Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The two faces of Lateline

How ironic. Lateline on the ABC last night featured an interview with Professor Patrick McGorry. He has in the past expressed his concern, as a professional mental health doctor, for the welfare of asylum-seekers imprisoned in detention centres for long periods of time, and he was again expressing such concerns last night. A less likable aspect of the professor is his insistent advocacy of routine and widespread psychiatric intervention into the lives of young people who show what could controversially be interpreted as the first signs of psychosis, including the definite possibility use of controversial neuroleptic drugs such as Seroquel/Quetiapine. Prof McGorry has been the subject of widespread and effective opposition on this front from other mental health professionals. I thought last night's interview on Lateline gave the professor a sympathetic run, with an absence of questions about psychiatric drug interventions and their negative effects. In stark contrast, apparently tonight Lateline will be running an exclusive story about the serious misuse of this same class of stupefying and damaging psychiatric drugs in nursing homes. I really do wonder whether there is a wilful lack of attention going on a the ABC. It is politically easy to question the questionable use of questionable drugs, except when a charismatic public figure says they are completely necessary.

I want an assurance from someone in the government that any asylum-seekers who develop mental illness or apparent mental illness while detained overseas will not be inappropriately or routinely prescribed questionable drugs, and will not be included in any trials of interventions of such a nature. 

Tonight's story on Lateline looks like it will be powerful stuff, but I doubt that it will be as big as the expose of the anti-anxiety psychiatric drug Xanax that was on Seven's Sunday Night last month: