Does SAMHSA Deny the Existence of Severe Mental Illness?
(May 22, 2013) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) ignores people with the most severe mental illnesses and instead funds advocacy programs that encourage severely ill people to stop taking physician-prescribed medications, Treatment Advocacy Center Founder Dr. E. Fuller Torrey told a House subcommittee hearing examining SAMHSA’s role in delivering services to the severely mentally ill.
In hard-hitting testimony addressing the failures of the federal agency, Dr. Torrey said, “SAMHSA should be promoting treatment programs which have been proven to decrease violent behavior in individuals with severe mental illnesses” like assisted outpatient treatment. AOT has been shown to be highly effective in reducing hospitalizations, incarcerations and episodes of violence.
Instead, “SAMSHA’s three-year plan includes no mention whatsoever of these effective treatment programs. Ignoring such programs is bad enough, but it gets worse. SAMHSA actually funds many programs which lobby to block the implementation of these effective programs in the states.”
The House subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations took sworn testimony as part of an ongoing examination of mental health programs and resources “with the aim of ensuring that Federal dollars devoted to mental health are reaching those individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) and helping them to obtain the most effective care.”
Among other topics, witnesses and subcommittee members examined SAMHSA’s use of taxpayer dollars to fund protection & advocacy (P&A) lawyers who lobby against treatment law reforms and conferences that promote anti-psychiatry viewpoints. Under questioning, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde testified that the agency charged with reducing the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities counts only one psychiatrist in its workforce of 600 people.
Tomorrow: Parent Joe Bruce’s devastating testimony.
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