Whitely tells Parliament – It’s time to confront Patrick McGorry’s disease mongering and end the guru-isation of Australian mental health policy



“Personalities, rhetoric and charisma are driving the direction of mental health rather than science and evidence.” (Martin Whitely MLA, Parliament of Western Australia, 25 September 2012)

Related Media

Sue Dunlevy, News Limited Sunday papers, 7 October 2012, Doubts cast on youth mental health program. Available at  http://www.news.com.au/national/doubts-cast-on-youth-mental-health-program/story-fndo4eg9-1226489760605

Also see Patrick McGorry’s ‘Ultra High Risk of Psychosis’ training DVD fails the common sense test http://speedupsitstill.com/patrick-mcgorrys-ultra-high-risk-psychosis-theory-fails-common-sense-test

MARTIN WHITELY (Trancript of speech in the Legislative Assembly, Parliament of Western Australia, 25 September 2012): I want to use this opportunity to talk about some very serious concerns I have about the direction of the mental health policy in Australia. My basic contention is that personalities, rhetoric and charisma are driving the direction of mental health rather than science and evidence.

In May 2011, the Gillard government announced that it would spend $2.2 billion on mental health initiatives over five years. The biggest program it announced expenditure on, costing $222.4 million and which would be matched by state governments, was for the rollout of 16 Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre sites nationally, which would have “the capacity to assist more than 11 000 Australians with, or at risk of developing, psychotic mental illness.[1]

A month later, amid growing criticisms of the ability to help those at risk of becoming psychotic, Patrick McGorry, the chief architect of EPPIC services, told The Australian “EPPICs do not treat people with psychosis risk but only patients who have had their first psychotic episode…”[2]

That is in direct contravention to what was said in the May 2011 announcement. Since then the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, once in December 2011[3] and again in June 2012[4] indicated that EPPICs may not treat those perceived to be at ultra-high risk of becoming psychotic; which is in conflict with what he said in the May 2011 rollout.

Frankly, confusion reigns supreme. I asked a question in the May 2012 estimates process in the Western Australian Parliament about the functions of the planned Western Australian EPPIC services. The response that came back as supplementary information after the estimates process stated “The Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) services are for young people with first episode early psychosis and for detecting those with ultra high risk of developing psychosis.”[5]

Members can see the confusion. The initial announcement was that they would be for the purpose of assessing those at ultra-high risk of developing psychosis. Then there was a backdown by both McGorry, the architect of EPPIC, and the mental health minister. Then the state government indicated that that was one of the chief functions.

How could the functions of the most expensive program that is being rolled out nationally be so confused? There are two reasons for this: first, because we have been let down by the politicians in Canberra on all sides—I am one of the rare critics in politics of what is happening—and, second, because we have been let down by the media. They have been inattentive to the detail of what is on offer.

The problem is that the politicians have let a handful of gurus relying on rhetoric, charisma and hype drive the direction of the mental health policy in Australia. They have accepted their overblown claims without scrutiny. The danger is that young Australians will suffer as a result.

Patrick McGorry is undoubtedly the biggest of those gurus. EPPIC is very much his baby. Patrick McGorry has two claims to fame. The first is obviously the fact that in 2010 he was made Australian of the Year. The second is that he is one of the world’s most prominent advocates of preventive psychiatry. The philosophy of preventive psychiatry is basically the idea that a stitch in time saves nine. In other words, if we get in pre-emptively before people become mentally ill, we can help them—we can prevent it.

He uses the language of early intervention when he is really (often talking about prevention and) not talking about early intervention. He is (often) not talking about getting people when they become psychotic; he is talking about getting in there prior to the advent of psychosis. The theory is that we can spot and stop psychosis and a range of mental illnesses before they happen. Intuitively, it seems like a reasonable theory. However, the independent evidence that is available shows that there are two problems with the theory.

First, we cannot predict with any accuracy who will become mentally ill. In the case of psychosis, the accuracy of predictions are somewhere between eight per cent and 36 per cent. Second, even when we do predict those who will go on to become psychotic, the interventions that are on offer simply do not help in the long term. There is little evidence of sustained benefits.

The problem that we are all saddled with is that Patrick McGorry has been unable to accept that his theory does not stand up to the evidence. He has been unable to accept that even when this theory has been rejected internationally. We should be doing a double take on what we are doing in Australia.

We can thank Professor McGorry for putting mental health on the political agenda in the lead-up to the 2010 election. His status as Australian of the Year allowed him to do that, but we cannot continue to blindly follow him where he tells us to go. Frankly, that is just what is happening.

In the lead-up to the 2010 election, as I said, mental health was on the agenda for the first time. Anybody who watched Insight on SBS in July 2010 would have noticed just how deferential the presenters and the politicians were to Patrick McGorry—in particular Peter Dutton on behalf of the Liberal Party and Mark Butler on behalf of the Labor Party. Peter Dutton went the furthest; he said “we’re going to roll out a national scheme based on advice by people like John Mendoza, Pat McGorry, Ian Hickey, David Crosby and others.”[6] He added that “early intervention is proven, without any doubt, to work”. Frankly, that is just complete and utter rubbish. The independent evidence shows us anything but that.

In fact, Patrick McGorry used an address to the National Press Club in the lead-up to the 2010 election to say that we had “twenty-first century solutions” that were just waiting to be implemented if only government would urgently fund these “proven approaches”.[7]

The rhetoric continued after the election. In March 2011 Professor McGorry was the co-author of a blueprint for mental health that significantly said — “EPPIC has the largest international evidence base of any mental health model of care, demonstrating not only their clinical effectiveness but also their financial and social return on investment. This is a mature model simply requiring implementation in Australia.”[8]

Frankly, the hype is not backed up by the evidence. In 2011 the Cochrane Collaboration, which is acknowledged internationally as one of the world’s most rigorous, systematic and comprehensive sources of independent, reliable medical information, found that there was “inconclusive evidence” that early intervention could prevent psychosis and that “there is a question of whether the gains are maintained”.[9] Professor McGorry responded by attacking the Cochrane review, saying it used flawed methodology.[10] As I pointed out, Cochrane is widely regarded as the gold standard for international research. ` Other evidence that the claims are not supported by the facts was provided by a Queensland psychiatric registrar and economist—he has dual training—Andrew Amos, who wrote an article in the June edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry entitled “Assessing the cost of early intervention in psychosis: A systemic review”.[11] He wrote about the methodology used in his study, saying that 11 articles were included in the review. He made reference to one that was co-authored by Patrick McGorry, writing, “one small case-control study with evidence of significant bias concluded annual early-intervention costs were one-third of treatment-as-usual costs.”

