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Protesters plan to 'occupy' APA convention

May 2, 2012
by News release
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On May 5, as psychiatrists congregate for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meeting, protesters are planning to converge in a global campaign to oppose the APA's proposed new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), scheduled for publication in 2013.

Occupy the APA will include speakers and a march at approximately to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the group will protest while the APA meets inside.

"This peaceful protest exposes the fact that the DSM-5 pushes the mental health industry to medicalize problems that aren't medical, inevitably leading to over-prescription of psychiatric drugs—including for people experiencing natural human emotions, such as grief and shyness," said David Oaks, founder of MindFreedom International (MFI), an independent voice of survivors of psychiatric human rights violations. "We call for better ways to help individuals in extreme emotional distress."

Others criticizing the revised manual include Kyle Arnold, PhD, of the Coalition for DSM-5 Reform, which has gathered over 13,000 signatures from mental health professionals calling for "an alternative approach." "The DSM-5 will recklessly assign psychiatric labels to many people who should not have them, which will lead to further over-prescription of dangerous drugs and more infringement on individual freedoms," he said.

Jim Gottstein, Esq., founder of the Alaska-based Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights), will cross the country to speak. "The public mental health system is creating a huge class of chronic mental patients through forcing them to take ineffective yet extremely harmful drugs. As the APA gets ready to do even more harm with its proposed expansion of what constitutes mental illness, I want to be there in person to participate in the protest."

Other speakers include Joseph Rogers, executive director of the Philadelphia-based National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse and a longtime consumer/survivor movement leader.

"We will promote humane alternatives to the traditional mental health system, such as peer support, which evidence proves is effective in helping individuals recover from severe emotional distress," Oaks said. "Our protest is about choice. Everyone is welcome."