Mental Health First Aid, A $20 Million Price Tag for Compassion

December 2nd, 2015 | Press Releases

What are the odds Gary Scheppke, a member of the Marin County Board of Mental Health, would happen to be on the Golden Gate Bridge with his newly obtained “mental health first aid” certificate in hand to stop a person from jumping? According to the San Jose Mercury News the odds were pretty good, as explained in its article: A surge in federal funding for Mental Health First Aid could make it as popular as CPR.

Getting beyond the bizarre bridge encounter and Scheppke’s relationship with the Marin County Board of Mental Health, let’s take a look at the comparison the article draws to CPR and Mental Health First Aid and then the $20 million federally funded “certificate.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including heart attack or near drowning, in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone — untrained bystanders and medical personnel alike — begin CPR with chest compressions.”

The Mayo Staff continues, “It’s far better to do something than to do nothing at all if you’re fearful that your knowledge or abilities aren’t 100 percent complete. Remember, the difference between your doing something and doing nothing could be someone’s life.”

The Mental Health First Aid eight-hour course reportedly provides skills to individuals on how to identify symptoms of mental illness, such as depression and how and when to intervene. According to Discovery’s executive director, Kathy Chierton, the course provides interactive and role-playing exercises that help participants empathize with people with mental disorders, “Often, says Chierton, “it can take a decade from when the first symptoms of mental illness show up to when people receive treatment, so early intervention is crucial.”

Let’s remember, though, that there is no objective test for diagnosing any alleged mental disorder – no X-ray, blood work, CAT scan. The diagnosis is completely subjective, based on a set of criteria voted into existence by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). According to the former head of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Thomas Insel, the problem with diagnosing mental illness, “it lacks validity.”

Despite the fact that psychiatric diagnosing is based in neither science or medicine, millions of dollars continue to funnel into mental health services, which largely consists of prescribing dangerous mind-altering drugs – often causing the very behaviors they allegedly “treat.”

For example, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a mentally disturbed young man, Adam Lanza, killed 20 children and six adults was the rallying cry for President Obama to sign an executive order providing $20 million in federal funds for the Mental Health First Aid program.

However, according to the Connecticut state police investigation and the Connecticut Child Advocate’s “story” on Adam Lanza, from a very young age, Lanza received the best mental health money could buy. In fact according to the Hartford Courant report, the psychiatry department at Danbury Hospital performed mental health screening on Lanza and released him, concluding he was not a harm to himself or others. This is a clear indication that mental health screenings (diagnosing) are completely unreliable and, as NIMH Insel said, “lacks validity.”

It isn’t very often that someone can say they talked a person out of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge but, according to San Jose Mercury News, Gary Scheppke, now that he has received the mental health first aid certificate, can identify mental illness when he sees it and act accordingly? Wow, that’s some miraculous training. Or, is it really just a case of one human being showing compassion to another. This compassion, though, comes with a $20 million price tag.

Teachers Trained to Promote Mental Illness?

July 25th, 2014 | Breaking News

The July 24th article in the Connecticut Mirror, by Arielle Levin Becker, titled Moms of children with mental illness share their pain, tell their stories, push for change, while anecdotal, the article provides little in the way of bolstering the cry for increased spending on mental health services. It does, however, provide three sentences that are at the heart of the mental health debate.

Becker writes “But they also note that there are differences between mental illness and physical conditions.” “There is no x-ray or blood test for most mental illnesses… there is subjectivity in the treatment of mental illness…”

First, it’s important to be clear: there is no x-ray, blood test, urine test, MRI or CAT scan that can detect any abnormality in the brain that is any alleged psychiatric disorder. It is not a case of “most mental illnesses,” there are, in fact, no objective tests to detect any alleged mental illness.

Even Keith Stover, an apparent lobbyist for the Connecticut Association of Health Plans, and was interviewed for the article, is confused about psychiatric diagnosing. According to Stover, “there’s rarely a clear diagnostic test that leads to an exact treatment protocol.”

There’s nothing “rarely” about it. Other than a doctor’s opinion of one’s behavior there are no diagnostic tests that lead to either an exact diagnosis or an exact treatment protocol. Psychiatric diagnosing is completely subjective and the pharmaceutical companies have no idea how the drugs work in the brain to treat any alleged psychiatric disorder.

The fact that insurance companies are required to cover treatment for psychiatric disorders is interesting in, and of, itself. Imagine for a moment that a doctor files a claim on behalf of a patient for heart surgery but provides absolutely no objective tests that an abnormality actually exists. The first question from the insurer would be “where’s the tests to show this procedure is necessary?”

And, adding insult to injury, given that there is no scientific or medical proof that any abnormality in the brain exists for any alleged mental illness, there continues to be an onslaught of demands for increased mental health screening, earlier and younger.

