Alternative Mental Health News, No.5


Safe Harbor was founded in 1998 in the wake of growing public dissatisfaction with the unwanted effects of orthodox psychiatric treatments such as medication and shock therapy. Seeking to satisfy the desire for safer, more effective treatments, the Project is dedicated to educating the public, the medical profession, and government officials on research and treatments that, minimally, do no harm and, optimally, cure the causes of severe mental symptoms. Our primary thrust is education on the medical causes of severe mental symptoms.

Contact info:

Safe Harbor
P.O. Box 37
Sunland, California 91041-0037
(818) 890-1862



Last month, just as the Alternative Mental Health News was about to go to press, we received an e-mail from Washington state declaring, “The landmark mental health ordinance has been passed!”

We hurried to gather up the information and squeezed it into our ezine at the last moment with an exclusive report on the “King County ordinance” nationally and internationally.

The text of the ordinance is now available – also an internet exclusive – at, listed on the home page under “Articles.”

The ordinance is short and plain-spoken, simply requiring King County mental health workers to make patients well. Every year a report must be made by the Dept. of Mental Health stating how many patients were made well – and that is now the expected standard of care in King County, Washington, home of the city of Seattle.

Frankly, we were impressed. This law now has Washington state looking at how to help the mentally disturbed with minimal drugs (since drug side effects are not acceptable per the ordinance). We hope this dawns a new day for King County’s psychiatric population.

The ordinance’s author, Merrily Manthey has informed us she is available for consultations for people interested in creating a similar ordinance in other counties and states. Her contact information is available at the Safe Harbor Project (addresses above).


The February 2000 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported two new studies — one measuring IQ changes in schoolchildren given vitamin-mineral supplements, and the other measuring changes in delinquency among the same group of children.

Schoenthaler et al. studied working-class children in two primarily Hispanic elementary schools in Phoenix, Arizona. One study focused on 80 of the children who had been formally disciplined for violating school rules during the school year. Half of these children received daily vitamin-mineral supplementation (at 50 percent of the US RDA) for four months, while the other half received a placebo.

The study showed that the disruptive children who took the supplements produced a 47 percent lower rate of antisocial behavior than those taking placebo. The authors theorize that nutrient supplementation increases blood concentrations of vitamins, which may improve brain function, thus lowering violence and antisocial behavior.

The drop in disciplinary actions among supplement-takers was due largely to a marked decrease in infractions by children who were habitual offenders before entering the study. Only one subject taking the active supplements committed more than two violations during the study, as compared to nine of the placebo-group subjects.

These findings are comparable to previous studies by Schoenthaler et al. showing 28 percent to 47 percent decreases in disciplinary actions in incarcerated children or adults receiving vitamin-mineral supplementation. These studies, too, revealed that most of the change was explained by the reduced infractions of a minority of “hard core” rule-breakers.

Studying 245 children in the same Phoenix elementary school population, the researchers again gave half vitamin-mineral supplements and the other half placebos. They found a significant difference of 2.5 nonverbal IQ points between children taking active supplements for three months, and those taking placebos. 24 of the children exhibited an average 16-point higher net gain in IQ scores than matched placebo controls.

Schoenthaler et al. remark that “just as students who have difficulty reading are routinely referred to an optometrist for a vision examination, schools should consider making similar referrals for children with poor academic performance to a physician skilled in nutritional assessment, counseling, and correction.”

Commenting on the studies, National Institutes of Health researcher Wendy Smith notes that the researchers “used a sophisticated sampling procedure and analysis in an attempt to control for the effect of possible extraneous variables,” in addition to using well-selected assessment tools and a “blind” design.


The October 9, 2000, issue of Archives of Internal Medicine reported that psychotropic agents account for 23% to 51% of all inappropriate medications prescribed to nursing home residents.

The 1996 public use data files of the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey were analyzed for inappropriate prescription of psychotropic medications for the elderly in office-based settings and outpatient departments.

Elderly patients were prescribed a psychotropic agent in 8.7% of all visits, antidepressant and antianxiety agents being the most frequently prescribed medications. Commonly, elderly patients receiving psychotropic agents were female, white, aged between 65 and 74 years, and received health care in a metropolitan area.

Factors positively associated with potentially inappropriate prescriptions included older age, “seen before” status, and antidepressant drug class, while enrollment in Medicaid, antipsychotic drug class, living in the Northeast region, and receiving health care in a metropolitan area were negatively associated.

