Drug-Based Vs. Faith-Based Mental Health Programs: Is the White House Playing Both Ends Against the Middle?
News Release 9-15-04
Open Letter to All Editors:
Heard about the New Freedom Mental Health Commission’Äôs recent recommendation to President Bush to require school children ’Äî and eventually adults ’Äî to be screened for mental illness, without parental consent? Congress has. The House overwhelmingly approved the measure in a vote on Sept 9. Only one Democrat voted against it. So much for individual liberties.
Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, M.D. chose to fight his former governor and current President by seeking to amend the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education appropriations bill to remove the mandatory screening provision. Rep. Paul knew about the brouhaha in Illinois, the first state to pass legislation requiring such screenings for all children up to age 18. There are murmurs among Illinois legislators that they might consider appealing the provision if they are convinced it is harmful. Let’Äôs see ’Ä¶ preschoolers on Prozac. Nope. Nothing wrong with that.
Do other states want to fall under this Orwellian spell? Paul also knows firsthand the machinations of the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), the scandal-ridden, drug-company-profiteering scheme that served as the model for President Bush’Äôs Commission. ’ÄúNo pressure, boys, but I kinda like this plan. It helps to fund the war chest, and there is an election coming, you know.’Äù
The TMAP pushes the newer, expensive, insurance-bankrupting psychotropic drugs, like Eli Lilly’Äôs hot seller Zyprexa. Medicaid accounts for 70 percent of Zyprexa’Äôs sales. Zyprexa accounts for one-third of Eli Lilly’Äôs sales. Lilly and other Big Pharma appointees served on the aforementioned Mental Health Commission. The pharmaceutical lobby apportioned 82 percent of its campaign contributions to Bush. Are we onto something yet? Is this the President who also touts faith-based initiatives, which are more effective morally and fiscally, for mental health?
Doctors currently prescribe dozens of psychiatric drugs in countless combinations, predominantly for depression and bipolar disorders. The results are dubious. Yet, the pharmaceutical lobby and the American Psychiatric/Psychological Associations want more drugs still. And we ignoramuses will likely see to it that they get them. Coming soon to a medicine cabinet ’Äî or a school ’Äî near you.
You might want to find out how your representative voted and contact your senators.
Family Mental Health Advocacy
Author, Outsmarting Depression: Surviving the Crossfire of the Mental Health Wars
In the sea of family ministries, one-Sheer Faith, offering a new teen book of the same title-is seeking to ride the crest of the wave with this slogan: "The adventure begins at the end of your pen." Journaling is not just an exercise for girls, according to author Debbie Thurman. This former Marine and mother of two teenagers has some tough, but compassionate talk for guys, too. The tone she writes with is actually a warm, motherly one.
"We decided not to use the word 'journal' for the masculine version of our study journal," says Thurman, "but instead chose the word 'journey' to make it more appealing to guys." Indeed, the two books look vastly different, with Sheer Faith paying homage to extreme sports while Hold My Heart, with the image of an ornate heart necklace, is reminiscent of "Princess Diaries." They cover the same topics, however, since "emotional issues and pressures are similar for guys and girls," in the words of Thurman.
Youth pastors are grateful for these two new devotional tools for teens. "I like the direct approach and the topics covered," says Ashley Bryant of Temple Baptist Church in Madison Heights, Va. "The text is solidly rooted in the Bible and is written in language that teens can relate to. They need this kind of help and exposure to truth."
Thurman has a dual-purpose ministry: she also serves as a family mental health advocate, an area of ministry she knows quite well since she once experienced a decade of major depression and has watched both her father and one brother deal with significant mental illness. "There is a crossover element to this ministry, considering the prevalence of teen mental health issues today," she observes.
The benefits of her brand of journaling are in helping teens to identify problems, recognize their emotions and learn how to separate fact from fiction. Recent world events may have helped to turn some young people to faith, but most have a lot of questions. Sheer Faith and Hold My Heart are designed to give solid answers. Teens will learn the importance of a personal relationship with God as well as who they are in his eyes.
"They can vent their feelings, knowing that God understands and wants them to be comfortable in their own skin," says Thurman. "He will show them what they need to know if they ask sincerely."
Ôø‡ 2003 Deborah M Thurman
"GROWING INTO US" is a presentation that Russ and Debbie Thurman began offering to married couples in 2002. The Thurmans, who have been married for 20 years, and have nearly 30 years of military service between them-Russ is a Vietnam veteran-know the challenges that married couples face in this face-paced world. Their marriage has survived against all odds and thrives today because, as they are quick to point out, "we have been determined to keep God at the center." The parents of two teenage daughters, Russ and Debbie have had the privilege of working out of their home for the past three years. "It didn't just happen," says Debbie. "God has been in the details, but we have worked hard to pull this off so that we could have more flexibility and spend more time together." Russ is the editor of a national trade magazine. Together, he and Debbie own and operate Cedar House Publishers, a small independent press that publishes trade books in several genres, including Christian books.
Debbie is the author of From Depression To Wholeness: The Anatomy of Healing and Journaling From Depression To Wholeness: A 12-Week Program for Healing. She recently published a devotional journal for teens, Hold My Heart: A Teen's Journal for Healing and Personal Growth. Her books are products of her own journey toward healing. She is also a growth/support group leader in her church's Life Support Ministry.
