On the mental health system

I spend a good deal of my adult life thinking about the mental system.  I’ve spent years working in it, criticizing it, making movies about it, visiting programs within it, giving lectures about it, trying to help people escape from it, interviewing people about it, trying to improve it, and often just thinking that it needs to be scrapped, melted down, and rebuilt.  Although the mental health system helps some people, it harms so many — so unnecessarily.  I have seen many lives destroyed by it. That sickens me.

Below I present a variety of essays on the subject.  Some are links to essays I’ve written for other websites.  I am a blogger on madinamerica.com, and have published essays there and elsewhere (such as on mindfreedom.org and beyondmeds.com).

Unfortunately I don’t always get notified of comments on the other websites, so if you read those essays feel free to share your comments about them here on this page.

4 thoughts on “On the mental health system

  1. Hi Daniel,
    I’ve just read your essay “Reflections on Being a Therapist”. I write to you in tears because this piece truly spoke to me. Though I am still quite new in the field of psychotherapy as a counsellor (3 years to be exact, 10 years in the mental health field), I submitted my resignation about 3 weeks ago. Similarly to what you shared in your entry, I feel emotionally (and physically) drained. I am filled with self-doubt as a counsellor because though I know that I don’t have all the answers that my clients are looking for, the pressure to provide them with these can be overpowering. I will continue to work as a counsellor until the end of the month, but I truly have no idea what I want to do with my life afterwards. I feel pressured to pay off my student loans and become an independent adult, so I can’t help but feel as if I was taking a step backwards, but I ultimately know that this is the right decision for me. Like you, I also have a passion for mental health… I just don’t think counselling is what I want to be doing anymore. Any tips for somebody like me? I’m feeling pretty discouraged, lost, and scattered at the moment.

  2. The mental health system is burdened with a large amount of mentally ill patients, all of which are difficult to deal with. The amount of TMS therapies, psychotherapies and medication required for the vast numbers of victims of mental disorders is almost impossible to fulfill.

  3. I’ve read your “Therapy Without Force” paper, on a website I have growing respect for; but I’m worried by several parts of your paper: that a therapist can find a client’s emotional needs too much and to step away?! Surely that’s your issue, not the clients’? This feels really damaging to the client.

    • when i wrote that paper i was referring to extreme situations — and yes, that does become the therapist’s problems. for instance — if a client is threatening to beat up or kill the therapist, or is threatening to kill himself and not showing up to sessions, which can totally stress out a therapist. that’s what i was referring to. not just more “regular” stuff — in which cases i’d say the therapist has much less of a “right” to pull away from the client.

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