Welcome to the Mad in America podcast, a new weekly discussion that searches for the truth about psychiatric prescription drugs and mental health care worldwide.
This podcast is part of Mad in America’s mission to serve as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care. We believe that the current drug-based paradigm of care has failed our society and that scientific research, as well as the lived experience of those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, calls for profound change.
On the podcast we have interviews with experts and those with lived experience of the psychiatric system. Thank you for joining us as we discuss the many issues around rethinking psychiatric care around the world.
For more information visit madinamerica.com
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Jim van Os and Peter Groot - When Assessing Antidepressant Withdrawal Methods, RCTs Fall Short
This week we talk with Professor Jim van Os and Doctor Peter Groot about their latest study which looks at the effectiveness of tapering strips to help people get off antidepressant drugs.
Jim van Os is Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Public Mental Health at Utrecht University Medical Centre, the Netherlands and Peter Groot works with the User Research Centre of UMC Utrecht.
They both are involved with the development and study of tapering strips which are pre-packaged, gradually reducing dosage tablets that facilitate tapered withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. In this interview, we discuss their latest research paper which examines tapering strips in real-world use.
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Ursula Read - Rights Based Global Mental Health and Social Exclusion
Ursula Read is a research fellow and associate at King's College London. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from University College London, where she studied family experiences of mental illness and help-seeking and Ghana. Currently, her research addresses Global Mental Health, and she utilizes participatory research methods to explore the relationship between mental illness and social exclusion internationally.
Her recent work focuses on mental health care in Ghana, drawing attention to the need for rights-based approaches to mental health care. In doing so, she questions the movement for Global Mental Health: asking what this movement is doing currently and imagining what it could become.
Her research brings to light how those in the Global North and high-income countries can overlook what rights-based approaches to mental health care may actually look like when incorporated into Global Mental Health and enacted on the ground. She also is deeply concerned with the structural and social determinants of health and mental health and their interconnection with community resources, places of worship, faith, and overall health promotion.
Michael Ungar - Looking Beyond Self-Help to Understand Resilience
Michael Ungar is the founder and director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Canada. He is also a family therapist and professor of social work. He has received numerous awards, such as the Canadian Association of Social Workers National Distinguished Service Award (2012), and has authored around 15 books and over 200 peer-reviewed articles.
Dr. Ungar’s work is globally recognized and centers on community trauma and community resilience. In particular, his work explores resilience among marginalized children and families, especially those involved with child welfare and mental health services, refugees, and immigrant youth.
His research is spread across continents and challenges our traditional notions of trauma and resilience. Analyzing people’s risks and available resources, he scrutinizes simplistic ideas of individual perseverance and grit in the face of trauma. Instead, he implicates the role of context, circumstances, and ill-suited services in contributing to people’s psychological suffering.
Patricia Rush - Getting to the Root Causes of Suffering
Patricia Rush, M.D., M.B.A. is an internal medicine physician whose scientific focus is complex chronic illness. Her over 40-year career has focused on working with underserved populations and promoting universal access to high-quality medical care. She spent 20 years in the Cook County (Illinois) Health System, including six years as director of their emergency department. From 2000-2008 ran a trauma-informed solo private medical practice in Chicago.
During this time, she completed in-depth interviews with more than 500 patients, which led her to identify a group of high-risk individuals with serious illnesses who also had a consistent pattern of extreme stress at a young age, including profoundly disordered sleep and emotional distress.
Until her retirement, Dr. Rush was also an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago and now teaches neurodevelopment as a member of the Physician Workgroup of the Child Trauma Academy.
She was a co-founder and serves as a co-director of the Center for the Collaborative Study of Trauma, Health Equity, and Neurobiology, or THEN, in Chicago. The nonprofit works at the intersection of science education and social justice, exploring and communicating the links between early emotional trauma, inequality, human development, and chronic illness to a network of professionals and the public.
In this interview, she discusses a new and more integrated way to understand and treat physical and mental ailments in people of all ages that has important implications for how we raise our children.
Marcela Ot'alora - MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy and Therapeutic Humility
Marcela Ot'alora works with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) as the principal investigator for government research into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. In addition to her role as principal investigator, she also worked as a co-therapist during earlier phases of MDMA psychotherapy research and currently leads the MDMA therapy training for MAPS. Ms. Ot'alora also works as a therapist using both ketamine and fine arts to treat trauma.
Ot'alora approaches her work with a humility learned from years of therapeutic experience: “My clients and the participants in our studies have taught me that their healing looks so different than anything I could have imagined. If I come in leaving that agenda, leaving that bias aside, and being present with whoever is in front of me, they will surprise me every time about how healing works for them.”
In this interview, we discuss her research into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and how the use of MDMA differs from more traditional substances such as antidepressants. We will also discuss ketamine-assisted therapy, the therapeutic use of fine arts, and the over-prescription of psychiatric drugs.
Michelle Funk - WHO and the Sea Change in Mental Health
Michelle Funk is the Unit Head of the Policy, Law, and Human Rights at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at the World Health Organization. She has created and leads the WHO Quality Rights Initiative that aims to assess and improve human rights standards in existing services and advance the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
In this interview, we discuss the launch of the new “Guidance on Community Mental Health Services: Promoting Person-Centred and Rights-Based Approaches.” The document is grounded on the principles of recovery and rights-based approaches. It presents successful examples of best practices in mental health service provision respecting dignity, moving to zero coercion, and eliminating neglect and abuse. Among the best practices showcased in the document are Open Dialogue as practiced in Tornio, Finland, Soteria Berne in Switzerland, Afiya House in Western Massachusetts, Basal Exposure Therapy in Norway, and Hearing Voices Support Groups.
The Guidance builds on the momentum created by the critical voice of Dainius Pūras, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. Puras criticized the dominance of the biomedical model in the Mental Health field and highlighted the harms associated with ignoring the social determinants of health that impact a person’s mental health, such as violence, poverty, lack of proper nutrition, housing instability, lack of universal health coverage, discrimination and others.
In our conversation, Michelle Funk described the process of engaging stakeholders and persons with lived experience throughout the design and development of the document, the challenges of ensuring geographical representation given the global inequalities, and the hopes for the future.
Brilliant, thank you, I understand so much more now thanks to these podcasts
If you are going to take or are taking psychiatric drugs list to this podcast to find out what really happens to your brain and body in the long term.
This podcast is essential listening for anyone taking or thinking about taking SSRIs or any other psychiatric drug. James has done an excellent job of raising awareness of the serious issues involved in the over-prescription and dangers of this class of drug. It is also a much needed source of information and support for anyone struggling with side effects or withdrawal symptoms. James, the work you have put into this is very much appreciated - thank you!