Dear State Representative

I am writing to express my concern about the epidemic in the U.S. of unsafe, untested, scientifically discredited mental health practices (such as 'age regression' and 'memory recovery therapy') and to ask that you please do two things to stop this waste of taxpayer and health insurance dollars and protect the mentally ill and their families:

  1. introduce the Truth and Responsibility in Mental Health Practices Act to require that mental health providers get informed consent from clients before beginning therapy or receiving reimbursement from the government or health insurers
  2. introduce legislation to provide immunity from civil suit for complaints of malpractice or unlicensed practice filed in good faith with state licensing and regulatory boards; patients and families who report incompetent therapists to the proper authorities shouldn't face the threat of lawsuits as a result

Despite recent advances in the development of effective treatments, the mental health system is plagued by the widespread use of unproven, ineffective and dangerous practices. Responsible mental health practitioners and researchers across America are increasingly alarmed by the role of indiscriminate government spending in generating these problems.

Much of the rapid growth in the use of untested and hazardous mental health practices is the result of inappropriate financial reimbursements by state, federal and private insurance systems. The current reimbursement systems do not even attempt to distinguish between effective, scientifically valid treatments and untested, hazardous and unethical mental health practices. As a result, too many American citizens and families have suffered needlessly at taxpayer expense. Moreover, the time, attention and resources now diverted to adults with so-called 'repressed memories' (which are in fact delusions created by suggestive therapy) are sorely needed in reliable, responsible programs to prevent actual child abuse and apprehend and punish actual child abusers.

Few patients would agree to untested, unsafe, experimental or known- to-be-dangerous forms of mental health practices if they were truthfully informed of the scientific status of such pseudo- 'treatments' and the existence of demonstrably safe and effective alternative treatments. Under the Act, in order to receive insurance reimbursements from state, federal or private insurance systems, providers must simply document that each mental health consumer was truthfully informed of (1) the proven benefits (if any) and proven or reasonably foreseeable risks and hazards of the proposed treatment and (2) the proven benefits (if any) and reasonably foreseeable risks and hazards of alternative treatments--before treatment begins. This rule provides a simple and powerful financial incentive for mental health practitioners to comply with universally accepted professional codes of ethics in force since the Nuremberg Trials and Conventions following World War II. Health care providers should never again be reimbursed with public or tax exempt private insurance funds for using experimental, untested and potentially dangerous forms of mental health treatment on unwarned and unsuspecting patients. Citizens are currently entitled by law to receive accurate and truthful information regarding the cars and T.V. sets they purchase. Will you deny mental health consumers similar protections from consumer fraud and abuse?

Please have your staff do the following things to learn more:

Why should the U.S. federal and state governments and health insurers subsidize untested mental therapies which have been banned as unsafe in the U.K. by the Royal College of Psychiatrists? Why should the mentally ill in the U.S. be subjected to such therapies without first being warned of their known risks and the existence of safe, effective alternatives and given the chance to make an informed choice?

A century ago the mentally ill were abused in 'insane asylums' under inhumane conditions. Only courageous journalists and legislators put a stop to the cruelty. Today the mentally ill are abused in therapists' offices at taxpayer and health insurer expense by unsafe, untested therapies. Only courageous legislators can put a stop to these new abuses.

Taxpayer dollars and tax-exempt health insurance premiums shouldn't be used for recovering repressed memories of satanic abuse or alien abduction or for any other 'therapeutic techniques' which haven't been tested for safety and effectiveness. It's time to bring the mental health industry out of the 19th century and into the 20th, transform it from an industry into a true profession, and guarantee that every patient and family is protected by the principles of informed consent and testing for safety and effectiveness.

Please demonstrate your concern for saving taxpayer dollars, reducing rising health insurance premiums, and protecting the mentally ill and their families by introducing and seeking passage of the Truth and Responsibility in Mental Health Practices Act. Or, if you have any objections to specific provisions of the Act, please author and introduce similar legislation to require informed consent for mental therapies and reimbursement by the government and health insurers.