Arizona’s mental health policies should not be written by the Church of Scientology.
That’s not exactly a radical statement. But Arizona’s Legislature needs to hear it.
Hollywood is not a great place to research best practices in modern psychiatry.
That’s another no-brainer. But Arizona lawmakers ought to write it down.
The Scientology-founded Citizens Commission on Human Rights has spent thousands of dollars to take lawmakers to Hollywood to bask in the reflected glow of celebrities and learn Scientology’s answer to mental illness.
The result, or maybe it’s just a truly amazing coincidence, is ill-conceived legislation.
Sen. Robert Cannell, a medical doctor, says the influence of Scientology’s ideas on your lawmakers “is scary.”
– Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, quoted atWhat judges have to say about Scientology
– Source: Hubbard begged for psychiatric help
The problem here is not the lobbying. There’s no reason a religious group, or any other group, shouldn’t be able to make its case to lawmakers.
But lawmakers need to listen to more than one side before drawing up legislation.
Scientology’s concern about the overuse of psychiatric drugs for young children is worth debating, but the group’s belief that mental illness should only be treated in a religious setting isn’t.
Too bad lawmakers didn’t consider that inconsistency before trying to write laws.
Scientology, not science, was behind Senate Bill 1477, sponsored by Republican Sen. Linda Gray and passed Tuesday by the Senate. The bill, drafted by the commission, calls for informed consent when conducting clinical tests of psychotropic drugs.
Legitimate in concept, but deceptive in reality. The Department of Health Services says no such tests are being done. What’s more, such trials are heavily regulated by the federal government.
Gray took two trips to Hollywood on the Scientology-founded commission’s dollar.
She did not, however, make a local call to Lynn Trimble, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Arizona, to get another opinion.
Trimble opposes this bill, and so do representatives of the Arizona Medical Association, the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers, the Arizona chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Osteopathic Medical Association. The bill is viewed as part of a nationwide campaign to discredit mental health treatment.
Another Scientology offering, previously vetoed by Gov. Janet Napolitano but back in the Legislature this year, requires parental consent before a child is screened for mental illness at school. Senate Bill 1414 failed in committee, but nothing is ever dead in the Legislature until the session ends.
Trimble supports informed consent but opposes this bill for good reason. It requires parents to sign a form that denigrates psychiatric treatment and draws a line between “real diseases” and mental illness.
Such unscientific views of mental illness stigmatize those who suffer from it and can keep them from needed treatment, often with tragic results.
Scary? You bet.
Lawmakers ought to beware of the claims of special interest groups that come bearing trips.
That may sound “well, duh” obvious. But Arizona’s Legislature obviously needs a clue.