That is the only one that found positive outcomes. He said there was significant bias in that study. Andrew Amos’s paper concluded “the published literature does not support the contention that early intervention for psychosis reduces costs or achieves cost-effectiveness.”

We have to bear that against Professor McGorry’s claim that EPPIC is supported by “the largest international evidence base of any mental health model of care”.[12] It simply does not stack up.

The problem is that after the 2010 election, there was no independent review process. The mental health minister, Mark Butler, tried in a sense when he set up the Mental Health Expert Working Group, which included a number of mental health practitioners, including Professor McGorry and Ian Hickey, and Monsignor David Cappo, who was the vice-chair. For some unknown reason, those three gentlemen decided to step outside the process and produce their own blueprint for mental health. They termed themselves the Independent Mental Health Reform Group.

Basically, they produced a $3.5 billion, five-year wish list, which was completely devoid of evidence.[13] Mark Butler should have resisted it at that stage but the media pressure was enormous because there is an enormous cheer squad for this group. He should have ordered an independent review of the evidence underlying the claims that were made in that blueprint. Instead, he adopted so much of it, which led to the $2.2 billion announcement and the $222.4 million for EPPIC, being half of the total expenditure when it is supplemented by the states.

Soon after the debate started to change for Professor McGorry. In fact, science started to catch up with some of his claims last year when international debate about the inclusion of Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome (often called Psychosis Risk Syndrome) in DSM5 took place. The basic theory underlying Professor McGorry’s work and the proposed diagnosis of Attenuaed Psychosis Syndrome was that mental illness has a prodromal phase, and in that phase mental illnesses can be predicted, treated and prevented. There was very strong international backlash to that.

As a result of that, we saw a change in the attitude of Professor McGorry to the inclusion of Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome in DSM5. In May 2010 he was quoted in an article in in the Psychiatry Update entitled “DSM5 ‘risk syndrome’: a good start, should go further” as saying “The proposal for DSM5 to include a ‘risk syndrome’ reflecting an increased likelihood of mental illness is welcome but does not go far enough.”[14]

Also, Professor McGorry wrote a piece for Science Digest in 2010, entitled “Schizophrenia Research” in which he stated, “The proposal to consider including the concept of the risk syndrome in the forthcoming revision of the DSM classification is innovative and timely. It has not come out of left field, however, and is based upon a series of conceptual and empirical foundations built over the past 15 years.”[15]

It is a very strong endorsement saying it was based on 15 years of research. That was Professor McGorry, the great enthusiast for its inclusion in DSM5.

Then the heat started to go on. In June 2011, McGorry the great enthusiast, became McGorry the indifferent, when he wrote a blog on my website at my invitation. He wrote, “Personally, I am not concerned whether it (Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome) enters the DSM5 or not.”[16] So he began backing away from it.

Later, when pushed on the issue, McGorry the great enthusiast, who had become McGorry the indifferent, went on to become McGorry the denier, denying his previous position. He was on the ABC World Today program of 12 May 2011. I had said that Professor McGorry was a leading international proponent of Psychosis Risk Syndrome as a new psychiatric disorder for inclusion in the next edition of DSM5. Professor McGorry responded by saying, “contrary to Mr Whitely’s statements, I haven’t been pushing for it to be included in DSM5. Now that hasn’t been my position. But it’s a new area of work. It’s only been studied for the last 15 years.”[17]

So if we take those three positions—the great enthusiast, the indifferent, the denier—and recap, in 2010 he described the proposal to put Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome in the DSM5 as “innovative and timely … has not come out of left field and is based upon a series of conceptual and empirical foundations built over the past 15 years.”

The heat goes on. In 2011 the response becomes, “I haven’t been pushing for it to be included in DSM5. Now that hasn’t been my position.… It’s only been studied for the last 15 years or so, so you know we haven’t got all the answers.”

Frankly, I was aware of the hypocrisy in that statement, but I did not actually make much of it at the time because Professor McGorry and I were engaged in some very productive discourse. I was very encouraged when in February 2012 in the Sydney Morning Herald, in an article entitled “About-turn on treatment of the young”, Professor McGorry acknowledged the widespread international concern, with the inclusion of psychosis risk syndrome in DSM5 and said that he now opposed it.[18] In fact I wrote a blog entitled “Patrick McGorry deserves praise for about-turn on Psychosis Risk Disorder”. I was very encouraged. I was prepared to forgive him the dishonesty and the inconsistency of his position.

It is important to understand why the idea of Psychosis Risk Disorder, Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome, was removed from DSM5. It was removed basically for three reasons, the first being the rate of false positives. It is an accurate diagnosis of between eight per cent In 2012 in the Medical Journal of Australia Professor David Castle a critic of the rollout of EPIC’s stated that the diagnosis was accurate in only 8% of cases. [19] In the same edition of the MJA McGorry’s close colleague Professor Alison Yung identified the conversion rate from UHR to first episode psychosis was 36%.[20] So, the false positive rate it is somewhere between a 64% per cent and a 92%.

The second was the idea that labelling someone as being pre-psychotic could be stigmatising and could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The third concern was the inappropriate use of antipsychotics in people who had never been psychotic and are unlikely to go on and become psychotic.

As I said, when Professor McGorry seemingly abandoned supporting Psychosis Risk Disorder’s inclusion in DSM5, that was the high point of the trust that had developed between Professor McGorry and me. But I have to say that I now distrust him for two very clear reasons.

