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Mental Health System Creates Welfare Dependence and Suicide

25 August 2011

Mental Health System Creates Welfare Dependence and Suicide

Suicide Prevention group CASPER is highlighting the contribution the mental health system makes to illness, disability, welfare dependence and suicide in the lead up to World Suicide Prevention Day.

Figures from the Working Group on Welfare Reform show that in 2009, 41% of those on sickness benefits and 29% of those on invalid benefits had a psychiatric or psychological illness listed as their primary condition.

CASPER is funding American researcher and Pulitzer Prize finalist Robert Whitaker to present the evidence that mental health treatment is making us sicker as a society and contributing to high levels of welfare dependence.

Whitaker’s research has looked at how the increase in mental health services has resulted in an increase in illness, disability and welfare dependence in America and has reviewed New Zealand data showing the same pattern.

Speaking at the same event, Professor David Healy from the University of Wales will present the evidence that antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs cause suicide and violence. Pharmac figures for 2010 show 1.3 million antidepressants were prescribe to 485,000 New Zealanders between 2009 and 2010. They record an increase in prescribing to babies and children aged 0-4 of 143%.

Those wishing to hear Whitaker and Healy speak can find details of the events on the CASPER website at


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