The study concluded that potentially inappropriate prescription of psychotropic agents is very common for the elderly patient in the ambulatory setting. The most frequently involved medications were amitriptyline (antidepressants such as Elavil) and long-acting benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety agents such a Valium).


Karen and Ron Werth were growing increasingly concerned about their 7 year-old son Ben. They realized that his inability to read was becoming an issue and, on the recommendation of his school, decided to bring him to the HANDLE Institute in Seattle, Washington, for an evaluation. (HANDLE stands for Holistic Approach to NeuroDevelopment & Learning Efficiency.)

The boy was given a set of exercises, such as bouncing a ball off the wall while kneeling on one knee and then changing positions. At first he was resistant to the exercises, but later was convinced to perform them just to prove that they wouldn’t help him learn to read.

One night in early January, Mrs. Werth was stunned when her son sat down and read straight through three books. “I felt like I was watching time-lapse photography with his progress,” she says. “He went through the first-grade primary books in two weeks and is now reading at the first grade level.”

Ben Werth is one of many dramatic success stories achieved by The HANDLE Institute, established in 1994 by followers of Judith Bluestone, who possesses over 30 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental problems. Bluestone has studied developmental optometry, reflexology and acupressure and has treated over 3,000 individuals and families using HANDLE techniques.

The Institute works with people of all ages who have learning disabilities, memory and organizational disorders, aphasia and other language disorders, Tourette’s Syndrome, and “ADD” — a designation Bluestone rejects, preferring her own designation of Attentional Priority Disorder. “No one has an attention deficit,” she says. “Everyone is always attending to something.” She goes on to explain that “Often the problem [is] a tendency to pay too much attention to a particular task. This hyperfocus is hard work.”

Drugs are shunned by the institute because they are considered to mask symptoms without getting to the core of the problem.

Changes in the physical environment can lessen distraction and help the “ADD” child stay on track. Perhaps the child needs to be placed in a quiet corner of the classroom or given a pair of headphones. His tests may not differ in length from other classmates’, but contain only 5 questions on a page rather than 30.

The institute reports success rates of 90%, with significant improvements in the first six to 10 weeks in most cases. Thousands have also been treated in Israel by individuals trained in her methods.

A cornerstone of the technique is Bluestone’s “gentle enhancement,” which is based on the belief that the nervous system slowly adjusts to change and that people’s nervous systems will begin to shut down and not be receptive to change if put under too much stress.

More information is available at and (206) 860-2665.


Ronald J. Diamond, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin Department of Psychiatry, has compiled a well-documented set of guidelines to determine if a “physical” illness is causing what looks like a “mental” illness.

Devised for the use of “non-medical mental health professionals,” Dr. Diamond’s 1996 paper has since been summarized on the NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) website as a guide for the public, at

As an example, under anxiety, Diamond lists 7 neurological causes, 4 toxic causes, 5 endocrine causes, and 8 drug-related causes.

Anxiety-producing endocrine disorders represent 25% of medical causes of anxiety symptoms [the paper provides details on each]:
a. Hyperthyroidism, most common in 20- to 40-year-old women.
b. Adrenal hyperfunction or Cushing’s syndrome.
c. Hypoglycemia (decreased blood glucose).
d. Hypoparathyroidism (decreased parathyroid hormone)
e. Menopausal and premenstrual syndromes.

Diamond’s warning to health professionals and patients is, “IF DOCTORS DO NOT LOOK FOR PHYSICAL ILLNESS, THEY WILL NOT FIND IT.”


Austin, Texas, November 3, 2000 – The Texas State Board of Education passed a resolution expressing serious concern about the tremendous growth in use of psychotropic drugs among school children. They made their decision after hearing a full day of testimony from medical professionals from across the nation about the increasing problem of overprescription of Ritalin and other psychiatric drugs to children. A similar resolution had been adopted by Colorado’s Board almost exactly one year before.

Testimony indicated that up to 1,000,000 school-age children in Texas, possibly 15% of the state’s school children, are now taking psychiatric drugs. Gretchen Fuessner from the DEA showed the Board members that in some surveys, up to 20% of children admitted to recreational abuse of their prescriptions of stimulant drugs for ADHD. She warned the Board members that high school and middle school children are increasingly abusing the stimulant drugs, which are considered controlled substances by the DEA due to their highly addictive properties.

The Board’s resolution stated in part that their decision was due to a 1998 National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference report on the subject of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This report states, “We do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.” It goes on to say that stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) result in “little improvement in academic or social skills.”