One is that he has acknowledged that it is a problem when other people do it but not a problem when he diagnoses it. He wrote in 2010 that “both of these concerns are valid”—the concern about extending the use of antipsychotic medication and the concerns about labelling and stigmatising people —”Both of these concerns are valid, though both can and have been addressed in our work and systems of care in Melbourne.”[21]

Basically he is saying; Look, nobody else is good enough to do it, but we are good enough to do it in our Melbourne-based system.

What really turned me around was when I got access to training DVD produced by Patrick McGorry’s Orygen Youth Health, which actually teaches mental health clinicians how to diagnose and treat Psychosis Risk Syndrome otherwise known as Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome.[22] This DVD is still for sale, even though Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome has been removed from DSM5 and even though Professor McGorry said he did not support its inclusion.

I encourage people to go to my blog and look at an excerpt from that DVD. There is a video blog there and members can look at an excerpt from the training DVD and see if it passes the commonsense test. Jon Jureidini, a professor of psychiatry at University of Adelaide, somebody who I have great respect for, looked at the training DVD and said that it is a great training tool, because it “demonstrates how not to carry out a psychiatric interview and interact with young people”—a damning comment. (see Patrick McGorry’s ‘Ultra High Risk of Psychosis’ training DVD fails the common sense test )

The diagnosis of Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome is a very controversial issue, but more controversial than that has been the role of the use antipsychotics in the treatment of people who are not psychotic, who are considered to be at risk of being psychotic. Again, Professor McGorry has spun his own position.

In 2010 in response to my blog, he wrote, “our clinical guidelines do not (and have never done so in the past) recommend the use of anti-psychotic medication as the first line or standard treatment for this Ultra High Risk group.”[23]

It is true in the sense that final endorsed clinical guidelines have never actually recommended it, but Professor McGorry has produced draft guidelines recommending their use and, for well over a decade, Professor McGorry has experimented with and it appears likely he continues to experiment with the pre-emptive prescription of psychotropics to adolescents.

Three examples of his earlier advocacy were that in 2006 in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry he proposed a clinical staging framework for psychosis and identified “atypical antipsychotic agents” as one of the “potential interventions” for individuals who are at “ultra-high risk” of developing first-episode psychosis.[24] In 2007 in an article in the British Medical Journal that he jointly authored he extolled the potential of pre-psychotic use of pharmacological interventions.[25] Again in the British Medical Journal in 2008, in an article entitled “Is early intervention in the major psychiatric disorders justified?” he wrote — “Early intervention … It should be as central in psychiatry as it is in cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease … Several randomised controlled trials have shown that it is possible to delay the onset of fully fledged psychotic illness in young people at very high risk of early transition with either low dose antipsychotic drugs or cognitive behavioural therapy.”[26]

I easily found three instances when he advocated for it, which is in conflict with his December 2010 claim that he has not been an advocate.

After the pressure from the debate on the inclusion of Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome in DSM–5, Professor McGorry began to adjust his position. In December 2010 he wrote that, “Antipsychotic medications should not be considered unless there is a clear-cut and sustained progression to frank psychotic disorder meeting full DSM 4 criteria.”[27] He outlined that the only exception to the previous statement is when there has been a definite failure to respond to the first and second line interventions. That was written in late 2010 in response to some concerns I had raised with him.

In November 2010 in an article in The Weekend West titled “Mental health guru stumbles into public policy minefield”, a spokesman from Orygen Youth Health said on Professor McGorry’s behalf that antipsychotics are not recommended as a standard treatment and “there has been a substantial amount of research and we do change according to the research.”

All of that kept me happy at the time, as I thought Professor McGorry had realised that the research showed that antipsychotics are not a good way to treat people perceived to be at risk of becoming psychotic. The problem is that he continued to do research on this topic.

A 2011 article referred to the NEURAPRO-Q trial that was being conducted by Professor Patrick McGorry. Thirteen international critics lodged an appeal against the trial, saying that it was unethical because of the potential harms of the use of Seroquel, an antipsychotic, in this nonpsychotic group, the very high false positive rate of misdiagnosis, which I have talked about, and a number of other reasons.

The heat was on and in August 2011, Melbourne’s The Age quoted Professor McGorry as saying that the trial had been abandoned because of “feasibility issues recruiting participants”.[28] It seems he never gave up on his treasured theory. He has acknowledged, we have all this evidence that we should not use antipsychotics in this way, yet he continued to do this trial. I contend that if he cannot prove it in 15 years of trialling antipsychotics on people who are not psychotic and are never likely to become psychotic, why would he continue to do it?

That is not the only evidence. There are more reasons to be concerned that Professor McGorry has still not abandoned his favourite theory, which is that we can use psychotropic medication as a preventive measure and a way of immunising young people against future mental illness.

He has 10 million good reasons not to abandon this research—a grant that was provided to Professor McGorry and others. He is the principal investigator for a National Health and Medical Research Council grant for “Emerging mental disorders in young people: using clinical staging for prediction, prevention and early intervention”.[29] They received a $10 million grant from the NHMRC. He said “this money will allow us to continue our research into the causes of mental illness and help the one in four young people suffering a mental disorder.”[30]

This $10 million trial may include the testing of psychotropic drugs as a preventive measure—in other words, as an attempt to immunise people against getting future mental illness.

So, go back to the claim that Professor McGorry used in the lead-up to the 2010 election. He said that the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre has “the largest international evidence base of any mental health model of care”.[31] If that were true, after 15 years of trialling, we would have a mature model and there would not have been these back-downs.

We also need to be concerned about some of the disease mongering that comes out of the mouth of Professor McGorry and his allies. In March 2010 on the ABC’s Lateline program he said, “4 million Australians have mental health problems in any given year… there are 1 million young Australians aged 12 to 25 with a mental disorder in any given year. … And 750,000 of them have no access to mental health care currently.”[32]

I was at an excellent conference in Perth in June, hosted by the Richmond Fellowship of Western Australia. Patrick McGorry cited a New Zealand study, from memory, and claimed that between the ages of 18 and 25 years, 50.1 per cent of people had a psychiatric disorder.[33] This is disease mongering. This is turning normality into disease. People who are ill and need treatment will be denied resources because we spread resources too thin.

