Mental Health Freedom and Recovery Act

… nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. – 14th Amendment, Constitution of the United States

The mental health system in the United States is in need of transformation. The proposal that follows is a vision for congressional legislation. Once passed and signed into law, it will serve as a beacon of hope for nations around the world.

 

Protection of Constitutional Rights

  • The Mental Health Freedom and Recovery Act will ensure constitutional rights are upheld for individuals who have been diagnosed with severe mental health conditions.
  • The act will uphold the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ensure least restrictive, most therapeutic options are made available.
  • The act will create a universal psychiatric advance directive to be respected in each of the fifty states that allows a person to refuse any/all conventional psychiatric treatment in lieu of safer, more effective options, to include treatment for acute crisis and trauma.

System Transformation

  • The act will transform the current system from a “mental illness” management model to one that offers hope and promotes optimal mental health and recovery.

Recovery Model

  • The act will place those who have been given psychiatric labels in the driver’s seat with a model that is self-empowering and community-based.
  • The act will promote consumer-run and peer-supported programs at every level of the mental health system.
  • These groups will be involved in every aspect of this legislation, from beginning to end; to ensure it is drafted in a way that addresses the concerns of those who have survived the trauma of treatment from a broken system, with their involvement in all committee hearings until a final bill is passed in both houses of Congress and signed into law.

Fully Informed Consent

  • The act will establish a universal code of informed consent for all conventional psychiatric treatment.
  • This consent will address the risks involved in hospitalizationlong-term use of psychiatric drugselectroshock (ECT) and psychosurgery.
  • The act will protect children and youth in Medicaid, foster care and juvenile justice systems, by providing treatment options other than drugs, especially drugs that have not been approved for these age groups.

Comprehensive Medical Evaluation and Diagnosis

  • The act will require that all individuals who seek assistance in the public mental health system be given a comprehensive medical evaluation to search for any underlying physical condition(s).
  • Appropriate referrals will be required for medical treatment of any condition(s).
  • This initial referral will be also be required of non-medical personnel, to include psychologists, social workers, counselors and others, prior to any psychological evaluation, diagnosis or treatment. 
  • Due to the harm often caused by psychiatric diagnosis along with the legal ramifications and societal stigma involved, current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnoses with no known physiological etiology will replaced in the public sector with an acknowledgment that severe psychological suffering is part of the human condition and can be overcome without conventional psychiatric methods.
  • Private insurance companies that provide coverage for mental health treatment will be required to pay for this assessment and provide for non-drug treatment in the same manner as currently required by existing parity laws.
  • This will include treatment for traumacounseling/therapy, and holistic treatment centers
  • Private insurance companies will no longer be required to pay for expensive and harmful toxic drugs, in lieu of safer, more cost-effective modalities for any person covered who chooses to receive them.
  • These measures will help reduce the costs associated with “chronic mental illness” in both public and private sectors and will provide a paradigm of care that helps decrease disability rolls with the encouragement of full recovery, community inclusion, and gainful, sustainable employment.

Un-Diagnosis

  • The act will allow any person who has been diagnosed with any mental disorder the opportunity to have the psychiatric label removed.
  • The act will encourage treatment of underlying physical condition(s) and/or non-drug means to address trauma, to include counseling and psychotherapy.

Treatment Options

  • The act will provide non-drug treatment options, especially for children, postpartum women and older Americans.
  • The act will ensure military service members and veterans are provided options that are safe and effective for combat-related stress disorders.

Mental Health Recovery Centers

Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal Centers

  • The act will promote private, non-profit involvement with psychiatric drug withdrawal.
  • These centers will be funded by fines imposed on drugmakers involved in the illegal research and/or marketing of psychotropics.
  • Drugmakers will also pay the costs of all psychiatric drugs used in outpatient care for anyone who is  chemically dependent or addicted and/or who chooses to taper off due to the long-term risks of these drugs, regardless of the time it takes to withdraw slowly and safely.

Federal Government

  • Due to the risks involved in conventional psychiatric treatment, no person will be required to show “compliance” in order to be eligible to apply for and/or to continue to receive SSI/Medicaid, SSDI/Medicare by opting for safer and more effective treatment.
  • The act will ensure that psychiatric drugs that were illegally researched and/or marketed by will no longer be paid for in Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans Affairs programs.
  • The act will require the Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans Affairs programs to pay for the costs of integrative approaches for children and adults who are disabled, rather than forcing institutionalization and/or psychiatric drugs.
  • Independent living councils will be required to provide information on informed consent, recovery support, integrative approaches for mental wellness, and psychiatric drug withdrawal centers.
  • Any college or university that receives federal funding will be required to provide information in these four areas to its students in counseling, social work, psychology, or related areas of study.
  • Any medical school that receives federal funding will be  required to provide the same.
  • Federal grant priority will be given to those schools that expand curriculum in these areas.

Federal Research

  • A higher portion of the budgets of the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health will be used to study non-drug approaches for severe mental health conditions.
  • These areas will include safe and effective means to address an acute psychosis, along with treatment for trauma.
  • The act will incorporate holistic options into mainstream treatment of severe mental disorders. 
  • The act will provide for the study nutrients and herbs, not only in single-form, but in combinations to determine their benefits.
  • The act will allow us to begin to scratch the surface into the scientific phenomenon of the human brain and the spiritual mystery of the mind with research into brain regeneration.

States

  • The state vocational rehabilitation agencies will be required to provide information on informed consent, recovery support, integrative approaches for mental wellness and psychiatric drug withdrawal centers.
  • Each state will be required to form a Governor’s Committee or other agency to disseminate information to city, county and state agencies about the risks of psychiatric drugs; to include their use in nursing homes, Medicaid, foster care and juvenile justice systems.
  • Each state will be required to restore the cemeteries of state psychiatric hospitals and/or allow private groups access to these sites for this purpose
  • Each state will be required to allow for the study of nutrition and holistic options, along with non-drug approaches for recovery from trauma in a juvenile correctional facility.
  • Each state will allow professionals who are well-versed in their respective arts and sciences to safely practice individualized medicine for mental health conditions without fear of reprisal from state medical boards.
  • These topics are due top priority at the annual meeting of Governors.

Consumer Choice and Competition

  • The act will allow private recovery centers and wellness programs to serve the needs of citizens who opt for holistic approaches rather than the existing state hospital or conventional psychiatric system.
  • The act will develop a voucher system to provide consumer choice for Medicaid and Medicare recipients.
  • Each state will be required to allow private and non-profit organizations to compete in providing safe places to overcome a psychosis and withdraw from psychiatric drugs, along with centers to learn about recovery and holistic approaches to achieve mental wellness.

Non-Profit, 501(c)(3) Organizations

Parental Authority

  • The act will preserve the rights of parents to seek and find the safest and most effective treatments available for their children without threat from the government.
  • The act will require Medicaid programs to pay for the costs of integrative approaches for children who are disabled, rather than forcing institutionalization and/or psychiatric drugs.

Sobriety

  • The act will respect the right of people who have been diagnosed with severe mental health disorders to achieve sobriety and abstinence from mind-altering drugs of all kinds, including prescription forms.
  • The act will also respect the predicament of people who are chemically dependent or addicted to psychiatric drugs; who may choose to reduce harm or take no part in psychiatric drug withdrawal.

Spiritual Component

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Yours in liberty and wellness,

Duane Sherry, MS, CRC-R

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