Rethinking psychiatry: Moving mental health recovery forward


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Robet Whitaker

KBOO is a proud media sponsor for "Rethinking Psychiatry: Moving Mental Health Recovery Forward"

Thursday, February 10, 2011
The First Unitarian Church of Portland
1011 SW 12th, Portland OR

Reception 5:00pm-6:45pm

Keynote speaker Robert Whitaker and panel 7:00pm-9:00pm


"Anatomy of an Epidemic" author, Robert Whitaker, will lead panel in Portland, February 10, 2011


  PORTLAND , OREGON - January 17, 2011 -Could our drug-based paradigm of psychiatric care be fueling a modern-day plague of mental illness? What would a truly humane mental health system look like?   Journalist Robert Whitaker's controversial book "Anatomy of an Epidemic" has inspired Oregon leaders in the mental health field to question present practices and initiate major reforms.


 At 7 p.m., Thursday, February 10, 2011 at the First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland, Whitaker and a panel of mental health providers and peers will share their perspectives and plans to create a more compassionate mental health system in Oregon and across the nation.


The panel will include:
Robert Whitaker, 
author, "Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America"
 Beckie Child
, Director of the Mental Health America of Oregon

Cindi Fisher, Movement of Mothers Standing - Up -Together: Taking Back Our Children ( The M.O.M.S. Movement )

Chris Gordon, Assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Medical Director of Mental Health Advocacy.

Will Hall, Portland therapist and national leader in Peer Recovery

Gina Nikkel, Director of the Oregon Association of Community Mental Health Programs

  While it is generally accepted that psychiatry has made great progress in diagnosing and treating mental disorders in recent years, in reality, mental illness is taking an ever-greater toll on our society.  "Study after study shows that overall medicated patients fare worse than those who were not medicated," says Whitaker, "Yet the psychiatric community and pharmaceutical companies have systematically kept these results hidden from the public."

  The number of people on government disability due to a mental illness has tripled during the past twenty years and the number of disabled mentally ill children has risen 35-fold during this period. At the same time, pharmaceutical industry profits have soared.

  Panel members will discuss the painful realities of modern psychiatric care and the need for change.  The discussion will include a look at the peer movement that encourages people with mental health challenges to direct their own treatment. Whitaker plans to highlight alternatives like European programs that use psychiatric drugs in a selective, cautious manner, and produce very good results.

  Following the community forum, on February 11 and 12, mental health experts and policy-makers from around the nation will meet in Portland. Inspired by Whitaker's research, the group plans to develop and propose protocols for the optimized usage of psychotropic medication in Oregon's mental health system. The gathering will work to significantly impact mental health care here in the Pacific Northwest and across the United States.


is the author of  Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America and three previous books: Mad in America), The Mapmaker's Wife and On the Laps of Gods  He worked as a newspaper reporter for eight years and was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT. As a journalist writing about mental health, Robert Whitaker  won a George Polk award for medical writing and a National Association of Science Writer's award for best magazine article. A series he co-wrote for the Boston Globe was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in public service. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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