It is very upsetting that not only these statements are being made, but also the media is not questioning them. They are letting them go straight through to the keeper as though they are the absolute truth.

Professor McGorry has appropriated the language of early intervention, but in truth he is engaged in preventive psychiatry—preventive being pre-intervening; that is, stepping in and aggressively interfering with people who will probably never go on to be diseased.

In June 2012 in response to an article I wrote in The West Australian, Professor McGorry criticised me for describing him as a proponent of preventive psychiatry, but his own organisation, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, registered EPPIC as a trademark in 2011. Part of its registration program listed Orygen as providing “education and training services”, including in the “field of youth-specific preventive psychiatry”.[34] They registered it in their trademark and then a year later criticised me for describing him as an advocate of preventive psychiatry.

One of his great debating tricks is to describe people such as me and those who work in the field, such as Jon Jureidini and others, as being proponents of “late intervention”.[35] We are not. We are arguing for early intervention. When people become psychotic or become mentally ill, we should get in there and intervene and help them. It is completely disingenuous of Professor McGorry to paint his opponents as being proponents of late intervention.

There are other things of concern. In July 2012 The Sunday Age in Melbourne published an article on a 2007 Orygen Youth Health antidepressant prescribing audit. The article highlighted the concern that antidepressants were being prescribed at Orygen “to a majority of depressed 15 to 25-year-olds before they had received adequate counselling”. It also found that “75 per cent of those diagnosed with depression were given the drugs too early”.[36]

Orygen’s own “Evidence Summary: Using SSRI Antidepressants to Treat Depression in Young People: What are the Issues and What is the Evidence?”, produced in 2009, builds a very compelling case for not using anti-depressants in young people, but then goes on to conclude that we should use them.[37] The only rationale that is offered—all the evidence is ignored—is that it is better to do something than nothing.

Am I alone? It is a relevant question. I am not an expert; I am a politician. I am probably the only politician who has stood and said, “We need to be concerned about this major investment in mental health in Australia.” I may be alone in politics, but I am not isolated within psychiatry. A range of very prominent psychiatrists are very critical of where we are going.

One of the most revealing things was that Psychiatry Update in October 2011 published a survey of psychiatrists in Australia. It revealed, “Almost 60% of psychiatrists think the Federal Government’s focus on EPPIC is inappropriate.”[38]

Others who have had plenty to say include Professor Allen Frances, the chief author of the DSM–IV, the current edition of the bible of psychiatry. He has been a fierce critic of Professor McGorry, although he is very charitable in what he says about McGorry’s intentions. He said “McGorry’s intentions are clearly noble, but so were Don Quixote’s. The kindly knight’s delusional good intentions and misguided interventions wreaked havoc and confusion at every turn.”[39] Professor Frances goes on to warn that Australia is really in danger of following him blindly down “an unknown path that is fraught with dangers”.

Another who has been critical is Professor George Patton, who told The Age that the Orygen antidepressant prescribing audit revealed how much we needed to look at the evidence base of these programs.[40] Clinical Professor David Castle, a very high profile psychiatrist from Melbourne, is also critical.[41] Professor Vaughan Carr from the University of New South Wales wrote an opinion piece that was very dismissive of Professor McGorry’s claims that this was the most cost-effective treatment. He described his claims as “a utopian fantasy” based on “published evidence that is not credible.”[42] [43]

I have run out of time. The message I want to put out there is that we need to go back to the evidence. I have met Patrick McGorry and I like him. He is a very charismatic individual and I think he is well intentioned, but that is not the point. The point is that we cannot have mental health policy driven by rhetoric; it needs to be driven by evidence.


Note: this transcript has contains endnotes and minor corrections not in the official Hansard record.


[1] National Mental Health Reform Statement by Hon. Nicola Roxon Minister, Hon. Jenny Macklin and the Hon. Mark Butler 10 May 2011 http://www.budget.gov.au/2011-12/content/ministerial_statements/health/download/ms_health.pdf

[2] Sue Dunlevy ‘Schism opens over ills of the mind’ The Australian June 16, 2011. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/schism-opens-over-ills-of-the-mind/story-e6frg6z6-1226075910650

[3] The Hon Mark Butler MP Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Media Release 8 December 2011 More Early Psychosis Services for Young Australians. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/B9CCE606D4092CE1CA257960000474FE/$File/MB222.pdf

[4] Mark Butler A bright future for mental health in Australia Ramp Up 8 Jun 2012 http://www.abc.net.au/rampup/articles/2012/06/08/3521451.htm

[5] Western Australian Legislative Assembly Hansard available at http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Hansard/hansard.nsf/0/57de02ae107600d148257a220046f171/$FILE/A38%20S1%2020120531%20p636b-639a.pdf

[6] Insight SBS television 27 July 2010 transcript available at http://news.sbs.com.au/insight/episode/index/id/272#transcript

[7] Address to the National Press Club Canberra by Prof. Patrick McGorry July 7, 2010

[8] Including, Connecting, Contributing: A Blueprint to Transform Mental Health and Social Participation in Australia, March 2011. Prepared by the Independent Mental Health Reform Group: Monsignor David Cappo, Professor Patrick McGorry, Professor Ian Hickie, Sebastian Rosenberg, John Moran, Matthew Hamilton http://sydney.edu.au/bmri/docs/260311-BLUEPRINT.pdf (accessed 26 April 2011)

[9] “There is emerging, but as yet inconclusive evidence, to suggest that people in the prodrome of psychosis can be helped by some interventions. There is some support for specialised early intervention services, but further trials would be desirable, and there is a question of whether gains are maintained. There is some support for phase-specific treatment focused on employment and family therapy, but again, this needs replicating with larger and longer trials.” Marshall M, Rathbone J. Early intervention for psychosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD004718. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004718.pub3 June 15, 2011 http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD004718/early-intervention-for-psychosis

