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.
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.