We’re going to get more life long customers for Big Pharma’s products, that being drugs, drugs and more drugs!

Not only do they admit that they plan to use the schools as their new market but they must be so sure that it will work that they’re getting your Prime Minister to announce it to you.

I realize we are Canadians, in other words, ‘all trusting in our government’ – especially a Conservative one out here in the west. This new Conservative government has pretty much been in lock step with our Republican neighbors to the south. George Bush’s government formed their New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in 2002 which had a strongly opposed program called Teen Screen under it. The screening worked too, they’ve apparently got about 15 million kids on medication. Early diagnosis pays off! Now we’ve got Mr. Coat Tail Rider Harper implementing his $55 million Canadian Mental Health Commission right behind Bush.

Harper’s Commission is obviously getting the same marching orders because it looks like Dr. Simon Davidson is planning to screen school kids just like Bush’s people do in the States. I’m not a rocket scientist but I think you wouldn’t have to do much digging to find out who’s really behind this marketing program.

Maybe we really are all mentally ill. Is being put in a hypnotic trance a form of mental illness or is it just mental manipulation? Consensus is not scientific fact!

Clint Hutton

Hanna, Alta.