[10] Stark, J. 2011, August 21. Drug trial scrapped amid outcry. The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/national/drug-trial-scrapped-amid-outcry-20110820-1j3vy.html

[11] Andrew Amos Australia New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry – Assessing the cost of early intervention in psychosis: A systematic review 13 June 2012 http://anp.sagepub.com/content/46/8/719

[12] Including, Connecting, Contributing: A Blueprint to Transform Mental Health and Social Participation in Australia, March 2011. Prepared by the Independent Mental Health Reform Group: Monsignor David Cappo, Professor Patrick McGorry, Professor Ian Hickie, Sebastian Rosenberg, John Moran, Matthew Hamilton http://sydney.edu.au/bmri/docs/260311-BLUEPRINT.pdf (accessed 26 April 2011)

[13] Including, Connecting, Contributing: A Blueprint to Transform Mental Health and Social Participation in Australia, March 2011. Prepared by the Independent Mental Health Reform Group: Monsignor David Cappo, Professor Patrick McGorry, Professor Ian Hickie, Sebastian Rosenberg, John Moran, Matthew Hamilton A Blueprint to Transform Mental Health and Social Participation in Australia http://sydney.edu.au/bmri/docs/260311-BLUEPRINT.pdf (accessed 26 April 2011)

[14] Available at http://www.psychiatryupdate.com.au/news/DSM-V-risk-syndrome-a-good-start-should-go-further posted 20 May 2010 accessed 28 May 2011

[15] McGorry, P.D. Risk Syndromes, clinical staging and DSM V; New diagnostic infrastructure for early intervention in psychiatry, Schizophr, Res. (2010), doi;10.1016/j.schres.2010.03.016 http://www.ecnp-congress.eu/~/media/Files/ecnp/communication/talk-of-the-month/mcgorry/McGorry%20RIsk%20Syndrome%202010.pdf

[16] Professor Patrick McGorry June 2011 AUSTRALIA’S MENTAL HEALTH REFORM: AN OVERDUE INVESTMENT IN TIMELY INTERVENTION AND SOCIAL INCLUSION June 2011 available at www.speedupsitstill.com

[17] The World Today – Professor McGorry hits back at critics, 20 May 2011 www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2011/s3222359.htm (accessed 28 May 2011)

[18] Amy Corderoy, About-turn on treatment of the Young,Sydney Morning Herald, February 20, 2012 http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/aboutturn-on-treatment-of-the-young-20120219-1th8a.html

[19] Professor David Castle, Medical Journal of Australia 21 May 2012 Is it appropriate to treat people at high-risk of psychosis before first onset — No Available at https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2012/196/9/it-appropriate-treat-people-high-risk-psychosis-first-onset-no http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/aug04_1/a695 (accessed 3 August 2010)

[20] Professor Alison Yung, Medical Journal of Australia 21 May 2012 Is it appropriate to treat people at high-risk of psychosis before first onset — Yes Available at https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2012/196/9/it-appropriate-treat-people-high-risk-psychosis-first-onset-yes

[21] In response to my blog titled Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry’s call for early intervention to prevent Psychosis: A Stitch in Time or a Step too Far? (available at http://speedupsitstill.com/patrick-mcgorry-early-intervention-psychosis-stitch-time-stitch-up ) Professor McGorry wrote a blog titled Responding at the earliest opportunity to emerging mental illnesses http://www.patmcgorry.com.au/blog/pmcgorry/responding-earliest-opportunity-emerging-mental-illnesses

[22] Orygen Youth Health Centre, 2009, “Comprehensive Assessment of At Risk Mental State (CAARMS) Training DVD”, The PACE Clinic, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne. see http://www.eppic.org.au/risk-mental-state accessed 3 September 2012

[23] Right of Reply – Patrick McGorry on Early Intervention for Psychosis December 11, 2010 refer http://speedupsitstill.com/reply-patrick-mcgorry-early-intervention-psychosis

[24] McGorry, P., Purcell, R., Hickie, I. B., Yung, A. R., Pantelis, C., & Jackson, H.J. (2006) Clinical staging of psychiatric disorders: a heuristic framework for choosing earlier safer and more effective interventions. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40:616-622. Note: A similar article is available online at http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/187_07_011007/mcg10315_fm.html (accessed 26 April 2011)

[25] Yung, A.R. & McGorry, P.(2007) Prediction of psychosis: setting the stage, British Journal of Psychiatry, 191: s1-s8. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/full/191/51/s1 (accessed 7 December 2010)

[26] McGorry P.D. (2008) Is early intervention in the major psychiatric disorders justified? Yes, BMJ, 337:a695 http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/aug04_1/a695 (accessed 3 August 2010)


[27] Right of Reply – Patrick McGorry on Early Intervention for Psychosis December 11, 2010 http://speedupsitstill.com/reply-patrick-mcgorry-early-intervention-psychosis

[28] “Professor McGorry insists the decision to scrap the trial was made in June and is unrelated to the complaint, which he said he was only alerted to just over a week ago. He maintained the trial received ethics approval in July last year but was abandoned due to “feasibility issues” with recruiting participants in European and American sites, which were to form the international arm of the study”.Stark, J. (2011, August 21). Drug trial scrapped amid outcry. The Age. http://www.theage.com.au/national/drug-trial-scrapped-amid-outcry-20110820-1j3vy.html

[29] Refer to http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/grants/research-funding-statistics-and-data/mental-health-0

[30] Professor Patrick McGorry Emerging Mental Disorders in Young People: Using Clinical Staging for Prediction, Prevention and Early Intervention.http://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/musse/?p=417 accessed 27 September 2009

[31] Including, Connecting, Contributing: A Blueprint to Transform Mental Health and Social Participation in Australia, March 2011. Prepared by the Independent Mental Health Reform Group: Monsignor David Cappo, Professor Patrick McGorry, Professor Ian Hickie, Sebastian Rosenberg, John Moran, Matthew Hamilton http://sydney.edu.au/bmri/docs/260311-BLUEPRINT.pdf (accessed 26 April 2011)