Along with the demands for increased screening comes even greater demands to an already over burdened educational system with training teachers and other school personnel on mental illness and the “stigma” associated with it. Ablechild believes that children should be sent to school to be educated not medicated.

More than that, though, what exactly will these educators, who are not doctors, be taught about mental illness? Will educators be provided with accurate information about the subjectivity of psychiatric diagnosing, which actually leads to the stigmatization when the child is labeled with an alleged mental disorder? Is this “training” intended only to promote the “treatment” of mental illness? More importantly, will educators be taught to identify adverse drug reactions and how to report these drug reactions to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by using the MEDWATCH adverse drug reporting system? And, who bares the cost of all of this mental health educating? The taxpayers?

Since the tragic incident at Sandy Hook, the state has poured millions of dollars into increased mental health services and, sadly, none of that legislation was based on any investigative information that the shooter, Adam Lanza, lacked mental health services.

In fact, based on the information that was made publicly available, Lanza was the poster child of mental health services and, perhaps, it is the services he received that may have contributed to his actions. Lawmakers, though, did not even consider this option.

Ablechild believes that a much greater review of the subjectivity of psychiatric diagnosing needs to be done before more taxpayer funds are allocated for increased mental health services. Because the question that one cannot help ask is if the mental health “treatment” being prescribed to Connecticut’s youth is working, why isn’t anyone getting better?

 

 

Poster boy, Tj – 8 year old, used in op-ed to sell more mental illness in CT

May 29th, 2014 | Blog

More mental illness screening, more mental illness care, more mental illness services, more mental illness diagnosing, and more mental illness treatment.  This is what the op-ed of May 26th titled:  Review of Children’s mental healthcare is vital, demands, yet nowhere in the piece does the writer discuss the psychiatric drug “therapy” utilized in mental health’s “treatment” regimen for T.J., the subject of the piece.

Reportedly eight year-old T.J. was diagnosed with the alleged brain abnormality, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, because he had problems focusing in school and was hyperactive.  T.J. received mental health services in another state.  At what age did T.J. first receive these “services?”  The writer does not say.

What exactly were those “services?”  Was T.J. “treated” with Ritalin or Adderall? Both highly addictive drugs and, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA  nearly identical to cocaine. Or, perhaps, T.J. had been prescribed the “non-stimulant” drug Strattera, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, SSRI.

SSRI’s are the most commonly prescribed form of antidepressant, yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, for the “treatment” of the alleged ADHD.  Ironically, it also is the FDA who plastered “Black Box” warnings – the agency’s most serious warning – on these drugs because they may cause abnormal thoughts and suicidal behavior in children.

Remember it is the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH, that openly admits scientists have no idea what causes the alleged ADHD.  And the pharmaceutical companies openly admit on the product packaging that they don’t know how the drugs work in the brain to “treat” the alleged ADHD.  Frankly this drug “treatment” is one big guessing game, and the kids, at extremely young ages, are being used as guinea pigs.

This is the problem with crying for more mental illness services. There is no science to support even one psychiatric diagnosis. There is no known objective, confirmable abnormality that is a psychiatric diagnosis.  It is completely subjective.  The American Psychiatric Association, APA, merely has gathered lists of behaviors and randomly decided they equate to some mental illness that needs to be “treated.”

Columbine, Aurora. Co., and Sandy Hook, to name a few, all were the result of young men with long histories of mental health “treatment.” Now in the wake of yet another mass murder in Santa Barbara, where the shooter openly discusses his years-long psychiatric “treatment,” it seems incredible that the state of Connecticut is rushing to implement increased mental illness services when, in fact, lawmakers should be investigating the very dangerous psychiatric drugs used as “treatments.” To paraphrase the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, “hey, psychiatrists, leave them kids alone!”

At the end of the day, PA-13-178  which the op-ed writer “endorses,” is based on the recommendations made by mental health vendors who clearly have a horse in the race. Lawmakers should acknowledge the obvious conflict of interest and mandate that these vendors will not benefit from their increased mental illness services recommendations.

If these mental illness vendor “stops” are not put in place, where will the power to label the state’s children as “abnormal,” and drug them into submission, end?

 

Adam Lanza’s Psychiatrist’s Ethics Violations Raise Questions About the Legislature’s Controversial Mental Health Increases

May 14th, 2014 | Press Releases

One has to wonder.  If the State legislature had been aware of the details of the investigation into Adam Lanza’s psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Fox, prior to passing sweeping, costly mental health legislation, PA 13-3, would the vote have gone the same direction?

Let’s consider for a moment the facts of Dr. Fox’s surrender of his license to practice medicine in not only Connecticut but, also, New York.  Ablechild recently requested and received the publicly available investigative file on the circumstances surrounding Adam Lanza’s psychiatrist’s fall from psychiatric grace and, perhaps, his decision to flee the country.

