Responding to Charges Made on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Leading Mental Health Groups Support National Institute of Mental Health
April 23, 2002
CHICAGO - Several of the nation’s leading mental health groups issued a joint statement today to protest the reckless characterization of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) made by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey on CBS News’ 60 Minutes April 21. The groups restated their support for the NIMH.
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS), the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (National DMDA), the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (OCF), and the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), resoundingly support NIMH’s main focus: research in brain science to uncover the causes of mental illnesses.
"National DMDA joins with professional and advocacy groups in reaffirming our support for the Institute," said Lydia Lewis, Executive Director of National DMDA. "This joint statement is a solid indicator of NIMH’s broad support both in and out of Washington, and among patients and professionals. The NIMH is on the right track."
"One in five Americans has a diagnosable mental illness," said Michael M. Faenza, president of the National Mental Health Association. "NIMH research translates into practical treatments for a myriad of mental illness and mental health problems. NIMH helps people."
"As the events of September 11 have shown, our national government plays a vital role in all aspects of its citizens' lives and that includes their mental health. NIMH is instrumental in providing the resources and support that is needed to get research done for all mental illnesses," said Patricia Perkins-Doyle, Executive Director of the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation. "A more balanced look at the work of the NIMH, unlike the one provided on 60 Minutes, would reveal that it is focused appropriately on brain diseases and their effect on the mental health of the nation."
Dr. Torrey stated in his 60 Minutes interview that the NIMH could be closed without any damage to America’s long term health. To try to make his case, he disparaged NIMH studies by focusing on those whose titles are easily misconstrued. Torrey failed to discuss several recent, significant NIMH programs including the mapping of genetic indicators leading to mental illness, the Community Treatment of Adolescent Suicide Attempters, the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression program, the genetic origins of panic disorder, and the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder. These efforts, to name just a few, reveal that NIMH is researching all aspects of mental illnesses. They are good indicators of the Institute’s important work.
The supporting organizations believe that any mental illnesses that interfere with a patient’s daily functioning is serious and must be studied. Disparaging or making light of people suffering with depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder or other mental illnesses makes light of the devastation that these illnesses can cause on daily functioning, devastation that can all too often lead to suicide.
"To say that too much money is being spent on diseases that devastate millions of people indicates a hasty, attention-getting charge without a reasonable basis," said Jerilyn Ross, President and CEO of the ADAA. "All mental illnesses must be studied."
"Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and treatable mental illness is the leading risk factor for suicide. A spirit of cooperation, not a spirit of divisiveness, is most productive in seeking solutions to these life-threatening illnesses," said Alan L. Berman, Ph.D., Executive Director of American Association of Suicidology. "We need to work together to find common beneficial solutions while passing up the temptation to erode the work of others."
"Our group supports the important work done by the Stanley Foundation, and we recognize its contributions to the field of mental health," said John Bush, President of National DMDA and Executive Director of the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians. "However, we know research discoveries build on each other. To dismiss all the important work of NIMH excludes the value of their important groundbreaking contribution." Bush also took strong exception to an assertion by Torrey that all psychiatrists working in the public sector were less skilled and dedicated than those working in private settings.
info, training, events
- Brochures (printable)
- Living Successfully Course
- Ask the Doc
- Outside Resources
- Wellness Options
treatment, tools, research
- Peer Support
peer groups, inspiration
- Help Others
family, friends, peers
- For Clinicians