|(My thanks to readers who caught my spelling error in last month’s issue in the phrase “as ye sow, so shall ye also reap” – I shall not let it happen again!)
Remarkably, this issue starts our 5th year of bringing you the AMH News. The small newsletter we started is now so full of announcements and news items that we can scarcely contain them all.
Through the hard work and support of so many, Safe Harbor now has events going across the planet the next three months.
Would you like to help? Like all other organizations, Safe Harbor needs funding to operate. We need it to hire staff, pay our bills, and fund the many events we do.
Once a year Safe Harbor actively engages in fundraising so that we can support this important work. That time is now. Our big event is October 7, as you see below. A lot of people, including Dr. Laura Schlessinger, are donating their time and efforts to make this event a success to bring us much-needed funds.
You can help by buying your tickets early. If you can’t come, you can donate tickets or donate to our general funds or to help us underwrite the event. Or you can connect us with a foundation that may want to help underwrite the event or support our work.
If you can help us with the finances, I assure you that we will provide the heart, passion, and hard work so that, together, we can continue to carry out our motto of “changing lives every day.”
GUEST EDITORIAL: FORCED MENTAL HEALTH SCREENINGS – A PSYCHIATRIC INQUISITION
|by Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D.
(The following was sent to us in response to recent headlines claiming that the Bush Administration is in support of mandatory screenings for mental disorders.)
Forced screening of the general population for “mental illness,” and the possibility of forced
“Mental illness” is a vague term which has now expanded beyond all limits. Should “experts” so label any of us, or our children, how do we disprove it? And should they then insist that medication be given against our will – as some public schools are already doing with ADHD-labeled children – how do we protect ourselves against these often-dangerous substances?
Some forty years ago, a psychologist on Long Island urged a group of educators to have “mental health teams” drop unannounced into classrooms to find “sick” teachers needing “treatment,” because they were supposedly so harmful to their students. All present were horrified, and rejected this proposed resurrection of the medieval Inquisition, with “mental health experts” taking the role of the medieval Church.
Psychiatry has been called the only business in America where the customer is always wrong. Allowing it forcibly to screen the American public would benefit only the screeners and the drug companies, and harm the rest of us – as well as destroying our democratic traditions of free speech and thought.
NATUROPATHIC PROGRAM FUNDED AT PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL
|The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (New Hampshire) was recently awarded a $40,000 Ittleson Foundation grant designated to support the agency’s efforts to integrate naturopathic medicine among the array of treatments available for behavioral and mental health concerns. The two-year grant will support efforts to develop a program model, treatment protocols and educational materials that can be replicated by other mental health programs throughout the country.
A year ago, The Center became one of the first community mental health centers in the United States to offer naturopathic medicine as a treatment option. At a time when more people are seeking alternatives to traditional medical care and, in particular, looking to rely less on medication to manage their symptoms, the demand for complementary therapies like those provided by naturopathic medicine is growing. Research has shown that naturopathic therapies including clinical nutrition, vitamin and mineral therapy and botanical medicine, are effective in treating conditions such as attention deficit disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other behavioral health problems.
According to The Center’s Medical Director, Daniel P. Potenza, MD, “The Ittleson Foundation grant affords us an exciting and unique opportunity to establish a first-of-its-kind program model. Dr. Jeffrey Sager, the naturopathic doctor on our staff, will be developing the program model, treatment protocols, educational and program development materials that will be an invaluable tool for other mental health organizations locally and nationally who want to replicate the program.”
Dr. Sager, a licensed doctor of naturopathic medicine, joined the staff of The Center’s Bedford
Since 1932, The Ittleson Foundation has been serving the needs of the underprivileged and providing resources for not-for-profit organizations. Today, The Foundation continues a commitment to bringing a “venture capital” approach to philanthropy and is particularly interested in the areas of mental health, AIDS, and the environment.
STUDY SHOWS DIETARY NIACIN EFFECTIVE IN PREVENTING ALZHEIMER’S
|Eating abundant amounts of niacin-rich foods can protect against mental decline by 80%. That is the finding of a new study reported in the August issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery & Psychiatry authored by Dr. Martha Morris of the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago.
It has been known that a severe deficiency of niacin (B3) causes a condition called pellagra, which is characterized by dementia, and that pellagra can be resolved with synthetic niacin. However previous studies did not determine whether dietary niacin would also be an effective guard against mental deterioration.