With up to one million school-aged children in Texas now taking psychiatric drugs for this and similar psychiatrically-assigned conditions, the Board expressed its concern, and resolved to “encourage school personnel to use proven academic and/or management solutions to resolve behavior, attention, and learning difficulties.” Due to the abuse of stimulant drugs by school children, the Board further resolved to “recommend that each school district implement a special policy with regard to storing and distribution of psychoactive drugs.”

On November 11, 1999, the Colorado State Board of Education adopted a similar resolution “promoting the use of academic solutions to resolve problems with behavior, attention, and learning.” At issue was whether stimulant treatment of behavioral anomalies had a place in the state’s schools or not. The Colorado Board’s resolution stated:

“…there is much concern regarding the issue of appropriate and thorough diagnosis and medication and their impact on student achievement; and WHEREAS, there are documented incidents of highly negative consequences in which psychiatric prescription drugs have been utilized for what are essentially problems of discipline which may be related to lack of academic success; BE IT RESOLVED that the State Board of Education encourage school personnel to use proven academic and/or classroom management solutions to resolve behavior, attention, and learning difficulties; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the State Board of Education encourage greater communication and education among parents, educators, and medical professionals about the effects of psychotropic drugs on students achievement and our ability to provide a safe and civil learning environment.”


Prolonged exposure to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by large power lines may double the risk of suicide, says a study from the University of North Carolina (Wijngaarden, Savitz, et al.) published in the March 2000 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Dr. David Savitz, chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and four other researchers, reviewed the health records of all electricians and other field technicians employed at any of the five major electric power companies in the United States between 1950 and 1986. Almost 6,000 from a total of 139,000 workers were selected for detailed study. The average length of time worked in the industry was 16 years.

Out of the 6,000 workers studied, there were 536 deaths from suicide. These suicide deaths were twice as high among those whose work regularly exposed them to extremely low-frequency (EMF) electromagnetic radiation.

The highest risk of suicide was found among those with the highest levels of exposure, particularly in the year preceding death. The association was even stronger among those whose death occurred before the age of 50.

The authors suggest that electromagnetic fields may reduce the production of melatonin, a hormone that maintains daily circadian rhythms, including the sleep and wake cycle. Reduced levels of melatonin are associated with depression. Dr. Savitz has worked for years on the potential carcinogenic effects of electromagnetic fields in the home and workplace.

Another article in the February 2000 issue of the same journal confirms that working around certain electrical fields does, in fact, reduce melatonin levels.

The association between power line fields and suicides was first suggested back in the 1970s in England, says Dr. Louis Slesin, publisher and editor of “Microwave News,” a bimonthly report on radiation published in New York City.


September 29, 2000 – Testimony presented to a congressional hearing entitled “Behavioral Drugs in Schools: Questions and Concerns” challenged claims that “ADHD” is a neurobiological condition or “brain disease,” citing lack of an objective test.

Neurologist Dr. Fred Baughman entered evidence that powerful neuroactive substances have been approved and broadly used as a remedy for “ADHD” even though, in the FDA’s own words, “no distinctive pathophysiology for the disorder has been delineated” (FDA, Leber, letter to Baughman, 1994).

American Psychiatric Assn. (APA)representative David Fassler, M.D., countered,”We have literally hundreds of studies clearly demonstrating the effectiveness of this medication on many of the target symptoms of ADHD.” However, the issue being raised was not symptom control but the validity of treating the brain and central nervous system for a condition whose source is not demonstrably physical or neurobiological.

Evidence was also heard from Ms. Patricia Weathers, Parent, Mill Brook, NY; Ms. Patti Johnson, Colorado State Board of Education; Ms. Judy Heumann, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education; and Dr. Peter Breggin, Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, Bethesda, MD.

While the APA sent a letter to the House Education and the Workforce committee the following month protesting that the hearing did not “accurately describe the vast scientific literature and research available on children being successfully treated for ADHD,” the question of actual pathophysiology – i.e., the causes of “ADHD” – remained unanswered.

ABOUT is the world’s largest web site devoted exclusively to alternative mental health treatments. It includes a directory of over 150 physicians, nutritionists, experts, organizations, and facilities around the U.S. that offer or promote safe, alternative treatments for severe mental symptoms.

Many of the physicians listed do in-depth examinations to find the physical causes behind mental problems. Also included are an array of articles on topics ranging from the medical causes of schizophrenia to the effects of toxic metals on mental health.

A bookstore page lists top books that cover many areas of alternative treatments with titles like Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and Other Common Mental Disorders and No More Ritalin. has been created to educate the public, practitioners, and government officials on the medical conditions that create “mental illness” and the many safe resources available for addressing and often curing severe mental symptoms.