The State Department of Public Health received a complaint about Dr. Fox from Yale New Haven Hospital in March of 2012.  A female patient of Dr. Fox had reported detailed information about a “consensual” sexual relationship with Dr. Fox and, by April of 2012, the State Department of Public Health had begun its investigation.

The investigative documents are, in a word, sickening.  The 59-year old Fox had engaged in a sexual relationship with a 19-year old patient he supposedly was “treating” for mental illness.  Dr. Fox had become the patient’s counselor while employed at Western Connecticut State University Counseling Center and when fired from the University for “ethics” violations, continued to “treat” the patient at his Brookfield office.

In substantiating the sexual relationship, the patient provided detailed documentation, including an inordinate number of written references by Dr. Fox about his private parts, and information about other female patients that reportedly had sexual relationships with the psychiatrist – one threatening to bring a malpractice suit against him.  Given the psychiatrist’s apparent proclivity for being sexually active with his female patients, one can only surmise he may qualify as a serial sexual predator.

More importantly, during Dr. Fox’s “treatment” of this 19-year old patient, he not only was prescribing numerous – “three or four” – psychiatric mind-altering drugs, but also was providing the patient with free drug samples (page 69 of report).  According to the patient’s mother, “she was turning into a zombie.”

Dr. Fox billed the mother’s insurance for the patient’s drug “treatment,” but when the psychiatrist and the patient “became friends” Fox no longer billed for “counseling services.”(page 68 of report)

The “consensual sexual relationship” between a 59-year old doctor and 19-year old patient lasted about two years, with the good doctor ending with a note saying “please don’t contact me.”  Absolutely pathetic!

But why is this investigation of Dr. Fox important and what does it have to do with Adam Lanza and the State’s rush to institute increased mental health services?

First, this investigation raises red flags about the public’s right to know when doctors/psychiatrists are fired for “ethics” violations from a State University, tasked with providing mental health services for teenagers.  Furthermore, was Western Connecticut State University aware of Dr. Fox’s sexual relationships with students at the university and, if so, did the university file a report with the Department of Public Health or any state oversight agency?

Additionally, on December 17, 2012 (three days after the Sandy Hook incident) police conducted a telephone interview with Dr. Fox, who is living in New Zealand, inquiring about his “treatment ” of Adam Lanza and the whereabouts of the doctor’s mental health records.  (Investigation document 00260339 -Book 7)

Dr. Fox, advised police that he “vaguely recalls treating Adam Lanza.”  Dr. Fox further advised that the only records he had in New Zealand were billing records and explained that “all of his medical records pertaining to clients he treated in the United States are currently in storage in the United States.”

Twenty-four hours later, Dr. Fox, contacted police, explaining “any medical records pertaining to Adam Lanza have been destroyed since it has been over five years since he last treated him (per state statute he is allowed to destroy any files over 5 years old).”  Dr. Fox further explained that “Adam was about 15 years of age when he last saw him.”

If Dr. Fox last saw Adam Lanza in 2007, his medical record retention, according to the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies Medical Records 19a-14-42, “unless specified otherwise herein, all parts of a medical record shall be retained for a period of seven (7) years from the last date of treatment, or, upon the death of the patient, for three (3) years.”

Dr. Fox, upon surrendering his license, agreed to adhere to the regulations regarding medical records. So, if the doctor last saw Adam Lanza in 2007, he destroyed Lanza’s mental health records two years too early.

More than that, is it not odd that Dr. Fox would initially tell police that his medical records were in storage in the U.S., then twenty-four hours later revise his statement, declaring them destroyed?  Of course, Dr. Fox’s billing records would yield a great deal of information, especially about the drugs prescribed to Lanza, but apparently the police did not follow that lead. Why?

There’s little doubt that Dr. Fox is material to the Sandy Hook investigation. Fox is reported to have been Adam Lanza’s “primary psychiatrist” and, therefore, key to understanding not only Lanza’s mental status but also his drug history. (Investigation document 00085896-Book 8 email to Dr. Fox from Nancy Lanza)

Because the State Police Report provides no mental health information about Lanza since his “treatment” by Dr. Fox in 2007, due to his obvious questionable ethical behavior, is it possible Dr. continued to treat Lanza?  Dr. Fox could answer this question by making public the billing records.  The State Police, however, did not request the records.

The larger picture, though, is the State’s rush to implement increased mental health services (Public Act 13-3) when not only was there no investigative information to support the increase, but the psychiatrist “treating” Lanza had lost his license due to ethical violations and fled the country.

If the State legislature had known about Dr. Fox’s egregious ethical violations, his obvious violation of state medical record retention regulations and his excessive prescribing of psychiatric drugs, would the vote have gone the same way?

This, of course, is the problem with political crisis management. The State legislature acted without the necessary information to make informed decisions. Given the above information, most would logically conclude that rather than implementing costly increased mental health services, what actually was needed was a top-down review of the kind of mental health services being provided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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