Dietary data was collected every three years from 1993 to 2003 from a group of 6158 Chicago
The random sample was then divided into five groups, rated according to their intake of dietary niacin. The top fifth (highest intake of niacin-rich foods) were 80% less likely to develop dementia than the group in the bottom fifth. The middle three groups were 70% less likely to develop dementia than the bottom fifth.
The study provided controls for various important risk factors for dementia, such as age, education, race, and the presence of a gene associated with risk for Alzheimer’s, as well as intake of various other B vitamins, antioxidants, fats, and folate.
Food sources of niacin include liver, poultry, fish, lean meats, whole and enriched grains (except corn), dried peas and beans, nuts, peanuts, Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, avocados, and dates.
HELPING THE HELPLESS IN CALCUTTA, INDIA
|Ishita Sanyal’s life completely changed when she learned that a loved one was believed to have the most dreaded mental illness, schizophrenia. As a psychologist, she felt helpless to improve the quality of life for the affected individual or the parents. Neither medication nor counseling can provide what is most needed in these cases – rehabilitation, learning life skills, social
interaction, and communication.
None of the centers she looked into offered real, practical answers. She decided to do it herself, founding the Turning Point center and designing its entire program. Where other centers offered bookbinding or pickle making as occupational therapy, she launched a computer training program for mental patients, the first of its kind in Calcutta.
Her programs have garnered international praise, usually accompanied by astonishment that she has done all this without funding. She is recognized as a pioneer in making patients more responsible. Her paper on the role of responsibility in mental treatment has been adopted by the WFSAD Conference (World Fellowships for Schizophrenia and Related Disorders).
Turning Point’s first conference took up the subject of caring for the caregiver. Under her
Ishita has arranged a number of awareness programs on mental health, and plans to start a mental health quiz program at Swabhumi.
In addition to all these activities, she is a regular columnist at the Telegraph, working to promote broad public awareness and understanding of mental health issues.
JAPANESE RESEARCH LINKS TOXICITY AND AGGRESSION
|Japanese researchers are concerned about the impact of environmental chemicals on normal hormone functioning in mammals, including humans, according to a July article in The Yomiuri Shimbun.
The article echoed the concern of the Japan Society of Endocrine Disrupters Research that DDT, dioxin, PCB, plastics, BPA, nonylphenol, and about 65 other named substances can suppress normal growth, nervous system and cognitive development, and fertility, with abnormal behavior a likely outcome.
The Society stressed the importance of the problem at its June 25 meeting, following the release of a report that rats fed Bisphenol A – a chemical used in the manufacture of wrapping paper, plastic bottles, and other products – found it more difficult to negotiate a maze and exhibited ADHD-like symptoms.
Female rats born to mothers that had ingested Glufosinate, a weed killer used on golf courses, were extremely aggressive toward other rats. The chemical structure of Glufosinate mimics that of glutaminic acid, which is indispensable to the human brain.
A national campaign to assess the damage caused by such substances has lost momentum of late, said the story.
In Taiwan, an average drop of about five percentage points in IQ on average was reported among children aged 6 to 7 suffering from polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) poisoning.
Underactive thyroid function in mothers during the early stages of pregnancy has been linked to lower IQ scores in their children. Chemically, PCB resembles thyroid hormones and may inhibit their production.
Studies conducted in the mid-1990s reported that small traces of an endocrine disrupter could lead to smaller testes in carp and smaller penises on crocodiles, while male fish exhibited more female traits.
Japanese scientists have dubbed such chemicals “environmental hormones” because of their
Yoichiro Kuroda of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience said: “If something unusual happens to genes, any effects will take several thousand to several tens of thousands of years to become obvious. The abrupt changes in the past must have been caused by chemical substances.”
STREPTOCOCCAL INFECTIONS MAY LEAD TO DYSKINESIA IN CHILDREN
|Streptococcal infections may lead to dyskinesias (abnormalities in performing voluntary muscle
movements) and associated psychiatric disorders in some children, says a July report in Archives of Diseases in Childhood.
In the report, Dr. R.C. Dale and colleagues summarized their experience of post-streptococcal
The most frequent dyskinesias were chorea (rapid, involuntary dance-like movements) in 20 children, vocal tics in 17 children, and motor tics in 16.
An infectious illness compatible with beta-hemolytic streptococci shortly preceded the movement disorder onset in 34 children, the authors report, whereas the remaining 6 patients had 2 or more relapses associated with streptococcal infections.
