Friday, January 14, 2011

Tucson and the "need" for mental health

The University of Chicago's Mark Heyrman says that the Tucson shootings happened "because we have not offered treatment." I really have to laugh.

I just attended a university orientation day for new students and parents, right in Heyrman's neighborhood. One of the parent information sessions featured a bright young woman from the student counseling department. I think she was either a social worker or a psychologist.

The speaker graciously gave all of us naive lay people lots of professional tips about how to manage our children's emotional challenges and adaptations, what to do and say to help our kids deal with life in college, establish their identities and develop their autonomy. She detailed the "seven vectors of development" ... all kinds of good, standard psycho-stuff like that.

It seemed basically well-intentioned to me, but maybe just a little slick.

From the presentation, it was obvious that the college counseling department sees itself as a routine service for most, if not all, of the university student body. We were told of the therapy groups which meet regularly and the various support systems offered. Finally, we received a standing offer for all first-year students: ten free individual counseling sessions. (Count em - ten. Free!)

After the presentation, during a short Q & A, I asked what percentage of eligible students ever took any advantage at all of that "ten free sessions" offer. The answer came without pause, about 5%.

It occurred to me that one-in-twenty participation was inconsistent with the department's apparent pride in a universally needed, popular service, delivered at no cost to all comers. Then on the way out of this session, I picked up a business card which read:

Get to know Counseling Services. Counseling Services gives you tools to manage life during challenging times. * You are entitled to ten counseling sessions per academic year. * All services are completely FREE and confidential. * Individual, couples and group therapy are available. LET'S GET TOGETHER!

On the back was the following:

92% of students would recommend the college's Counseling Services to a friend.

I held onto that business card. The next info session was run by a dean, and toward the end of his time, during a rather slow Q & A, for some reason he turned directly to me and asked whether I must have at least one good question. I said well, I'd do my best....

How could it be that, while only 5% of students who were offered ten free counseling sessions accepted even one, 92% of students recommended Counseling Services to a friend? I showed him the card, and told him about the earlier presentation.

He laughed.

He said, well ... they should probably change that card ... they were just trying to promote their service, that's all.

So Mr. Heyrman, what are you talking about? People don't actually want mental health services for themselves. They are coerced to accept them, or they coerce others whose behavior they don't like.

Even simple counseling, for free, from an attractive twenty-something, is avoided by the overwhelming majority of college students. Not to mention the more dehumanizing "treatments" or "hospitalizations" which purport to be medical.

There is no mental health system today which is not ultimately founded and dependent upon the police force of the state. The talk by Heyrman and his ilk, about "services" and the people who "need" them is propaganda and fraud.

And by the way, preventing mass shootings is crime fighting, not medicine.

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