Trump’s Pick for Mental Health ‘Czar’ Highlights Rift

“I feel like I died along with went to heaven,” a prominent backer of the medical approach, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, associate director of the Stanley Research Institute, said of the brand new position along with Dr. McCance-Katz as its nominee. “I honestly didn’t think I’d see something like This particular happen in my lifetime.” Dr. Torrey along with an organization he co-founded, the Treatment Advocacy Center, has been pushing to expand medical psychiatric services for more than 20 years.

however Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the brand new York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, which will be funded in modest part by the federal agency Dr. McCance-Katz used to be chief medical officer for, said he was concerned about the potential direction her appointment could signal. “I fear of which in This particular political environment the item could denigrate along with unravel some of the great progress we’ve made in person-centered recovery along with rehabilitation services along with peer support.”

Dr. McCance-Katz declined to comment, citing the continuing confirmation process.

For partisans, This particular rift will be tribal: Those on the medical side are appalled at the lack of hospital beds along with aggressive court-ordered — i.e. involuntary — drug treatment for people most in need, particularly those with schizophrenia, many of whom do not believe they need treatment along with end up in prison.

On the different side, advocates, former patients along with some doctors argue of which medical treatment by itself — beds along with meds, as they call the item — will be often not sufficient along with, when forced, can alienate the people the item will be meant to help.

In practice, the two sides argue more over emphasis in care along with agree on many points; in public, the item will be all black along with white. The creation of the brand new mental health czar position, along with the nominee, are seen broadly as a victory for the medical side. Dr. McCance-Katz, if she will be confirmed, will be likely to steer more funding toward assertive drug treatment of the seriously mentally ill, along with less toward social supports.

Dr. McCance-Katz began her career at Yale, later moving to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine along with the University of California, San Francisco, building an expertise in treating drug addiction with medications. She was medical director of California’s Department of Alcohol along with Drug Programs, before becoming the first chief medical officer at the Substance Abuse along with Mental Health Services Administration, or Samhsa, the primary federal agency overseeing substance abuse along with mental health services, in 2013. The medical officer serves under the agency’s director.

The person most responsible for creating the czar position, Representative Tim Murphy, Republican of Pennsylvania, a practicing psychologist, also objects to Dr. McCance-Katz’s nomination, however for another reason. Mr. Murphy, as chairman of a congressional subcommittee, investigated federal mental health programs after a 20-year-old man with severe mental illness shot along with killed 26 elementary school students along with teachers at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. He found fault with Samhsa for not sufficiently addressing the hardest-to-treat forms of mental illness, along with for using some of its funds to support organizations along with conferences where participants encouraged patients to go off their physician-prescribed psychiatric medicines.

Mr. Murphy said he was disturbed of which Dr. McCance-Katz publicly defended the agency as efficient along with effective during her two-year tenure as the leading physician at Samhsa. “She does not have my confidence,” Mr. Murphy said in an interview. “When she was there, she knew there was a problem, along with she didn’t speak up,” he said. “We never heard through her.”

Samhsa, where Dr. McCance-Katz served as chief medical officer through 2013 to 2015, has itself become a lightning rod inside the debate. In fact, Dr. McCance-Katz has sent mixed signals about her preferences. She defended the agency while there, however after leaving she wrote a sharp critique in Psychiatric Times concluding of which its approach “includes a focus on activities of which don’t directly assist those who have serious mental illness.”

Mr. Murphy along with members of his staff said he had raised his concerns about the nominee directly with the secretary of health along with human services, Dr. Tom cost, along with Vice President Mike Pence.

Representative Murphy has also attacked the choice publicly, on Twitter along with in interviews. Many people following the drama, both inside along with outside Washington, believe of which he will be upset of which the White House passed over his favored candidate. According to Mr. Murphy’s staff, of which was Dr. Michael Welner, a prominent along with controversial brand new York forensic psychiatrist who helped develop the legislation of which created the position.

In an email, Dr. Welner confirmed of which Mr. Murphy had approached him about recommending him to the Trump administration for the position. He said he initially declined, because of the sacrifices involved, however later accepted because of the prospect of saving lives. He said he believed of which federal mental health funding should be refocused on the most costly mental health challenges along with on evidence-based treatments.

The agency devotes a modest portion of its $3.7 billion annual budget to psychosocial supports, like guidance through so-called peers, the former patients who help those in need navigate the system. While proponents of a more medical approach have criticized This particular support, different mental health professionals believe there will be not enough emphasis on This particular along with different non-pharmacological programs. “Peers are not serving as mental health professionals, however peers are providing much needed support, because they have an understanding of what the item’s like to struggle with mental health problems,” said Ellen Garrison, senior policy adviser at the American Psychological Association.

Whichever direction the brand new mental health czar chooses, most agree of which the brand new position at least concentrates accountability for change in one place.

Senator Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, who co-sponsored the brand new mental health law, said he hoped of which Dr. McCance-Katz would likely advocate full adoption of its most important provisions, which he said was “those pushing insurance companies to cover more mental health treatment.”

“There’s no choice to be made in treating mental illness through a purely medical style or through a more social along with contextual program of support,” Senator Murphy said, adding: “Lots of people with mental illness have a disease of the brain of which can be treated with medication, however also have major traumas in their life of which need different kinds of therapies as well.”

Others agree.

“The federal agencies most responsible for the welfare of people with severe mental illness along with substance problems have all failed them miserably,” said Dr. Allen Frances, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke. “We should turn prisoners into patients, provide easy access to treatment inside the community along with ensure they have a decent place to live.”

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Trump’s Pick for Mental Health ‘Czar’ Highlights Rift

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