A Royal Commission into psychiatric drug companies and the Ministry of Health & TGA.
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Australians consistently report that they want psycho-social care rather than psychiatric drugs in response to their mental health needs. Despite the successes of psycho-social care for mental health issues, non-drug approaches are under attack from vested interests, primarily driven by prominent psychiatrists who would rather that biological psychiatric services (eg psychiatric drugs) be promoted. The most vociferous of these psychiatrists have long been sought as advisors regarding mental health by successive Ministers for Health. They also typically have a long history of being in receipt of funds from pharmaceutical companies- these connections with pharmaceutical companies are well documented.
Viable science based and ethical alternatives to biological psychiatry exist. For example, the British Psychological Society has developed the Power Threat Meaning Framework. This Framework brings together decades of scientific evidence to dispute the theory of brain disorders as causal for most people with problems in living; scientific evidence demonstrating the lack of validity of psychiatric diagnostic labels; and presents evidence from people with lived experience of the psychological and physical damage which psychiatric drugs can produce. Such non-pathologising frameworks are being embraced by service providers and people with lived experience internationally at the same time as prominent psychiatric lobbyists in Australia appear intent on discrediting such psycho-social alternatives in preference for the promotion of pharmaceutical company products. Spiraling poor mental health indicators demonstrate that this biological psychiatric approach has not worked, despite more psychiatric drugs being prescribed than ever before- the evidence is clearly suggesting that it is time for a change.
We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned that Australia is currently witnessing an attempted erosion of psycho-social care, in preference for biological psychiatric treatment (ie. psychiatric drugs). We are concerned that this represents a financially driven imperative by multi-national pharmaceutical companies whose agenda is to increase sales of their psychiatric drugs in this country, and poor functioning of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in it role to protect the Australian public.
We assert that a large part of the problem is the pharmaceutical company driven disparagement of psycho-social care, and a promotion of psychiatric drugs as the main form of first-line and ongoing treatment. The psychiatric advisors which successive governments have relied upon are simply continuing this long-term trend, rather than exploring genuine psycho-social alternatives or new innovations which have a solid evidence base and are being embraced internationally.
We request that the Health Department seek guidance from genuinely independent experts who have no financial history or relationships with pharmaceutical companies. We request that the Health Department take action to protect and expand the various forms of psycho-social care which currently exist and commence a process of bringing together psycho-social professionals in the mental health arena with people with lived experience in order to formulate policy directions and strategies which better serve the Australian public than do biological psychiatry and associated pharmaceutical companies. We request that the Federal Government conduct a Royal Commission into the influence of drug manufacturers on regulators like the TGA and the Commonwealth Department of Health.
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