My guest today is Laurie Anspach, Director of Mental Health Rights. Laurie has spent 20 years as a mental health advocate in Florida, working side-by-side with legal and medical professionals to assist individuals in protecting their mental health rights. Well be talking about how individuals—particularly children and the elderly—are often given toxic drugs for mental health conditions that can be handled without them, and the rights we have to refuse such drugs. Laurie says, “Having helped people over such a long span of time, it is clear that when an individual gets full information of the facts, and specifically in regards to their situation, they are able to assert their rights.” www.mentalhealthrights.org
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Toxic Drugs and Your Mental Health Rights
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Laurie Anspach
Date of Broadcast: July 09, 2015
DEBRA: Hi. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic free. It’s Thursday, July 9th, 2015 and I’m here in a beautiful sunny day in Clearwater, Florida.
Today, we’re going to talk about our rights. This is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time actually because we do have basic human rights and I think that one of them is the right to be healthy and happy and not have our health harmed by things. Let’s see. Health, happiness and – I’m trying to remember the opening of one of our famous American documents. I’ll think of it. I’ll look it up during the break.
Anyway, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That’s it – Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Life, to be alive and to not be sick and to be able to function in life and pursue what you want to do and not be harmed by things around you, is one of our basic human rights.
Today, we’re going to talk about it in the realm of mental health. I’m going to let my guest explain this, but just to be brief about it. Many people in the world today are being given mental health – I don’t even want to say mental health because that doesn’t seem right. I think you got what I’m saying.
Anyway, many people are being given drugs to control their mental state, not understanding what these drugs can do. We have rights. We do have rights to not be given those drugs. We’re going to talk more about that. For me, I consider mental drugs to be toxic chemicals. So it’s just like being exposed to any other toxic thing that would affect your mental state and many toxic chemicals do.
So we’re just going to talk about these drugs. We’re going to talk about our rights to not take them. We’re going to talk about what’s going on in the world about people being forced to take them. For me, that’s much in the same way that we’re being forced to take toxic products. We’re being forced to use toxic products because we don’t have alternatives although there are many alternatives. They’re on the market. They’re polluting the environment. They’re polluting places.
We have rights and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
My guest is Laurie Anspach. She’s the Director of Mental Health Rights. She has spent 20 years as a mental health advocate in Florida, working side-by-side with legal and medical professionals to assist individuals in protecting their mental health rights. Her website is MentalHealthRights.org.
Hi, Laurie. Hello. Are you there? Hello, Laurie? Well, I’m not hearing Laurie. Let’s see. I just have to talk to the station for a second. Oh, I’m getting a message from the station. Okay. She’s being called back and we’ll have her just in a second.
So anyway, what can I say until she gets back? Mental health rights. So there are more things about Laurie. We’ll be talking about how individuals, particularly children and elderly, are often given toxic drugs for mental health conditions that can be handled without them and the rights we have to refuse such drugs.
Laurie says having healthy people over such a long span of time, it is clear that when individuals get full information of the facts and specifically in regards to their situation, they are able to assert their rights. That’s what she does.
Do we have Laurie on the line?
LAURIE ANSPACH: Hi Debra. How are you today?
DEBRA: I am fine. How are you?
LAURIE ANSPACH: Great. Thank you for having me on your show. I’m really honored.
DEBRA: Thank you. Laurie, I gave a little introduction. I’m not sure if you heard it because we were disconnected there. But why don’t you just go ahead and explain what’s going on in the world today with regards to mental health that requires you to be an advocate?
LAURIE ANSPACH: Absolutely I’d love to. There are different categories of people out in the world that there are those that run into problems with their mental health, behavior health, learning, educational learning problems area. And there are those that don’t run into it.
I can tell you, Debra in 20 years, it’s rare that I ran into an individual who hasn’t had some difficulty in asserting their rights or their position or their decision in regards to their own mental health, their child’s behavior health, in regards to learning difficulty in the school area. I can give examples of that, but just to let you know how rare it is that I ran into people that aren’t familiar with this to some degree.
