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National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery | NCMHR

Coalition of Individuals with Psychiatric Labels Supports Protestors’ Efforts to “Occupy” the American Psychiatric Association Convention

[Press Release – May 3, 2012]

WASHINGTON, DC (5/3/12) – The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), a coalition comprising 32 statewide organizations of individuals in recovery from mental health conditions, supports an upcoming peaceful protest of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the controversial “bible” of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). On Saturday, May 5, 2012, as thousands of psychiatrists congregate in Philadelphia for the APA Annual Meeting, individuals with psychiatric labels and others will converge in a global campaign to oppose the APA’s proposed new edition, the DSM-5, scheduled for publication in May 2013.

Occupy the APA will include distinguished speakers 10 a.m. to noon at Friends Center (1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia), and a march at approximately 12:15 p.m. to the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch Streets), where the group will protest from approximately 1 p.m. while the APA meets inside. The event is co-sponsored by numerous organizations, including MindFreedom International, the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, and the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights.

“In particular, we are dismayed by the proposed expansion of psychiatric labels to include nearly every facet of human experience,” said Daniel B. Fisher, MD, PhD, NCMHR board member and a psychiatrist who himself recovered from schizophrenia. “This move to pathologize understandable human reactions to life’s stressors is a very dangerous trend, which could result in the indiscriminate use of medication and the discounting of such factors as poverty, unemployment and trauma.”

NCMHR holds that psychiatric labeling is a pseudoscientific practice of limited value in helping people recover. Studies have shown that psychiatric diagnosis and labeling can result in increased stigma and discrimination in employment, housing, and community relationships.

NCMHR believes that psychiatric labels obscure the socioeconomic and political roots of much of human suffering, and discount the lived experience of people struggling to cope with the effects of trauma in their lives.

“Mental health services should move away from a bio-psychiatric approach, such as the one enshrined in the DSM, to one that is trauma-informed, recovery-oriented, and led by people with the lived experience of mental health recovery,” said NCMHR director Lauren Spiro. “We need to better understand the oppressive dynamics embedded in our culture that bring about great emotional distress, and dispense more compassion and fewer labels.”