"Growing into Us" focuses on the challenges of two individuals becoming "one flesh," as God mandates, even in the face of heartache and outright rebellion. "This has been our greatest challenge and our greatest victory," says Russ. "We can offer hope and comfort to other couples who want to rise above marital challenges.
Ôø‡ 2002 Deborah M Thurman
IS AMERICA'S love affair with science and medicine being supplanted by a fascination with things spiritual? Author Debbie Thurman thinks so, citing in her book, From Depression to Wholeness: The Anatomy of Healing, that as many as 40 percent of American scientists believe in a personal God. This and other revelations open the door for a new look at the way traditional medical research and biblically based, spiritual healing techniques can combine to help the 17 million plus sufferers of clinical depression in the U.S. find healing.
When Thurman battled major depressive disorder during the entire decade of the '80s, she opened every door she knew of in search of the path back to health. Her journey took her in and out of the offices of doctors, counselors and pastors. She even consulted a nutritionist and joined a support group. Desperately seeking answers, Thurman combed book stores and libraries looking for tools that could integrate her spiritual faith with her faith in modern medicine. She came up largely empty-handed, finding mostly textbooks littered with obscure medical jargon or the occasional spiritual treatise which may or not have been rooted in her Judeo-Christian beliefs. Meanwhile, she receded farther into the darkness, wondering if it would envelop her forever.
From Depression to Wholeness is a layman's guide to overcoming depression based, in part, on the author's own journey to healing and her quest for scientifically and biblically sound answers. The book is aimed at a wide audience. "There is almost no one whose life hasn't been touched in some way by depression," Thurman says. "Either we, ourselves, or a family member or friend have struggled with it." Thurman seeks to shatter the post-modern skepticism that has resulted in outright rejection of Judeo-Christian values. This, along with increasing alienation and the decline of self-love, she maintains, has led to an epidemic of depression in our society. "In fact, our current state is being labeled an 'Age of Melancholy,' " Thurman says.
The good news is there is hope for the many millions of Americans who suffer from clinical depression and the even larger numbers who are dealing with anxiety disorders. "Depression is highly treatable with success rates of 80 percent or better as compared to only 50 percent with heart disease treatments," says the author, who encourages people not to fear good counseling and properly monitored drug therapy. "Still, too few people are seeking help. Getting people to recognize they are clinically depressed is one of the challenges," Thurman says.
Depression is now considered the most prevalent disease worldwide by the World Health Organization. Thurman notes that medical research is finding evidence of possible neurological or structural damage in depressed people's brains, but depression is nearly always characterized by a spiritual void, as well. Young people are increasingly at risk, as are the elderly. Suicide rates have nearly tripled for those between the ages of 15 and 24 since 1960, according to the National Mental Health Association. "Clearly, there is a crisis that must be addressed," says Thurman.
Thurman continually looks at mind-body-soul integration and the impact each element has on the other in influencing depression and its healing. She maintains we have choices, no matter what the causes of our depression. Modern medicine provides the first line of defense, but Thurman says we have to take responsibility for helping ourselves heal. Faith in God and an understanding of our spiritual nature clearly aid this process, she believes. Rev. Jerry Falwell hails Thurman's efforts as "a much-needed ministry, " adding "I also urge pastors to read this book." Fellow author and counselor Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D. (Gifts of the Heart and Taste-Berry Tales) says From Depression to Wholeness "brings healing to the walking wounded who silently suffer from depressive disorders" and calls the book a "must-read for counselors" as well as for those battling depression.
Ôø‡ 2000 Cedar House Publishers
DEBBIE THURMAN, author of From Depression to Wholeness: The Anatomy of Healing, believes we should be encouraged by the prevalence of depression in the U.S. population. Silently raging against rampant materialism and values devoid of truth, the many melancholics who suffer from major depression today are evidence that something is missing, and they are seeking it in great numbers, according to Thurman.
"That missing something is God's universal truth and its accompanying peace in the individuals who embrace a personal relationship with God," says Thurman. The author believes America is ripe for a spiritual revival, possibly of huge proportions, but the church has the responsibility of recognizing the spiritual hunger that knocks at its door. "Far from driving Americans to hopeless despair, our collective pain is serving as a wake-up call and forcing us to our knees as we examine our empty lives," Thurman believes. "This is good news; depression serves a real purpose - to draw us closer to God." Teenagers are particularly open to spiritual truth, current research shows.
Thurman fought her own battle with depression for more than a decade. Though she had professed to be a Christian, she says she needed to deepen her relationship with Jesus Christ. She is convinced she was healed, both spiritually and physically, from her bouts of major depressive disorder. Both medication and Christian counseling played a role in Thurman's recovery. She is quick to point out the relationship between science and religion to those who favor one over the other.
The author is outspoken in her beliefs and is dedicated to helping others find their way through depression's maze to hope and healing. She provides an interesting, enlightening interview and can discuss other issues related to depression such as family dynamics, the historical influence of various worldviews, trauma and psychodynamic issues, treatment options and pitfalls.
Ôø‡ 2001 Cedar House Publishers
Debbie | Speaking | Books | FAQ | Commentaries | Family Room | Press Room | Links
Ôø‡ 2000-2003 Deborah M Thurman
Graphic design and layout by