Over the years, myself and many volunteers in the nonprofits I’ve been involved in, we’ve been out in community events, making known our nonprofit and our advocacy services. I can tell you one for one for one, typically 99% of the people that we would meet in a five hour period, which is anywhere from 500 to 1000 people – 99% of those people have a story to tell.
And essentially, all we do as advocates is provide the information that’s accessible to anyone but rarely given by the mental health or the medical community. That relates back to having full information. And it’s very much aligned with what you do as an advocate for toxic-free life.
DEBRA: Give us some examples for people who haven’t had an experience with this or people who have. Just give us some ideas and a couple of examples of this where people are running into a problem and they need your help.
LAURIE ANSPACH: For sure. The way that I got involved actually was I was running an art school here in Florida. Many parents who would bring their children into my school would apologize ahead of time for their child and let me know that the child was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or some other disorder and that they may not be able to learn in a class environment.
I had just moved here from New York and I was unfamiliar with these types of labels. I started to do some research at the library. This was long before the internet. I found that there were different diagnoses that were being handed out for children in the school environment.
One thing led to another and I ended up becoming an advocate because what I found was for example, most parents do not know that they have the right to decline the mental health medication. They don’t know that they have the right to report a school teacher, a school principal or any school personnel for pushing them to put their kid on ADHD medication.
DEBRA: I just need you to back up from there because I don’t have children and I’ve heard preferably about these kinds of things. But would you just give us more details about what is going on in the schools? How are these children being forced to be taking these drugs?
LAURIE ANSPACH: There are many factors in anyone that follows the educational arena in terms of how the schools are rating, the pressure to get the kids through the test and to have the school rate well in terms of how the kids are coming out in terms of their grade point average, their grades, their testing scores.
We’ll put an average of 25 to 30 students in a class. If a number of those students fail these tests or not doing well, it reflects poorly on the teacher and their job is at risk. Over the decades – this started to occur in the late 60s, early 70s, but it has now escalated to a point where a child, if they are not “keeping up” with the rest of the class, they will be again “offered” special education services.
Now with that recommendation or that offer comes testing. And the testing is supposed to focus on the child’s learning ability.
DEBRA: Laurie, I need to just interrupt you for a minute because we need to go to break. When we come back, we’ll hear more about this.
LAURIE ANSPACH: Okay, great.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Laurie Anspach. She’s the Director of Mental Health Rights at MentalHealthRights.org. We’re talking about our rights to not be exposed to toxic things today. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Laurie Anspach. She’s the Director of Mental Health Rights. The website is MentalHealthRights.org.
We’re talking about our mental health rights to not be given drugs against our will I guess is the way to say it. So Laurie, you were telling us about what happens in schools. So would you continue with that?
LAURIE ANSPACH: Absolutely. So if a child is placed in special education or even if they’re not offered a place in special education and if the teacher suggests to the parent, “Your child has ADHD. You need to take them to the doctor,” the parent is not obligated to do so. But unfortunately Debra, most parents don’t know that and they do take the suggestion. They take their child to the doctor. The doctor then diagnoses them with ADHD and prescribe the ADHD med, which carry very severe FDA warnings of heart risks, suicidal ideation, sudden death, cardiac arrest, just to name a few.
I’ve dealt with a lot of parents that didn’t know that there was a special law, a Florida law that prohibits school personnel from forcing them or coercing to medicate their child as a requisite to going to school. But we have parents that most often, the father and the mother, work and they need to keep their jobs and the kids need to go to school. So if the parent thinks that that ability to go to school is being threatened, they will automatically comply and go to the doctor.
Unfortunately again, they’re not given full information about the risks of mental health drugs nor are they given information about the alternatives. But most importantly and the crust of the issue or the problem is there are no medical tests to evidence in mental health diagnosis a learning disorder. They don’t use brain scans or chemical imbalance test, blood test to evidence what they then use as a diagnosis to prescribe the med.
