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May 02, 2018

The current mental-health care system is a mess!

Written by Dr. Caroline Leaf

Everyone seems to be talking about mental health these days, but what exactly is mental health, or mental illness? Does our current system provide adequate care, or even and adequate understanding, of mental well-being?

A recent WHO study on psychiatric disorders found that developing nations experience better recovery from major mental issues such as schizophrenia, notwithstanding restricted general access to medications as compared to developed nations like the USA, UK and Denmark. The developed nations had worse recovery rates, notwithstanding their “first class” psychiatric medications and modern mental health care. Indeed,a recent article noted how over 90% of mental healthcare professionals do not have medical experience or qualifications, which can have dire consequences for patients, particularly when a medical illness is associated with mental or behavioral symptoms (such as PANDAS). As noted by the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) in their recent newsletter, 

 

“When we allow this charade of mental illness to continue unchallenged, it gives the mental health industry the power over our actions in the name of medicine. It is a grand deception of using moral, not medical, standards in judging behaviors and experiences and then controlling them without regard to due process of law or basic human rights and self-determination. In this way, conventional mental health professionals have become the present-day priesthood masquerading as medical specialists”. 

 

I am very concerned about the current approach to dealing with mental ill-health, which can be summed up in a quote by the psychiatrist and mental health advocate Joanna Moncrieff: we should not be “medicalizing misery”. There are far more effective and long-term solutions to overcoming mental health issues than medication and psychiatric labels. In Western Lapland (northern Finland), for example, an ongoing, large-scale research project on schizophrenia has indicated that people diagnosed with a severe mental illness can in fact experience long-term recovery without the use of psychiatric drugs. Similarly, the National Epidemiological survey (NESARC) showed that 43000 Americans (75% of addicts) had overcome their addictions by themselves and how drug addicts give up habits by themselves more easily than alcoholics. Most people can get over addiction through CHOICE - quitting is the rule!

Clearly, we can and do triumph over mental health issues. Unfortunately, due of the clinician illusion, in which sickest subset that physicians see are generalized in regards to the overall population, mental ill-heath issues like addiction, schizophrenia and depression are made to seem hopeless. In the developed world, the “disease” model of mental health, which sees mental illness as physically-based and often permanent, has prevailed over the view that mental illness is based in the mind as a result of the circumstances of life, is temporary and can be overcome. 

The disease model of mental health is derived from the medical model of illness. Allopathic medical doctors are trained to diagnose pathology, or disease. They are trained, in other words, to look for what is wrong. This viewpoint is useful in a great number of contexts (e.g. physical trauma or diabetes), but not so helpful in mental health. Indeed, we are only beginning to understand how the mind and brain function—this is one the greatest and most exciting frontiers in science today. Many psychiatrists, however, diagnose mental illnesses according to the unscientific “psychiatric bible”: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The DSM content is produced by small committee, and is influenced by drug companies, who use the DSM to manipulate scientific data to construct diseases that will be “cured” by their drugs, thereby exponentially increasing their profits while controlling “problematic social behavior”. From the 1970s drug companies have largely marketed their products as anti-psychotic, anti-depressive, or anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)—cures combating a particular disease, notwithstanding the lack of evidence for chemical imbalances or other pathologies related to mental illness. What these drugs predominantly do is mask symptoms and produce altered mental states, similar to tranquilizers that temporarily dumb normal biological functions. These drugs create chemical imbalances. 

Even in the fields of psychology and psychiatry, there has been serious push-back against the disease model. One recent example is the BBC Stress test, one of the largest studies of mental health to date, which saw the biggest predictor of mental health problems as “rumination”: the tendency to dwell on negative events for too long. Rumination is clearly a mental process—it is concerned with thinking. The antidote to a negative mental process therefore should be a positive mental process, not a physical one such as medication. Dr. Peter Kinderman, a professor at Liverpool University, a prominent clinical psychologist and the primary investigator in this study has expressed the urgent need to “abandon the disease-model of mental health care.” Kinderman’s concerns were recently echoed by a group of prominent British psychiatrists, led by Pat Bracken, who published an article in the British Journal of Psychiatry arguing “that psychiatry needs to move beyond the dominance of the current, technological paradigm.”

Following a similar research path, I have also demonstrated, using my research on the power of mind-action in changing the brain, that mental disorders are primarily based in the mind. Since the early 1980s (when the DSM-3, the first diagnostic manual to promote the diseased model of metal health, was in use), I have researched the effectiveness of mind action techniques (which are thought-based) in overcoming the negative effects of disease labels such as TBI, dementias, movement disorders, autism, aphasia, and learning disabilities. In other words, mental ill-health is a thought disorder based in the mind, which changes the brain physiologically. I developed the Switch On Your Brain with the 5-step Learning Process from over three decades of study, clinical practice and research. My Geodesic Learning Theory has been shown not only to be effective in mental health care, but also treating physical damage to the brain that occurs in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), learning disabilities and to improve learning techniques in both schools and the corporate world. 

Over the years, I have worked with many individuals confined and boxed in by supposedly scientific labels: ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, autism, and so on. Disillusioned with the lack of conclusive research behind the ADHD and other so-called psychiatric disorders and the chemical imbalance theory, the predominantly biological focus of our current system of mental health and the overuse of psychotropic drugs, my research and experience indicated that many of these conditions were influenced by, or originated in, a disorder of the mind that was either caused by a trauma or negative thinking patterns. Using the principles of my Switch On Your Brain with the 5-step Learning Process(based on my Geodesic Learning Theory) I helped my patients understand that their brains can change if they chose to develop healthy, focused thinking and learning habits, and that it was never too late to heal, and change the brain with their mind. I am currently continuing my research doing clinical trials, looking at the psychological and neuropsychological effects of my non-pharmacological mind techniques in subjects with mental health and neurological issues. 

Indeed, after 30 years of research and teaching, and with the advent of quantum physics, I have come to appreciate how, through focused, determined mind-action, the brain can be stimulated to change. Wherethe action is determined and focused, this persistent mind-actionis able to stimulate the brain and the rest of the body, leading to increased health and vitality, which is why we help organize community-based programs using my 21-day brain detox to help individuals overcome their mental health issues through the power of choice in loving environments. Not only do we direct our behavioral, emotional, and intellectual changes but we also create structural change in our brains and bodies as a result of our individualistic and complex thinking processes. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental healthas “…a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” We have incredible minds, minds that is able to cope with and prosper despite of life’s circumstances, and it is my hope that we realize the potential for success, and the potential to overcome whatever comes our way and live fruitfully, that is inside all of us. 

One of the main reasons I do the work I do is because I believe in the power of the human mind to overcome. I believe that we all have it in us to overcome the challenges of life, realize our potential and write our own stories, which is why I invite all you to my conference to discover more about how to thrive and not just survive, how to “freak out in the love zone” and how to live out your unique and wonderful story. Join us this December if you want to learn how to discover your purpose in life, how to use your mind to think, learn and succeed, and how to improve your mental and physical health! 

 

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