Psychiatrists group warns to be cautious of information in leaflet on antipsychotic medicines

People are being warned to be cautious of information on mental health being distributed by a Scientology-linked group.

Psychiatrists group warns to be cautious of information in leaflet on antipsychotic medicines

People are being warned to be cautious of information on mental health being distributed by a Scientology-linked group.

It is understood leaflets from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights have been sent to homes in Dublin regarding antipsychotic medicines.

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPI) says the information is "erroneous and potentially harmful".

"To suggest that no mental health problem should receive treatment is entirely incorrect and goes against a large body of scientific and clinical knowledge," said Dr Maeve Doyle, Director of Communication and Public Education and Consultant Psychiatrist.

"This leaflet could cause unnecessary distress to people who are already receiving treatment and may cause them to stop their treatment with serious consequences for themselves and their families.

"It may also prevent people who are in urgent need of treatment from seeking help."

The College has advised that individuals do not stop taking their medication.

Anyone who may be concerned about their medication for any reason should discuss it with their psychiatrist or their GP.

The leaflet claims that "According to top experts, the majority of people having mental problems are actually suffering from nonpsychiatric disease that is causing emotional stress".

Elsewhere, the pamphlet says: "But do not think that these (psychotropic) drugs heal anything. They are intended to cover up or “mask” your problems. Meanwhile, they tend to wear out your body.

"Like a car run on rocket fuel, you may be able to get it to run a thousand miles an hour to the end of the block, but the tires, the engine and the internal parts fly apart in doing so. Side effects can sometimes be more pronounced than a drug’s intended effects.

"There is no question that people do experience problems and upsets in life that may result in mental troubles, sometimes very serious.

"But to say that these are “medical diseases” or caused by a “chemical imbalance” that can only be treated with dangerous drugs is dishonest, harmful and often deadly.

"What psychiatric drugs do instead is mask the real cause of problems, often denying you the opportunity to search for workable, effective solutions.

"There are far too many workable alternatives to psychiatric drugging to list them all here, though psychiatry insists there are no such options and fights to keep it that way."

Dr Doyle said that emotional stress can cause mental health problems and vice-versa.

"A key role of the psychiatrist is to listen to the patient's story and determine whether their current experiences are due to mental illness or not," she said.

"This helps to guide management which is delivered by the psychiatrist as well as allied health professionals - nursing staff, psychologists, occupational therapists."

According to Dr Doyle, psychiatrists will sometimes see individuals who do not have a mental disorder or illness but are suffering with emotional stress.

"Such individuals may receive psychosocial support through the mental health service or be signposted to support in primary care such as supportive counselling as well as their general practitioner."

The CPI says that the causes of the illnesses mentioned in the leaflet are multifactorial.

There are many environmental causes such as substance use, traumatic events and genetic vulnerabilities.

"Treatments, including medication and therapies such as CBT and Occupational therapies, are more individually targeted nowadays - one size does not fit all."

Dr Doyle said that informed consent is always sought from a patient when prescribing antipsychotics and information, including side effects, is provided and explained and/or provided in leaflets to patients.

Patients who are taking antipsychotics are extensively monitored including with physical tests.

Update 23 January, 11.30am: In a statement, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights said: "The comments from the HSE and from the College of Psychiatrists regarding the content of the leaflet "ANTIPSYCHOTICS – the facts about the effects" are highly misleading and inaccurate.

"The leaflet emphatically states on page 2: "If you are taking these drugs, do not stop taking them based on what you read here.

"You could suffer serious withdrawal symptoms. You should seek the advice and help of a competent medical doctor or practitioner before trying to come off any psychiatric drug. This is very important."

"The leaflet does not suggest that people suffering from mental issues should not receive treatment, instead it highlights the fact that some treatments have actually caused more harm than good and that better ways may be available."

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