DEBRA: So basically it sounds like you’re saying that a teacher or some official at the school can decide based on their observation I guess that a child has this condition. And then the teacher can tell the parent to go to the doctor and get these drugs. And the doctor just listens to the teacher?
LAURIE ANSPACH: The teachers have – yeah, go ahead.
DEBRA: If the parent comes in and says, “My child’s teacher said that I need to come to the doctor and that this child needs this drug,” then the doctor just says, “Okay. I’m going to give it to them.” So the doctor doesn’t give any medical test? The doctor has no diagnosis?
LAURIE ANSPACH: There’s no medical test ever because they don’t exist. Even the mental health community admits there is no medical test to evidence. The diagnoses are based upon the symptoms. So if the teacher shares her observations that the child is not sitting still, he doesn’t focus, he’s moving around, he’s fidgeting, that teacher-based observation goes to the pediatrician, the therapist and then it becomes a strong recommendation to the pediatrician or the psychiatrist to then prescribe the med.
The physicians themselves are adhering to this mainstream thought process of “Yeah, prescribe the med.” I know this firsthand because I do cold calling out to physicians across the state and sometimes out of the state. It’s a rare moment that I actually speak with a physician who will not quickly and immediately and firstly opt for the mental health med.
DEBRA: That’s what doctors do. That’s what they’re trained to do.
LAURIE ANSPACH: That’s what they’re trained to do. We are fortunate that there are medical professionals and there have been since the 1960s who are experts in the area of learning disorders, mental health symptoms and behavior health symptoms. And they can and will perform medical tests to evidence what potential underlying physical situation may be existing that would cause the child to not sit still, to not be able to focus, to fidget.
These same medical tests can be performed to help anyone who is experiencing life stresses or, as you cover in all your very good works, the stresses of toxic foods, toxic environments, nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, hormone problems, thyroid problems. All these things can be tested for no matter what individual, a child or an adult or a senior citizen.
And then when the physical situation is evident, they can use traditional medicine to help the person heal their body as opposed to putting toxic mental health drugs that carry severe warnings on them.
It’s a vested interest when you look at the fact that again these are voted into existence by physicians, psychiatrists who – a University of Massachusetts study showed that the majority of those physicians have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies. It’s a simple formula to follow the money.
DEBRA: Yeah. But as I said before, this is what doctors are trained to do. They’re trained to look at the patient and see what drug they should prescribe. That’s why you go to the doctors, to get drugs.LAURIE ANSPACH: Exactly. It’s a pharma world.
LAURIE ANSPACH: What we try to do as advocates is fill in the missing pieces. For example, back to the child in the school, when a parent is made aware either beforehand, during this type of situation or even afterward that there is a Florida and federal statutes that prohibit the school personnel from coercing to medicate their child, they can then make the decision not to medicate their child. They have the right. That’s the parental right.
Unfortunately, many of the hotline calls that I’ve taken over the years are from parents who did not know that there were those statutes in existence. They did not know the FDA warnings on the med. And they call after the fact when the adverse effects are taking place and their child is not doing well or has passed away.
There’s nothing more tragic than speaking to a parent whose child has passed away because of the FDA adverse effects of these drugs. So it’s a driving force for myself and advocates like myself to really get out to many parents and many individuals because I can give you examples of adults, but also senior citizens and the situations that they get involved in.
DEBRA: We need to go to break now. When we come back, I’d like for us to talk about senior citizens because I know that there are a lot of elderly people who are in rest homes or even at home who are being given high doses of drugs by their doctors for their family. We will talk about this when we come back.
You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Laurie Anspach. She’s the Director of Mental Health Rights and that’s at MentalHealthRights.org.
And you can also go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and learn all about the past guests. You can listen to all the shows. We have more than 200 shows in archives and all about things having to do with living in a less toxic way or being more aware of toxic issues.
So Laurie, we talked before about children and schools. But tell us about a typical situation with a senior citizen and where this might come up.
