Get Behind Open Dialogue Movement for Mental Health

  • by: Susan V
  • target: US Dept of Mental Health - SAMHSA

Dr. Peter Lynch has released a new video in his series exposing misinformation that has dominated the mental healthcare industry far too long.

He, among others, says it's not true that chemical imbalances in the brain cause mental illness, that psychiatry is solidly grounded in science or that its drugs correct any so-called imbalances. Also false, says Lynch, is that psychiatry and drugs are the best we have to deal with mental illness, or that no other treatment options exist.

The real problem, he says, is not brain pathology. “It is emotional distress.”

And Dr. Jaakko Seikkula would agree. In the 1980s Seikkula and a team in Tornio, Finland developed an innovative treatment program that focuses on alleviating the emotional trauma of those in distress. This “Open Dialogue” has consistently reduced the need for hospitalization and medication and also reduced relapse “when compared with treatment as usual.”

With PTSD on the rise, exacerbated by two wars and added economic stress, it is destructive for the US DHHS to continue supporting the old myths about mental illness, while ignoring this new and effective treatment that the Institute for Dialogic Practice is teaching within the US.

Tell the Dept of Health to put full steam behind the Open Dialogue movement.

UPDATE: US Dept of Health, SAMHSA's representative Wilma Townsend responded to signatures sent in October, saying SAMHSA supports "evidence based practices that promote behavioral health recovery, but it also encourages individuals to have the option of selecting the practice that helps them with their recovery, including Open Dialogue...."

UPDATE 2: Ms Townsend clarified that it's up to states to request funds for alternative recovery programs. So really STATES, rather than individuals, are choosing the recovery options that are available to individuals. She explains that SAMHSA leaves it up to individuals and groups to submit proposals and/or convince their states to ASK SAMSHA for funds for Open Dialogue or other treatment options.

This is like asking someone whose house is on fire to submit a proposal to the fire department, requesting it use water, rather than flammable chemicals, to fight the fire.

And it's not good enough. Though it is good that SAMHSA has responded and explained its position, it is time for the US Dept of Health to take the innitiative to actively promote non-drug recovery programs like Open Dialogue and demand that states use at least 50% of federal funds to create and support such treatment models. SAMHSA should also provide adequate funding for these programs so that states don't have to rely on kickbacks from the pharmaceutical industry, as they are certainly doing now, either directly or indirectly.

We must continue to insist that programs like Open Dialogue, Empathic Therapy and Soteria be available to all residents of all counties and cities in the US. Because of the current prison-like state hospitals and tormenting drug-based "standard of care" many don't seek help. But they would likely do so if there were non-threatening and compassionate alternatives available. It makes no sense to further traumatize (with our current system) those who are already suffering effects of trauma and stress.

We, the undersigned, agree with Dr. Lynch that mental healthcare must be reformed. The domination of our healthcare system by the corrupt pharmaceutical industry, facilitated by a corrupt FDA drug review system must end.

Dr. Jaako Seikkula in Finland and a colleague developed a system called Open Dialogue, which has for more than 30 years more effectively, and with little or no drugs, given healing support to those suffering emotional trauma, often preventing their distress from leading to serious mental conditions or relapses.

The US system fails seriously by comparison.

The growing list of abuses and neglect of those who suffer from mental and emotional trauma highlights the urgency of our need for reform.

It is time that the US, a country so masterful in its creation of trauma via wars, economic inequality, discrimination and police brutality start offering a more compassionate and effective treatment for those victimized by these tragic realities.

We request that the US Department of Health and Human Services take seriously the misinformation about mental illness that Dr. Lynch and other experts like Robert B. Whitaker are exposing and their call to reform our  mental healthcare system.

We further request that you put the department’s full support behind the Institute for Dialogic Practice and make sure that, as soon as possible, every city and state in the US provides for its residents teams trained in this practice of Open Dialogue.

Thank you for your time.


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