Hundreds of impassioned protesters, including veterans, marched against the American Psychiatric Association which held more than 65 sessions on psychiatric treatment of military personnel, veterans and their families. Retired Colonel John A. Henke, a clinical psychologist and highly decorated Air Force pilot who worked with the Pentagon stated: “Instead of helping veterans recover from war, their pain has been masked with potent drugs. These, including opioid painkillers and mind-altering psychiatric drugs, are feeding addictions and contributing to the fatal overdose rate among VA patients that is nearly double the national average.” Citizens Commission on Human Rights launched a petition requesting the U.S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee to investigate with public hearings the role of psychiatric drugs in veteran suicides, sudden deaths and recent shootings at Fort Hood and the Washington Navy Yard.
With nearly 79 million Americans currently taking at least one mind-altering psychiatric drug, it boggles the mind that a May 13, 2014 USA Today article titled, “The cost of not caring: Nowhere to go,” would argue that the nation is somehow suffering from a lack of mental health treatment. According to the article, “More than half a million Americans with serious mental illness are falling through the cracks of a system in tatters.” Based on the fact that one in four Americans is taking at least one psychiatric drug, it seems the psycho-pharmaceutical industry will not be satisfied until every American is under the influence of pharmacological “treatment”. The real force behind the article is the push to increase mental health screening, which is part of Representative Tim Murphy’s (R-Pa) controversial legislation (H.R. 3717). The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013, not only creates a new mental health czar, but it also increases spending for mental health training, screening, awareness campaigns and court-ordered treatment—up to a whopping $270 million a year. And this taxpayer mental health financial benevolence is expected without any data to support that even one psychiatric disorder is based in science. Worse still, nowhere in the article is mention made of the known serious adverse reactions to the psychiatric drugs commonly used as treatment.
Thirty-seven percent of recent war veterans are being diagnosed with PTSD and 80 percent are of those are prescribed a psychiatric drug. The Veterans Administration's mental health budget has soared from less than $3 billion in 2007 to nearly $7 billion in 2014. From 2005 to 2011, the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration increased their prescriptions of psychiatric drugs by nearly seven times. That's more than thirty times faster than the civilian rate. Violence and psychiatric drugs is a deadly formula America is becoming too intimately familiar with. Rather than continually send heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, it is time for lawmakers to investigate the connection between prescription psychiatric drugs and violence.
While the national media has been running that the use of psychotropic drugs in children has decreased based on a “sample study” of only 43,000 kids, the fact is, according to data obtained from IMS Health, the number of children 0-5 on psychiatric drugs has increased 42% since 2009. In 2012, there were 1,085,410 children aged 0-5 on psychiatric drugs, which is the highest the number has been in the last decade.
The number of children on Medicaid taking antipsychotic drugs has tripled in just ten years—and shockingly, many of them are under the age of three. Note that these are not just antidepressants, which are bad enough. We are talking about strong antipsychotic drugs. These are so strong that many adults stop taking them because of severe side effects. How can a three-year-old protect himself or herself from the toxic effects of these drugs on their undeveloped brains and bodies?
Maryanne Godboldo and Allison Folmar are extraordinary women. Their names may not elicit immediate recognition by the masses but it is because of their belief in the right of parents—not the state—to decide whether to medicate a child, that their struggle will protect thousands of children who otherwise would have become victims of deeply flawed State Child Protective Services policies.