LAURIE ANSPACH: Most definitely. As I mentioned there, in Florida, we have a large majority of senior citizens here. It’s a great place to retire. And unfortunately, it’s also a great place to scoop up the elderly and put them into the mental health arena. It’s a terrible way to say it, but I’ve taken many, many, many calls from adults, children and also the elders themselves.
What typically happens Debra is that if an elder is living on their own or perhaps their spouse just passed and they were married forever, more than 50 years, they’re sad like real life grief and real life stress. And they’re visiting their physicians for whatever physical element they might have.
And they express the fact that they are sad or they might as well not continue with life or whatever expression that was used to be used before what’s going on now in terms of mental health. That will get interpreted that the elder person is unable to care for themselves, is potentially a risk to themselves and many times the elder will be involuntarily committed. In the State of Florida, that’s called the Baker Act.
Now because there aren’t typically family members close by, this all happens without the family knowing. The elder gets placed into mental health facility, gets placed under mental health drugs. Typically with forcing your citizens, what is used is a class of drugs called antipsychotics. The FDA placed a special warning on the antipsychotics for the elderly of increased mortality. In addition to that, there’s a black box warning of [inaudible 00:29:24] here.
Once something like this, this [inaudible 00:29:28] or this motion starts to happen, the elder is then reviewed for her or his ability to function in life. And often, [inaudible 00:29:41] incapacitated and unable to either take care of their own affairs or a segment of their affairs, whether that would be their financial, their property and their health. It’s an open door for the elder to start losing control over their life and what’s going on.
So it’s unfortunate, but it’s beneficial if elders, adults and children get this information ahead of time that we’re talking about. There are no medical tests to the mental health diagnoses. Life does have stresses. There are medical professionals that can test for underlying physical causes. Seniors often do have medical problems to start with, but the same traditional medical professionals can work with them to help them get through the stressful time such as the loss of a loved one without having to go into the mental health arena especially if that entails an involuntary commitment or the mental health med.
Most of the time, when I review medical records from senior citizens to find them on multiple mental health meds and up to as many as 15 of them. This has to do with no oversight and again lack of informed [consent?].
I always encourage families to stay connected to their elder and to really think about what they want to do in terms of power of attorney should the elders start experiencing some signs of dementia or a physical disability that makes it harder for them to get around. There are different things that they can consider doing that will help protect their elder family member and there are a few fantastic attorneys in the State of Florida that will help put in place the legal paperwork to make sure that that is never a challenge.
DEBRA: I’m just stunned. Stunned maybe isn’t the right word, but you don’t think that these things happen. You just go along in your normal life and you often don’t know that these things are going on in the world.
One thing that I wanted to mention listening to all this – I’ve talked about this on the show before, but I think it [inaudible 00:32:13] repeating here. I have a situation in my life where early in my life, I took a thyroid medication called Synthroid, which is a thyroid hormone, but it’s synthetic and it’s a prescription. My brother was also given that.
I decided that I was going to get off of it and not take it because it gave me side effects and I started taking Armour Thyroid, which is a natural product. My brother stayed on it and ended up in the mental ward of a hospital.
What happens is Synthroid can give you psychiatric symptoms and the antidote for them is to just give you psychiatric drugs. And that started him on being addicted to mental health drugs for the rest of his life until he died at age 58, which is very young I consider. He was just addicted to those drugs and nobody ever got him off of them.
LAURIE ANSPACH: I’m so sorry to hear that, Debra. It’s most relevant to what we’re talking about because that’s exactly the path that many individuals go on because many of these mental health drugs are highly addictive and the FDA warns of that. Again, the individual is never given that full information.
DEBRA: But it’s standard practice. The thing that [inaudible 00:33:48] is that it’s standard practice to give people Synthroid. It’s like, “Oh, you need some help with your thyroid. Here’s the Synthroid pill and here are your mental health drugs.”
LAURIE ANSPACH: Exactly.
DEBRA: It’s a package. It’s a package.