[32] ABC (11 March 2010) Mental health system in crisis: McGorry, Lateline, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Reporter: Tony Jones http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s2843609.htm (accessed 26 April 2011)

[33] Professor Patrick McGorry wrote in a blog on 25 May 2011 “A recent New Zealand study has shown between 18 and 24 years that 50 per cent of young people will manifest diagnosable mental disorders, over half the time repeated episodes, which, far from being trivial or “normal”, will significantly affect their social, vocational and economic well-being at age 30.” See http://www.patmcgorry.com.au/blog/pmcgorry/government-has-thrown-black-dog-bone accessed 20 September 2012

[34] Details of the EPPIC trademark is available at http://www.trademarkify.com.au/trademark/1391532?i=EPPIC-ORYGEN_Research_Centre_ACN_ARBN_098_918_686#.T_OeZpEuh8E and the trademark for ‘E EPPIC’ that has been applied for is available at http://www.trademarkify.com.au/trademark/1447441?i=E_EPPIC-ORYGEN_Research_Centre_ACN_Street_MELBOURNE_VIC_3000_AUSTRALIA#.T_OfP5Euh8E

[35] Sweet, M. (17 August 2010) Patrick McGorry defends early intervention on youth mental health, Croakey: the Crikey Health Blog http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2010/08/17/patrick-mcgorry-defends-early-intervention-on-youth-mental-health/ (accessed 26 April 2011)

[36] Jill Stark, The Sunday Age, Youth mental health team too free with drugs: audit July 8, 2012 http://www.theage.com.au/national/youth-mental-health-team-too-free-with-drugs-audit-20120707-21o29.html

[37] In the U.S.A. a Black Box warning was put on in 2005 after an analysis of clinical trials by the FDA found statistically significant increases in the risks of ‘suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior’ by about 80%, and of agitation and hostility by about 130%. Headspace’s evidence summary also acknowledged that ‘no antidepressants (including any SSRIs) are currently approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for the treatment of major depression in children and adolescents aged less than 18 years’. In addition the evidence summary acknowledges that research indicates that in terms of managing the symptoms of depression, ‘the only SSRI with consistent evidence of its effectiveness in young people is fluoxetine (Prozac)….The effectiveness of fluoxetine however is modest…Young people on fluoxetine do not appear to be functioning better in their daily lives at the end of the trials.’ Despite this, it concludes by recommending: ‘In cases of moderate to severe depression, SSRI medication may be considered within the context of comprehensive management of the patient, which includes regular careful monitoring for the emergence of suicidal ideation or behaviour’. Evidence Summary: Using SSRI Antidepressants to Treat Depression in Young People: What are the Issues and What is the Evidence? Headspace, Evidence Summary Writers Dr Sarah Hetrick, Dr Rosemary Purcell, Clinical Consultants Prof Patrick McGorry, Prof Alison Yung, Dr Andrew Chanen Copyright © 2009 Orygen Youth Health Research Centre http://www.headspace.org.au/core/Handlers/MediaHandler.ashx?mediaId=4896

[38] 6 October, 2011 Michael Slezak Psychiatry Update EPPIC disagreement over early intervention: poll http://www.psychiatryupdate.com.au/politics-practice-issues/eppic-disagreement-over-early-intervention–poll

[39] Australia’s Reckless Experiment In Early Intervention – prevention that will do more harm than good by Allen J. Frances, M.D. at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201105/australias-reckless-experiment-in-early-intervention ]

[40] Professor George Patton quoted in the The Age, ”This paper illustrates how much we need to be looking at these new services (EPPIC) to determine the extent to which we’re following best clinical practice and to ask the questions, are we getting value for money out of these investments, and are we actually seeing better clinical outcomes?” Jill Stark, Youth mental health team too free with drugs: audit, The Sunday Age, July 8, 2012 http://www.theage.com.au/national/youth-mental-health-team-too-free-with-drugs-audit-20120707-21o29.html

[41] David Castle (St Vincents Melbourne) Medical Journal of Australia 21 May 2012- Is it appropriate to treat people at high risk of psychosis before first onset? NO

[42] Carr, Vaughan. (2010, July 10). Letter to the Editor, Mental health funding. The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/mental-health-funding/story-fn558imw-1225890005936

[43] Carr V. (8 July 2010) Mentally ill of all ages need services. The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/mentally-ill-of-all-ages-need-services/story-e6frg6zo-1225889141003 (accessed 30 April 2011)



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  1. Mack’s avatar

    The tide is turning, but there is still a long way to go. People need to understadn what it means to be ‘psychotic’. It doe snot mean a peson has a chemical imbalance in the brain. or at least science has not shown that.


  2. Dr Joe’s avatar

    It is way too easy to “label” people as having a mental illness. It is also profitable. Sadly it also suits the purposes of those who prefer not to take responsibility for their actions.


