Commentary: Although this article does not involve a particular psychiatric drug, it draws a clear parallel to the research of Dr. Martin Harrow's naturalistic study described in Robert Whitaker's "Anatomy of an Epidemic", as well as on the Mad in America website. (Interpreting Harrow’s 20-Year Results: Are the Drugs to Blame?).
As the rates of psychiatric drug prescriptions rise, both the disability rates and the incarceration rates rise. This is not conclusive of a treatment that works. As the below study concludes, the reason for the trend is unclear; however, this new study brings an issue to light which may encourage more research and further discredit psychiatry's claims that their treatments are in any way effective or humane.
Again, the below research does not come to any definitive conclusion. Additional issues to consider include SSRI-induced violence and iatrogenic reactions to other types of prescription drugs such as opiates and stimulants. The growing movement to criminalize homelessness and poverty also becomes a driving force in the rise of mental illness and rising prison rates, as documented in current social justice literature. Although the below study is in Western Europe, the US has seen the most dramatic rise in incarceration of any country, as well as in the increasing financial ties between the pharmaceutical companies and the for-profit prison labor force.
One of the roots of the disastrous "chemical imbalance" narrative goes back to the inaccurate theory that chlorpromazine (Thorazine) emptied out mental institutions beginning in the 1950's. But since the SSRI and stimulant epidemics began in the 90's, it's clear that narrative was more science fiction than fact - Whitaker, Harrow, and now this study show that mental illness has not been reduced. It's just been relocated.
BMJ Open. 2016 Apr 29;6(4):e010188. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010188
How has the extent of institutional mental healthcare changed in Western Europe? Analysis of data since 1990
Chow WS1, Priebe S1.
Abstract - http://www.ncbi.nlm....pubmed/27130161
Full article - http://bmjopen.bmj.c.../4/e010188.long
It has been suggested that since 1990, de-institutionalisation of mental healthcare in Western Europe has been reversed into re-institutionalisation with more forensic beds, places in protected housing services and people with mental disorders in prisons. This study aimed to identify changes in the numbers of places in built institutions providing mental healthcare in Western Europe from 1990 to 2012, and to explore the association between changes in psychiatric bed numbers and changes in other institutions.
SETTINGS AND DATA:
Data were identified from 11 countries on psychiatric hospital beds, forensic beds, protected housing places and prison populations. Fixed effects regression models tested the associations between psychiatric hospital beds with other institutions.
The number of psychiatric hospital beds decreased, while forensic beds, places in protected housing and prison populations increased. Overall, the number of reduced beds exceeded additional places in other institutions. There was no evidence for an association of changes in bed numbers with changes in forensic beds and protected housing places. Panel data regression analysis showed that changes in psychiatric bed numbers were negatively associated with rising prison populations, but the significant association disappeared once adjusted for gross domestic product as a potential covariate.
Institutional mental healthcare has substantially changed across Western Europe since 1990. There are ongoing overall trends of a decrease in the number of psychiatric hospital beds and an increase in the number of places in other institutions, including prisons. The exact association between these trends and their drivers remains unclear. More reliable data, information on the characteristics of patients in different institutions, long-term pathway analyses and effectiveness studies are required to arrive at evidence-based policies for the provision of institutional mental healthcare.