Additionally, 33 of the children experienced mood swings, obsessions, compulsions, or depression, sometimes accompanied by unwanted behaviors.
The disorder resolved completely after one episode in 11 patients (27.5%), the results indicate, but 15 have persistent static disease, and 14 have relapses associated with further infections. It is hoped that further study will lead to effective treatment methodologies.
SCHIZOPHRENIA DRUG MAKER ADMITS RISKS
|The maker of a leading anti-schizophrenic drug has notified doctors that it minimized potentially fatal risks and made misleading claims about the drug in promotional materials.
Janssen Pharmaceutica Products sent a two-page letter to the health care community in July to
The letter complied with a directive issued last year by the Food and Drug Administration, which told several makers of anti-psychotic drugs to update their product labels.
Janssen reported compliance in November 2003, but the FDA determined that the company’s promotional materials still minimized the risk of strokes, diabetes and other potentially fatal complications. The agency also said Janssen made misleading claims that the medication was safer in treating mental illness than similar drugs.
The Miami Herald reported in July that a handful of boys in Florida developed lactating breasts
Also in July, the drug – which is prescribed to more than 10 million people internationally – was named in a federal lawsuit by a doctor who claims children have been harmed and even killed by the misuse of drugs he blames on aggressive marketing by drug manufacturers.
Risperdal was first marketed about eight years ago.
ANTIDEPRESSANT DANGERS CONTINUE TO MAKE HEADLINES
|Doctors will be required to warn all patients under 30 of the suicide risk posed by the
antidepressant Seroxat (Paxil) following an investigation into the drug by a European medical
agency, AMH News learned in late July.
The European Commission is expected to ratify the findings this fall, which would make the
The European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) had announced in April that Seroxat can lead to an increased risk of “suicide-related behaviour in young adults,” recommending extra caution in prescribing the drug to those aged 18 to 29 and calling close monitoring of patients throughout treatment. The EMEA licenses drugs for use in the EU.
A significant number of patients prescribed Seroxat are under 30, according to the drug’s
The mental health charity Mind called on the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to order family doctors to warn all their depressed patients about the EMEA’s findings immediately.
A Mind spokeswoman said: “The European ruling on Seroxat makes it very clear that the very real problems with this drug potentially go far beyond the groups already acknowledged to be at risk.
“When there are up to 800,000 people currently taking Seroxat in the UK, there is an urgent need for these risks to be made plainly known, and for GPs to be very aware of potential problems when they hand out prescriptions.”
In the U.S., an unprecedented effort has been undertaken to evaluate suicides in a large population of depressed individuals taking antidepressant drugs for months or years. The study analyzed data collected on more than 2,500 patients prescribed fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), amitriptyline, or dothiepin.
Suicides and suicide attempts increased sharply in the month after patients started taking the
SUCCESSFUL NON-DRUG PROGRAM FOR LEARNING-DISABLED KIDS
|The principal of CL Milton Elementary School in Laredo, Texas, has just announced breakthrough results for a pilot study using balancing and coordination exercises for children with learning disabilities or ADHD symptoms.
After only four months of twice daily exercises, eighty-three 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students showed 75% more reading progress than a control group of non-learning disabled students from the same grades.
According to the school principal, learning-disabled children typically progress in reading ability only 25% to 50% as much as non-learning disabled students over a given period.
The program is suitable for those 7 years and older. Improvement reportedly becomes permanent after 9-12 months of use for fifteen minutes twice daily.
The program may not only help struggling children catch up, but may help gifted children to excel. It does not replace skills training or tutoring, but enhances the results of such activities.
According to Dr. Irvine Mason, Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, “It is
“As the parent of a child with dyslexia who was also identified as gifted and talented, I had looked at everything I could find,” says Mrs. Ratliff, principal, C.L. Milton Elementary School. “The balance and sensory exercises that are part of the Learning Breakthrough Program made sense to me. So much so, that I took a leap and integrated it into the school. Simultaneously, my 8-year-old son used the program at home each day. After 5 months of program use, his reading level jumped by 2 years. My goal was to guide other parents who I knew from experience were as frustrated and desperate as I was in trying to help their children succeed.”
A child enrolled in the program watches on videotape, then performs tasks such as throwing beanbags, tossing balls at a bounce-back target, and tapping a hanging ball, while standing on a unique balance board. Two 15-minute sessions per day are recommended for maximum benefit.