  3. Schalk’s avatar

    Martin, it is with interest and appreciation that I note your efforts to stop a freight train. I appreciate the fact that it takes tactics rather than brawn to achieve this. However, there has to be clear lines where the fundamentals differ, and here I see a vacuum.
    Psychiatry (the definitive authority on mental health) resembles some sort of craft between sorcery and witchcraft hailing from the Dark Ages. (At least modern Bio-Psychiatry, to be fair to those psychiatrists who still honour traditional psychiatry by “talking” things better, as the origin of the word implies)
    Psychiatry differs from Neurology whereby Neurology treats PATHOLOGY of the nervous system, often by surgery and prescription drugs or other invasive therapies. Disease like Alzheimer’s etc. are well defined and DEMONSTRABLE pathology, patient to patient and repeatable. Neurology adheres to the well known and publicised protocols of Scientific (medical) diagnoses of disease and demonstrability of pathology as well as protocols of treatment. (Including, most notably, INFORMED consent)
    Psychiatry, on the other hand has no foundation in medical (Scientific) pathology. It treats conditions of the mind, or rather, emotional responses by the patient to specific situations. However, for decades and decades it has been the quest of Bio-Psychiatry (ESPECIALLY the Gurus you refer to) to INVENT a pathological origin (like the “Chemical Imbalance” lie) to provide “scientific proof” for their claims of “Mental Disease” as if these “diseases” are legitimate pathological disease, not just REQUIRING chemical treatment, but that it is actually LEGAL to prescribe treatment! (You see, without the pathological claim to disease chemical “treatment” legally becomes POISONING, a criminal act in most countries, and….punishable by law. Even the Hippocratic oath forbids “treatment” without proper diagnosis and consent)
    So, what’s the story? Or rather, what to do with all these people that suffer from all these “Metal” afflictions that clearly, “exists” in society around us?
    1. STOP lying to them! EVERY human emotion is NOT a disease! Help them with REAL psychiatrists, and friends and family, to DEVELOP COPING MECHANISMS and SUPPORT STRUCTURES to actually DEAL with their problems, instead of drowning it in drugs! (Strange how we scoff and despise the “Drunks and Bums” and other “social misfits” who drown their sorrows in booze, but when they do so with PRESCRIBED Amphetamine (Speed) we APPLAUD them??? We even ENCOURAGE AND PAY FOR IT!!!!!)
    2. Bring back REAL psychiatry. Help people to DEAL with their emotions, and grief, and anger.
    3. STOP the culture of “doctoring” EVERYTHING, from headache to heartache! Our children are growing up with, what they perceive as fact: There is a PILL for EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! We teach and indoctrinate them that a human being is basically a walking disease bag, needing “medication” for every conceivable “deficiency” imaginable? Are we then surprised that they look towards illicit drugs to “HELP” them to study, have confidence, not lose their temper, give them stamina to perform, help them lose their inhibitions so they can be “socially acceptable”?
    NOTHING ON THIS PLANET IS GOOD ANYMORE. BIO-PSYCHIATRISTS, amongst others, HAVE TO INTERVENE AND SHOW US THE WAY! (We mere mortals not of “psychiatry” are too stupid and of inferior intellect to exist without the “KIND and HELPING” profession of particularly Bio-Psychiatry? Them of a different planet of VASTLY superior intellect and human development, of course!)
    4. We spend BILLIONS to convince people they are sick and need treatment, but we spend very little to educate people the virtue of a healthy body and a healthy mind. We scoff and ignore the body’s immune system, and we treat the psyche and the mind as something which it’s owner is USELESS and INCAPABLE to understand and cope with, let alone master! We vilify emotions like sadness, grief, anger and fear, as if these emotions and “states of mind” are to be FEARED, rather than TREASURED as the essence of our existence! It’s not just OK to have these emotions, it’s one of our greatest blessings! (Like pathological disease can improve our immune system, so does emotional stress have the capacity to make our CHARACTERS stronger. It needs to be nurtured instead of inhibited. Just WHY does modern society endeavour to INHIBIT both these developments? In WHO’s interests are these developments? Shall we follow the money????)
    5. Lastly. Teach people and encourage them to GET REAL. People themselves should be encouraged to take MORE OWNERSHIP of their own health (metal and physical) than to ask a “professional” to assist them to declare them sick, for whatever reason they choose to have this label, for the truth is that doctors and psychiatrists out there are also just providing and responding to consumer needs. Although the pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest to exploit this (and they do so ruthlessly, with a little help from their friends in Politics and the Health Industry!) it is people themselves that demand their “treatment”. This elephant in the room can no longer be ignored.
    When you do battle with Bio-Psychiatry, you need to understand and clearly define that their purpose is NO DIFFERENT than those “dealers” peddling their dope on street corners: TO MAKE YOU, THE CONSUMER, A CUSTOMER. It’s ALL about the money!
    I dare and DEFY the entire Psychiatric Industry, and especially those “gurus” who compiled the DSM, to provide the scientific proof (As required in pathology) for all of the mental “diseases” listed in the DSM. I further put it bluntly in their faces: They are LYING to the reader and the general public when they claim their DSM mental “diseases” are pathological disease, and they do so INTENTIONALLY to dupe the victim to subscribe to their “treatment”. Treatment meaning to become a “responsible drug addict” for the rest of their lives. Bingo, another customer!
    In closing, and as I pointed out at the onset: there has to be a clear message outlining the FUNDAMENTAL difference between the yays and the nays. The clear and absolute difference between Bio-Psychiatry and Science (REAL medicine) is the DIAGNOSIS and DEFINITION of disease. NEVER, not in a million years, can SCIENCE accept nor prove that Psychiatric definition of disease has ANY scientific foundation. Therefore it can NEVER be treated as Pathological disease and therefore:
    The debate cannot digress to allow psychiatry to present evidence or motions from a “Scientifically proven” premise until such proof is presented, on a point of order.


    1. Cole’s avatar

      Schalk, yours is a perfect summary of what is wrong with modern mental health care and government support for it. Ever since psychology/psychiatry was spun-off as a separate field of study and detached from it’s previous integrative approaches within philosophy/religioun/physical sciences and other disciplines, where it was always known that peace between body, mind AND soul must be achieved before one is happy, has the profession strived so hard to achieve the unattainable goal of proving to itself that they are a real science, based on measurable observations. They have tried to claim mental health as their “own” discipline, rather than look at the whole human and why conflict in the mind really occurs. They are always disproving one theory over another, next week there will be even more, CBT, positive thinking, whats next, just check the Journals of Psychiatry and Psychology to see those wanting to be recognised as trailblazers of their field.

      When in fact they have no scientific foundation, no globally accepted framework to call a science, no theorems to try to disprove such as real sciences, instead they propose arbitrary disease conditions each week, conduct rigorous statistical analysis on willing subjects and try to prove their conditions exist – wow, I’ve just invented a new disorder.

