Wednesday, January 22, 2020

By Michelle McGlynn

Picture: iStock

People are being warned to be cautious of information on mental health being distributed by a Scientology-linked group.

It is understood leaflets from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights have been sent to homes in Dublin regarding antipsychotic medicines.

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPI) says the information is “erroneous and potentially harmful”.

“To suggest that no mental health problem should receive treatment is entirely incorrect and goes against a large body of scientific and clinical knowledge,” said Dr Maeve Doyle, Director of Communication and Public Education and Consultant Psychiatrist.

“This leaflet could cause unnecessary distress to people who are already receiving treatment and may cause them to stop their treatment with serious consequences for themselves and their families.

“It may also prevent people who are in urgent need of treatment from seeking help.”

The College has advised that individuals do not stop taking their medication.

Anyone who may be concerned about their medication for any reason should discuss it with their psychiatrist or their GP.

The leaflet claims that “According to top experts, the majority of people having mental problems are actually suffering from nonpsychiatric disease that is causing emotional stress”.

Dr Doyle said that emotional stress can cause mental health problems and vice-versa.

“A key role of the psychiatrist is to listen to the patient’s story and determine whether their current experiences are due to mental illness or not,” she said.

“This helps to guide management which is delivered by the psychiatrist as well as allied health professionals – nursing staff, psychologists, occupational therapists.”

According to Dr Doyle, psychiatrists will sometimes see individuals who do not have a mental disorder or illness but are suffering with emotional stress.

“Such individuals may receive psychosocial support through the mental health service or be signposted to support in primary care such as supportive counselling as well as their general practitioner.”

The CPI says that the causes of the illnesses mentioned in the leaflet are multifactorial.

There are many environmental causes such as substance use, traumatic events and genetic vulnerabilities.

“Treatments, including medication and therapies such as CBT and Occupational therapies, are more individually targeted nowadays – one size does not fit all.”

Dr Doyle said that informed consent is always sought from a patient when prescribing antipsychotics and information, including side effects, is provided and explained and/or provided in leaflets to patients.

Patients who are taking antipsychotics are extensively monitored including with physical tests.

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