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July 1999

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Thu, 22 Jul 1999 10:18:53 -0400
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Chris J. Brunson
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I just want to share some information.

By: Chris J. Brunson, facilitator
Affiliate: Human Rights Action Coalition

Support Coalition International Sponsored
African American Teleconference Position Paper

African Americans and the Mental Health System

        For a long time, African Americans have been primary targets of
the mental health system. Organizations like the National Alliance for
the Mentally Ill (NAMI), plus federal and state governments, are
campaigning NOW to escalate psychiatric oppression of African Americans.
A big part of this campaign is to increase the use of court orders and
other coercion to force psychiatric drugs into people living out into
the community itself, such as through legal orders called "Involuntary
Outpatient Commitment." This amounts to the government and drug industry
pushing drugs into the community, and must be resisted.

        Issues impacting African Americans in the mental health system
included forced psychiatric drugging, over medication, electro shock
treatment, brainwashing therapy, involuntary outpatient commitment,
over-use of "special"education, mislabeling, and other concerns.

        Very few psychiatrists take into account the environmental
factors associated with "abnormal" behavior. Because a sizable number of
African Americans are poor, many living in rundown buildings expose to
lead paint, infested with rats/roaches, and unsuitable ventilation
systems. On top of that, they are accompanied by stresses on the job,
or, in the home taking care of family needs.

        Moreover, little consideration is focused on whether these
labels are valid. Why? Because, the psychiatric field is dominated by
white middle class men who spend insufficient time with their
"patients," usually do not reside in their communities, and don't
understand the social dynamics plaguing this group.

        Once labeled, clients are given highly toxic medication that
causes severe side-effects and even death. They are nausea, drowsiness,
stomach pains, headaches, dry mouth, loss appetite, extremes in high/low
blood pressure, depression, confusion, and other known reactions. More
critical cases includes, aggressive, psychotic, and hyperactive
behavior.

        As a result, patients lead destabilizing lives. Many are high
school dropouts, have the highest unemployment rates in the country, and
are usually homeless. Sadly, individuals are entrapped in a system that
suppose to help them.

        Regarding our schools, teachers' salaries have not increased
substantially compare to the cost of living. Subsequently, school
administrators reduce qualifications for people who want to teach.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon lead to the teacher, who wasn't properly
trained in the first place, to place children into "special" education
classes.

Please feel free to distribute. Thank you.

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