LAURIE ANSPACH: It’s a package and it deserves a closer inspection from where I sit because I’ve looked at many, many, many package inserts. I know exactly what you’re talking about. If you look at the package inserts or speak to an MD even and ask questions about a class of antibiotics called floral crinoline, you’ll see that psychiatric side effects are actually listed on those antibiotic package inserts.
DEBRA: But they don’t read them. They don’t read them and the doctor doesn’t make sure that they’re aware of it. Anyway, we need to go to break, but we’ll talk about this when we come back.
You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Laurie Anspach. She’s the Director of Mental Health Rights and her website is MentalHealthRights.org. We’ll be right back.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Laurie Anspach. She’s the Director of Mental Health Rights at MentalHealthRights.org.
Laurie, I’d like to bring this home so to speak. We’ve talked about different groups of people, children and elders. I think what I’m getting is that even if you don’t have somebody who’s insisting or coercing or whatever to have you take mental health drugs – as we were talking on the last segment, I started thinking about how frequent it is that people listen to their doctors. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t listen to their doctors or they shouldn’t comply.
I was interviewing doctors. I was looking for an MD just because I think I should have an MD. So I was interviewing doctors and I went to one doctor. We talked five minutes. He started yelling at me for not being a compliant patient. I just got up and I said, “Thank you very much. I don’t think you’re the right doctor for me.” And I walked out.
And he very much had this attitude that I was supposed to do everything that he told me without question. I have this idea that probably more doctors are like that than not. I think that the general attitude [inaudible 00:40:30] if my doctor tells me.
I’ll just tell you. My father, seven years ago, was lying in a hospital dying and I offered to bring him some fresh juice and he didn’t want it. He said, “I’m just going to do what my doctor tells me.” He did what his doctor told him until he died. And he wouldn’t do any life-affirming thing like drinking fresh juice.
LAURIE ANSPACH: Isn’t that amazing and shocking and appalling?
LAURIE ANSPACH: It is.
DEBRA: I was amazed, shocked and appalled. And there are so many things that I know. I mean the kind of healthcare that I get for myself personally is not about treating illness with a drug. It’s about doing things that create life in your body, that create health.
There are all kinds of things that you can do on the positive side from taking supplements to eating organic food, to drinking enough water. There are just all these things that we can do, getting enough sleep, exercise. And people don’t do those things and then they go to a doctor and they want to get a pill. Then the doctor says, “Okay, I’m going to give you this pill.” And you don’t get the warnings that those can do to you.
LAURIE ANSPACH: That’s exactly right.
DEBRA: I mean I understand this because I came from a family that did that. That was given to me as a child. I spent 20 years going to a doctor and taking prescriptions until I decided that prescriptions don’t create health. They may alleviate symptoms, but they don’t create health.
We have so many things available to us that we could be doing that are life-affirming that restore our bodies, that give us what our bodies need in order to be healthy. And we’re not doing them.
LAURIE ANSPACH: That’s exactly right. And if we do come full circle to what can people do, first pay attention to your newsletter, your radio show. Debra, you do such a fabulous job. The amount of health that can be derived from all the things that you’re talking about is incredible. Also individuals who may have nutritional problems, any kind of physical problems, they’re going to only benefit from more healthy lifestyles and nutrition.
And then also get the information on what is happening in the mental health community, what is happening in the medical community because there are more substance abuses now really under the umbrella of mental health. Medical is really under and in conjunction with that same umbrella of mental health. Mental health insinuates in absolutely every profession all the way to veterinarian.
LAURIE ANSPACH: They’re prescribing mental health drugs for animals, for illnesses as opposed to really treating the illness.
If individuals just took a little bit of time maybe a couple of times in the internet or just a conversation with an advocate to just get some basic ABCs of what are your rights, what is the information, what are some of the resources online where you could look up what your doctor is saying or suggesting.
For example, there are a lot of people who don’t eat well or don’t exercise or not taking care of themselves or having just too much stresses and don’t sleep well. It’s a big problem. So they go to the doctor and the next thing you know, they’re on the benzodiazepine and benzodiazepine is extremely dangerous and highly addictive. Yet, they may not think twice about it because like you’re saying, “Well, the doctor prescribed it.”
