Saturday, November 20, 2021

Me and NAMI 2

Jessica Hart, a NAMI PR and lobbyist, continues to send me appeals for help. Following is her latest, and my latest response. (My apologies for formating transfer complexities.) 


Stuart , 

First responders – from law enforcement officers to EMTs, and paramedics to emergency room doctors and nurses – deal with the unimaginable every day, and the COVID-19 pandemic has added to their already difficult job. 


In far too many communities, first responders must also take the place of an inadequate mental health crisis system. Unfortunately, that often causes delays for the individual and their family to get connected to mental health care quickly, and it adds to already strained emergency services.) 

It doesn’t have to be this way. A mental health or suicidal crisis deserves a mental health response.) 

There are an estimated 240 million calls to 911 each year in the U.S., and over 19 million of those calls are mental health related. Just like law enforcement responds to a crime in progress, firefighters respond to a fire, or EMTs respond to a broken leg, we must #ReimagineCrisis.


When people call 988 after it goes live in July 2022, professionals who are best trained to help with a mental health crisis should be the ones to respond. Mental health advocates and first responders all know this change is needed, so everyone gets the right response – and an equitable response – that connects them to the help they need.

During Day 4 of REIMAGINE, A 988 Week of Action, ask your members of Congress to #ReimagineCrisis by investing in a mental health crisis system in their fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget.) 


Thank you for your advocacy. 

Jessica Hart 
Senior Manager, Field Advocacy 
NAMI Government Relations, Policy & Advocacy Team

Pronouns: She/Her


*988 will not be available widely until July 2022. If you or a loved one are experiencing a crisis, please call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “NAMI” to 741741.



When a “mental health crisis” is occurring, it means that a person is acting dangerously or obnoxiously. The person is scaring or offending someone, or endangering him/herself sufficiently, so as to cause calls for third party help with the situation. 

The emergency help needed is to control the threatening/offending individual’s behavior to avoid harm. It is not to provide immediate medical intervention for a stopped heart, or obstructed breathing, or a broken hip, or a gunshot wound, or a drug overdose. 

I believe it is absolutely critical to understand that behavior control is a different errand from medical help. We must attend very closely to that distinction, lest we completely abdicate all social and moral authority to expert doctors.

A pill for every antisocial mood or act, a psychiatric expert for every rule of etiquette, no responsibility of individuals, but only dictates by objective standards handed down? Of course that is an impossible society! 

I have no problem with more emergency mental health response teams, provided only that they are explicitly NOT ruled by any medical/psychiatric model of forced drugging and threatened involuntary hospitalization. 

Ultimately, until psychiatrists are no longer the leading/ruling authorities of mental health teams, help and control will remain utterly confused, and mental health itself will continue to be at least as dehumanizing as the roughest law enforcement. 

NAMI has always suggested a 180-degree opposite view: that psychiatry should ultimately cure all social and moral questions by treating errant chemistry in brains.

Your organization is a substantial part of the problem; your advocacy cannot lead to any creative solution. 

S. Randolph Kretchmar 
Kretchmar & Cecala, P.C.
1170 Michigan Ave. 
Wilmette, IL 60091

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Me and NAMI

Following is an email I recently received from a woman who is apparently up the food chain a ways, in NAMI’s PR and lobbying function. Below her email, I post my response. 


Our country’s lack of an effective and widely available mental health crisis system leads to tragic results for people in crisis. For marginalized communities, limited access to crisis care and all types of mental health treatment cause even more devastation. And in too many places, a person in crisis is more likely to come into contact with law enforcement instead of a mental health professional. 

 Since 2015, nearly 1 in 4 fatal police shootings have been of people with mental illness, with 1 in 3 of those being people of color. People with mental illness are also overrepresented in our criminal justice system, and Black individuals with mental illness in jail are more likely to go into solitary confinement, become injured while incarcerated, and stay in jail longer – where mental illness is often left untreated. 

We need to change the status quo and ensure that every person in crisis gets help, not handcuffs. We can and must do better because a mental health crisis should not lead to trauma and tragedy. 

When 988 launches in July 2022 to provide mental health and suicidal crisis response, our communities need to be ready to provide robust crisis services that can respond to a range of crisis calls and needs. Every person in crisis, and their families, should receive a humane mental health response that treats a person with dignity and connects them to appropriate, timely, and culturally competent care. 

Today is Day 2 of REIMAGINE: A Week of Action to Reimagine Our National Response to People in Crisis, hosted by NAMI. Ask your members of Congress to #ReimagineCrisis by investing in a robust mental health crisis system that will reduce the need for a law enforcement response and end tragic outcomes when individuals and families call for help.

ACT TODAY If you haven’t already registered for this week’s events, sign-up here and attend as many sessions as you can. 

Thank you for your advocacy. 
Jessica Hart 
Senior Manager, Field Advocacy NAMI Government Relations, Policy & Advocacy 
Team Pronouns: She/Her 

988 will not be available widely until July 2022. If you or a loved one are experiencing a crisis, please call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “NAMI” to 741741.

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What you call “our country’s lack of an effective and widely available mental health crisis system” is really, as I see it, our prevailing culture in which all human difficulties of thinking, emotion or behavior are quite arbitrarily considered to be illnesses of the brain. The first postulate of psychiatry is, “Insanity is brain disease.” The highest technical authority which we allow to administer mental health is psychiatry. Psychiatric “diagnosis” and psychiatric “treatment” are the basic purpose. This is the source of all the social ills which you cite. 

As you suggest, we SURELY DO need to change the status quo and reduce trauma and tragedy. But the status quo is not too much law enforcement, or too little “treatment”. It’s too much medicalization, too much psychiatry!

Your own organization has a long history of contributing to this problem. For decades, NAMI forwarded and defended, even insisted upon, the myths of “chemical imbalances in the brain” which required psychiatric drugs “just like insulin for diabetes”. Even now, many years after none other than Allen Frances called psychiatric diagnosis “bullshit” — and none other than Thomas Insel admitted that psychiatric “treatment” just sucks — NAMI’s advice to people suffering mental health crises and their families remains more or less, just trust psychiatrists, take their drugs and just do what they say, after all they are DOCTORS. 

I believe that such apotheosis of medicine as our one and only sure route to salvation has become a national cult. Any improvement in our country’s mental health crisis system, any widely available and affordable help for people who are desperate, must await the demise of this psychiatric cult. The state institutions must be ceremoniously razed. The euphemism of involuntary “hospitalization” for mental, emotional and behavioral troubles must be forgotten to history, recalled only in mockery. Forced drugging and shock must be banned as torture. 

If you can credit my point of view here at all (which I doubt), or if NAMI has any ability or intent to advocate for these changes that I recommend, then please continue to ask me for money and collaboration. Or at least correspond (I would honestly look forward to that).

But if you notice that I have not signed up with your current projects, you might understand why. 

Yours very truly,
S. Randolph Kretchmar
Kretchmar & Cecala, P.C.
1170 Michigan Ave. 
Wilmette, IL 60091

Sent from my iPhone


I think have spent most of my life in conversation or debate with people who fundamentally disagree with me. It’s what I like to do. Maybe Jessica, or someone else at NAMI, will respond, and we’ll have a dialogue.