In the 1970s, we had a mental patients liberation movement. In the 2010s, we have a mental health services consumer movement. I’m one of those who does not think this development an improvement. One could say that, given this directional change, as far as the war on “mental illness” goes, “mental health” lost. Liberating a person from the mental patient role is one thing, consuming mental health services into perpetuity is another. Liberation from the mental patient role was also liberation from the mental health system. Consumption of mental health services, on the other hand, requires an investment in the mental health system, and with it, an investment in “ill health”.
The next question you have to ask is what is it that is being consumed. Activity in the mental health industry is driven by the pharmaceutical industry. Certainly, there is an outlay for the time of mental health professionals, but psychotherapy is now the province of lesser professionals than those with medical degrees. The thing being consumed, that costs, in most instances, are psychiatric drugs. Following the psychiatric drug taking regimen that comes with this panacea of modern psychiatry are a slew of physical health complications. People who listen to their doctors, and consume psychiatric drugs, die at an age on average 25 years younger than their contemporaries. Consuming mental health treatment, in other words, is hell on the body. Liberation still embodies many more years of lived experience on the planet.
The self-injurious behavior of cutters and burners is one thing, the self-injurious behavior of people who consume mental health services is another. Sometimes this self-injurious behavior is the result of misinformation and, at other times, this self-injurious behavior is the result of folly. When you have the facts, and you continue to ignore them, you have only yourself to blame. Although there has been talk of a “recovery movement”, this “recovery movement” has degenerated into the idea of being an “in recovery” for life movement. The mental health movement, in other words, took it’s cue from the addiction/substance abuse ruse with similar results. Insanity has become incurable in the public mind again. You’ve got people entering the mental health treatment world at one point who never emerge at another.
Part of the problem with this consumer recovery model movement is implicit in the idea of employing an elite to guide, from among the consuming crowd, the afflicted minions. Corruption, by any other name, would smell as rank. “Recovery” here would be achieved by hiring from among the consuming population a paraprofessional elite of helpful staff. The mental health systems in many places are now hiring, due in part to the prejudice in communities, and in particular of potential employers, against former mental patients, what they are calling Peer Support Specialists, and there are also former mental patients that go on, through academic advancement, into careers in the mental health system. The corollary to this additional staff is often forgotten, and that corollary is additional patients.
When mental health patients get into the business of mental health treatment, the mental health treatment industry expands. When the mental health treatment industry expands, the “mental illness” rate increases. This business expands because the “health providers” would convince the potential consumer, that he or she is “sick”, and in need of their services. Convincing people that they are “well” is certainly not good for business, unless that “wellness” is only rhetorical, as in the “wellness” of a reeducation camp. The “wellness” of the reeducation camp is like the recovery of the “in recovery” movement method, always partial, never complete.
There can be no proof that any “mental illness” exists without it ceasing to be a “mental illness”, for evidentiary proof has to be physical. This is the standard dilemma of the psychiatric brain washing facility, the state mental hospital, and of psychiatry in general, given its medical pretensions. Elsewhere people are not imprisoned for their impugned infirmities, compounding misfortune on misfortune. Sure, there is the search for the “sick” gene, and I read where “schizophrenia” was referred to as a trait recently, but strictly speaking, a trait isn’t an illness. Of course, we could always lock people up on the basis of their eye color, hair color, or physical build, too.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if you want to simplify the matter you work in the other direction, that is, in the direction of decreasing the numbers of people in treatment. More mental health treatment means more people characterized as “sick”. The answer, as I’ve always tried to indicate, resides outside of the mental health system, not within it. One way to do this is to get people decent work outside of the mental health system. Not having viable employment, for an extended length of time, in fact, can get you admitted into that system. Outside of that system, there is health, economic health, too; inside of that system, there is mostly, if not only, quicksand, metaphorically speaking, as far as humanity goes.