      Does this sound like science or witchcraft to you? I could do the same thing and prove that santa clause exists. Surviving and experiencing all the normal human emotions is what builds resiliency, not switching to CBT mode when you are anxious or stressed. We are unique as humans and I fear this uniqueness is being stripped by modern mental health care and it’s aim of treating everyone with the same magic wand.


    2. pete82’s avatar

      Martin, I was always taught when you —- up, cop it on the chin, and move on. Why is it that someone with the prestige of Patrick McGorry cant do the same. You have clearly caught him in a lie that he is unwilling to admit. And that seriously scares me considering, someone like him has the influence, with his mates, huewe, dowe and luwi or whoever it may be to form review groups like the Independent Mental Health Reform Group. How can these people come up with programs like the EPPIC, get millions off government and hold the responsibility of running and implementing them? When they constantly flip flop in their diagnosis and treatment methods. Mental health is a huge issue and I am glad you are questioning how the government deals with it. Keep up the good work Martin.


    3. Dr Ben Mullings’s avatar

      Well said Martin,

      I appreciate your hard work in bringing this issue to the attention of your colleagues in Parliament. For anyone reading this, Martin is also not alone amongst psychologists either in his stance about this matter. I know that there are thousands of my colleagues out there who are concerned about the reliance on charismatic public figures who fill the media with their own message about mental health care, which seems to be usually driven by personal opinions and interests rather than the scientific evidence. The public wants evidence-based mental health care in Australia, which is something that the overwhelming majority of mental health professionals try to adhere to.

      I really do hope that your colleagues who represent us all in the political world hear you and take this issue seriously. We need to move beyond this dependence on a few spokespeople who claim to represent the field and start considering other views, particularly the perspectives of people who rely on mental health care services. The way I see it, this ‘guru’ problem you refer to reflects a broader societal issue where many people out there just don’t want to face their problems. In the silence that follows, we end up with a just a few people claiming to speak for everyone else, and that’s not good enough.


    4. Wokeup’s avatar

      Hi Martin – what are your qualifications – excuse my ignorance. Have any of you actually met and spent some time with Patrick McGorry? He is not a guru and has never proclaimed to be. What have you guys done on the national or global arena that has made a real difference. At least he has tried and put himself on the line for it. Much of the posts I read above are shallow and have shades of using another to hike up your own profiles. Be genuine and you will find a genuine man; be narky and the same you shall find. Self fullfilling prophecies are easy to fulfill.

      To me those people who find an issue with Mr McGorry’s stances are from another arena. Put your educated beliefs on the line first up for criticism and lets see what happens! Personally I love the idea of early intervention. If I as a sexually abused child from 3 to 13 had of had people I could turn to I could have been on medication earlier than I was. At 50, I have been on meds for 15 years and I wish I had of had them 15 years earlier, if not even earlier. After many suicide attempts even though I did not want to die I am amazed I managed to survive as long as I did without decent help. I ended up in the religious cycle of repentance and personal responsibility without any psychological understanding. Those who believe what goes around comes around have the wrong end of the stick – what did people like me do to deserve the abuse, the stigma and the recurrent abuse by society when I could not cope or acted differently due to extreme trauma and the triggers in society that re abuse the abused, the sensitive over and over. I have almost finished my psychology degree and will use my education to push the judgemental and jealous out of the system to stand alone and get some first hand experience at vulnerability and how much Mr McGorry has done for the young ones that come after me on a time line. Thank goodness we have more people like Mr McGorry and less people like Martin.


    5. Cole’s avatar

      The scare mongering and funding from government and NHMRC goes hand-in-hand with this socialist government agenda of branwashing the public, starting young at school age. So called preventative programs are now funded at all schools so children who are otherwise healthy and have normal emotions, without the consent of their parents, undergo preventative CBT therapy. These programs are at almost all schools and funded by our great leaders, teaching children as young as 8 or 9 to self-treat themselves when they identify anxiety, stress and other normal emotions. As far as I know, preventative CBT is still mental health treatment, albeit preventative, so where is the informed consent from parents? These government approved CBT programs are disguised with friendly, innocent names such as “Friends for Life” and other similar names. What they are not identified as are mental health programs. Shame on the Australian government.


      1. martin’s avatar

        I presume by Socialist you mean Labor. I was a Labor member of parliament for 12 years and can assure you there is no such agenda. Rather politicians of all persuasions are ignorant of the detail and are attracted by the hype and misinformation presented by charismatic mental health gurus.


      2. Cole’s avatar

        Thank you Martin for your response and advocacy on this issue, you are a beacon of hope amongst ignorant, misinformed and some downright dangerous and calculating people. Although many of us don’t pretend to be qualified in the social science of psychology (if you can call psychology a real science), we do have common sense, other knowledge and life experience, and as participants in our society we expect to have a say. It seems some voices are just too loud and those voices are sponsored by large multinationals. Parents and family are fed propaganda (what you say is from political ignorance) but I say is from an organised and well funded agenda of those privileged to control the masses. If you haven’t seen this in your 12 years as a parlimentarian then I don’t know where you would see it within society. You are a privileged few who knows how the system of “government programs” really works. Lets not beat around the bush, we have to put part of the blame on our politicians, not just for the ignorance, but also their own acceptance of their ignorance as an excuse for failing society.


      3. Cole’s avatar

        Just to show the invasiveness of government mental health programs (sponsored by the Commonwealth Department of Health) into our lives, here is yet another intiative for training our teachers and youth workers in how to provide (unqualified) diagnosis and mental health care to all those people under their care – the ReachOut program. http://au.reachout.com/

        Not its a supposedly whopping 25% of the population, but before we know it 50% of the population in Australia will be considered suffering some type of DSM specified mental health disorder and hardly anyone will be normal, many of us will be on psych drugs. The objective of such programs is obvious to those with a knowledge of history and what better government to implement such a program than the current one.

        Do politicians, psychologists, psychiatrist or allied professions have the balls to come out and question this dangerous progression of government controlled mental health treatment within Australia? If taxpayers provide the funding and the DOH provide the programs, I suppose the profession is happy some business is thrown their way and don’t stop to question it’s legitimacy and basis.



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