DEBRA: It’s because people trust their doctors. I’m not saying that doctors are not trustworthy, but we grew up – actually not everybody in the world grew up this way. But there are a lot of people who grew up and that the doctor is the one. You go to the doctor, you can trust your doctor and the doctor will give you something that will make you better.
The whole idea of the modern medical paradigm is to go to the doctor and get a drug. But drugs do not make your body healthy. Drugs can’t alleviate symptoms, but they can’t make your body healthy. If you’re not doing the health-building things, you’re not going to be healthy. That’s just the way it is. That’s just “Two plus two equals four.”
I think what I would want to say to my listeners after listening to everything that you said is you have the right to make your own decisions and that you don’t have to do something just because the doctor or a teacher or anybody else tells you that you have to do it. You have your own freedom of choice to decide for yourself if this is right for you. That would be number one.
Number two is if somebody that you go to for advice on your body or your mental state gives you the treatment, you should do your own research and find out if that’s the thing that you want to take. I take a lot of supplements.
I just started taking a new herbal product and stuff. These are all natural and healthy and things, but I don’t put them in my body until I check them up myself. I go to professionals because I trust them to have more experience and knowledge than I do in this field and that they can assess my body and figure out the right thing to give me. But I still look on those labels. When somebody gives me and puts a supplement in my hand, I look and then I see if it has any extraneous ingredients in it that I don’t want to take.
We all have the right to do this. And if more people would do this, if they would do it in their own lives, if they do it with their children, if they would do it with their elders, we’d have a lot less problem with drugs.
LAURIE ANSPACH: A hundred percent. It empowers the individual to really take control over their own health and their wellbeing and their loved ones and their friends and their neighbors.
And just as an experiment, each of your listeners can just ask one person that they know, “Have you ever had a problem with this? Have you ever been prescribed the med? Did you ever have any adverse effect?” I’d be very surprised if not every single one of us knows at least one person who has ran into trouble with it.
DEBRA: I’m sure because drugs have many adverse effects. I’ve had adverse effects with drugs, which is one of the reasons why I don’t take them anymore. And I’ve seen people like I already explained about my brother just getting addicted to these things. He shouldn’t have died at age 58. He just shouldn’t have.
Anyway, we’re almost at the end of the show. This has been so interesting. This has been so interesting. So I think we really need it because drugs are toxic substances. We shouldn’t be putting them in our bodies unless we really know.
It’s just a matter of not having the information and it’s so easy to get it. If somebody gives you a drug, you can just go online and type in the name of the drug and you will get pages and pages of information about what the health effects are. You can go to a site like WebMD. They tell you all the side effects and everything. All the information is there.
It’s just each one of us making the decision to exercise our right of choice and the right to find out about it and then say no if that’s not – if a doctor gives you a drug and you go online and you see all these health effects, you can then go back to your doctor and say, “Excuse me, but I’d like to have some other treatment. There must be another way to handle this than put this toxic stuff in my body.”
When I decided that many, many years ago, I started looking for other kinds of treatment and I found them. It has made all the difference.
So I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing.
LAURIE ANSPACH: Yeah. And I’m so happy you’re out there doing what you’re doing, Debra. I applaud you and commend you highly. You’re absolutely right. I’m so sorry for your brother because he should not have had to pass away so young and they could have been prevented. The drugs are highly addictive and they have severe FDA warnings.
Thyroid problem, in itself – when the medication is given, again like you were saying, go into internet. Just put the name of the drug and then put “FDA package inserts” because if you read it right from the package insert, there’s no interpretation. I do that for every single drug because then you know what the risks are, what the alleged benefits are.
And just as an added note, we’re in a country where there’s direct-to-consumer advertising on pharmaceuticals.
DEBRA: I need to just interrupt you because the music is going to come on in just a few seconds. I want to say thank you.
Laurie’s website is MentalHealthRights.org. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. Be well.