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Discussion Needed on Controversial Mental Health Treatments

Changing Minds reveals confusion and lack of knowledge are rife when it comes to some of the current treatments for mental health issues.

The Changing Minds Film Festival, held late last year, concluded with a panel discussion about current issues within social change movements in relation to film-making, particularly in the mental health sector. The discussion inevitably touched on some controversial topics, including electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), seclusion, and informed consent.

A video of the panel discussion, released earlier today, demonstrates some of the polarised views that have emerged in the use of such treatments. One audience member stated: “I wish to know about the practice of electric shock treatment. Is that still permitted? I think that it shouldn’t be, and what is being done about it?” A discussion on the pros and cons of this particular “treatment” and the paradigm in which it exists continued from here.

‘Mental Notes’ a film by Jim Marbrook released last year, alerted many to the human rights atrocities of past psychiatric interventions in New Zealand’s history. One panel member in the video relays her experience of watching the film: “…what was so devastating about Jim’s film was listening to stories of people being restrained and then punished for trying to voice what they were feeling."

Changing Minds advocate for a movement beyond the current technical paradigm to explain “mental illness” to examine social, environmental, physical, and other causal effects on mental health-related problems. This relates also to the types of treatments available to people. There is a push from many mental health service-users toward a stronger focus on social support and care opportunities for those experiencing mental health issues, rather than purely pharmacological interventions.

Changing Minds hopes to hold opportunities for public discussion on some of the issues raised in the video later this year.

The panel discussion videos can be viewed here.


Changing Minds is an Auckland-based not-for-profit organisation that recognises and values the diversity of human experience and strives to work innovatively to encourage positive social change, particularly in the areas of mental health and addictions.


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