Citizens Committee on Human Rights

The Mental Health Watchdog

Australian National Office

Psychiatric Drugs Harm Minds & Potential

A glass of water and pills in a hand.While the Mind and its Potential Conference being held in Sydney is discussing the “extraordinary capacity of the brain to change and develop,” tens of thousands of children are being drugged with brain-damaging drugs. What is being done to prevent the harm to their potential?

This week it was revealed that NSW is Australia’s psychostimulant drug capital, with the highest number of children on prescribed drugs such as Ritalin and dexamphetamine. Of the 57,419 Australian children on these drugs, more than a third is from NSW. Yet, the drugs can cause hallucinations, psychosis, heart irregularities and heart attacks. Suicidal behaviour is a very real risk during withdrawal. The drugs also do not improve educational performance as some psychiatrists have falsely touted to parents and kids.

There is national concern about the increasing numbers of children and toddlers also being prescribed psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs, especially antipsychotics and antidepressants that can put them at risk of blood disorders, blood-sugar abnormalities, suicidal behaviour, cardiac arrest, confusion, diabetes, liver failure, muscle twitching, pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas), restlessness or pacing, seizures, convulsions, and Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome: a potentially fatal toxic reaction where patients break into fevers and become confused, agitated and extremely rigid.

There are many very well meaning and concerned people speaking at the above conference who have children’s best interests at heart. However, there are also psychiatrists and pharmaceutical-industry support groups that have advocated increased use of such drugs in children, rather than allowing the resilience of their young minds to resolve problems in their life.

Australia is also home to psychiatrists pushing an even greater threat to children: claiming to be able to predict the potential onset of psychosis, and subjecting children to antipsychotic drugs without their ever having the “mental disorder.” Psychiatrist Patrick McGorry calls it “Psychosis Risk Syndrome” (PRS) and this year it has received international condemnation from psychiatric peers-yet ignored by the Australian psychiatrists that have also received funding from drug companies that manufacture the antipsychotics used to “treat” PRS.

Allen Frances, professor of psychiatry and taskforce chair of the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM), called Psychosis Risk Syndrome “ill conceived and potentially harmful.” Further, “1) it would misidentify many teenagers who are not really at risk for psychosis; 2) the treatment they would most often receive (atypical [new] antipsychotic medication) has no proven efficacy; but, 3) it does have definite dangerous complications.”

“Drug company marketing,” he added, “would influence parents and clinicians to be especially alert to any strangeness in teenagers.” False positives could be as high as 70-90 percent: that means 70-90 out of every 100 youths could be wrongly labelled with PRS. 1

  • A leading mental health research group said the practice of drugging someone when they don’t have a disorder is akin to “performing mastectomies on women who are at risk of-but do not have-breast cancer.” 2
  • Right now, conference speaker, psychiatrist Ian Hickie and others, are conducting a $10 million experiment, “Emerging Disorders in Young People Using Clinical Staging for Prediction, Prevention and Early Intervention” which could include PRS. If recommended and implemented as an early intervention tool, this could lead to thousands more children being placed on dangerous antipsychotics. Professor Hickie is the executive director of the NSW Brain and Mind Research Institute and has received funding from at least five major pharmaceutical companies that manufacture psychiatric drugs. 3

PARENTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW THE FACTS:

While our children may be suffering from real problems in life, and need the best care and advice, few are aware that unlike for medical conditions, psychiatrists frequently do not inform them that there are no blood or urine test, brain scan (MRI, PET scan) or any physical or genetic test to scientifically confirm the existence of the mental disorders children are labelled with. Mental problems, while very real, are not physical diseases.

REMOVE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AFFILIATED WITH THE CONFERENCE

Conferences that explore the resilience of the mind should not include speakers and endorsers that are funded by drug companies that produce drugs that cloud the mind and harm the brain. Yet several key speakers are funded by and/or are consultants for or are on the speakers bureau of drug companies that have been civilly and criminally fined over their failure to warn consumers about the real risks of psychotropic drugs-including life-threatening diabetes, suicide, deadly withdrawal affects and horrific birth defects. Others involved in the conference have drug companies as their clients, while a lot of the listed mental health groups have a financial conflict of interest with the pharmaceutical industry.

Get The Facts

We want parents and youths to get the facts to be informed of all available medical and educational solutions that do not rely upon heavy, mind-altering drugs. We provide free award-winning documentaries, Making a Killing and Marketing of Madness that address information that is not easily-if at all-proffered by psychiatrists prescribing psychotropic drugs or the companies that make them.


  1. Allen Frances, M.D., “DSM5 ‘Psychosis Risk Syndrome’ – Far Too Risky,” Psychology Today, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dsm5-in-distress/201003/dsm5-psychosis-risk-syndrome-far-too-risky
  2. Alliance for Human Research Protection, “Yale-Lilly Experiment: Adolescents Rx Toxic Drug for Presumed Mental Illness They Do Not Have,” 3 May 2006. http://www.ministryoflies.com/pdf-articles/Yale-Lilly.pdf.
  3. Prof. Gordon Parker and Ian Hickie ,”Is Depression Over Diagnosed? Yes,” BMJ, 18 Nov. 2007.