'First, Do no harm': forced treatment arguments

Cross posted from my personal blog:

Forced treatment supporters attack SAMHSA, mental health funding:
SAMHSA Slammed by Congress

Joe Bruce's testimony was largely focused on SAMHSA's Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals program that lobbies to get persons with mental illness who need hospital care out of hospitals.

Joe and his wife Amy were doing their best to get treatment for their son, William Bruce who has schizophrenia and had made threats against them. Against the parent's wishes, SAMHSA-funded lawyers got Willy released from the hospital and two months later he killed Amy with a hatchet. Joe suggested SAMHSA stop funding this activity...

D. J. Jaffee blogging on Huffington Post, 5/24/2013

This is just one of the latest attacks from D. J. Jaffee, a professional PR guy, who shills for E. Fuller Torrey and parrots Torrey's tirades.

My opinion is that their constant barrage of stories and images of mental health patients as dangerous has done far more harm to the patients than the good Torrey claims to seek. The connection between mental illness and dangerousness has been found in recent survey research to have increased in recent years, not decreased. This despite funding for ad campaigns addressing stigma by the federal government and large foundations.

Every time there is a serious and tragic event, such as the attack on Rep. Gabby Giffords in Arizona, or the attack in Chapel Hill, NC, by a gunman with mental illness, D. J. Jaffee and Fuller Torrey send out a barrage of propaganda and phony research to media across the country. You can't deny the effectiveness of their public relations machine.

But you can deny the premise of their propaganda: that forced treatment works, and that laws to promote forced treatment will make our state or nation safer. Here is a response to that premise from Joe Rogers of the Mental Health Association of Southern Pennsylvania. He wrote this in a guest editorial in USA Today:

Legislation mandating force is based on the false premise that people don't want help. Instead, people often cannot secure services despite repeated attempts because our mental health system is "in shambles," according to the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

Studies have shown that what works is not force but access to effective services. We don't need to change the laws to make it easier to lock people up; existing laws provide for that when warranted. Instead, we need to create and fund effective community-based mental health services that would make it attractive for people to come in and receive care, and that would support them in their recovery.

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey supports forced medication and forced treatment., and he will use any method available to win over Congress to his ideas.

Torrey seems to have forgotten his medical oath: "First, do no harm."