Speak Out Against Psychiatry (SOAP) are a group of former patients, carers, mental health professionals and concerned citizens who are campaigning for humane treatment for people experiencing mental distress. SOAP are opposed to forced treatment, electro-shock therapy and the psychiatric drugging of children. SOAP also promote humane alternative ways of helping people in distress.
SOAP are organizing a demonstration to coincide with a forthcoming Institute of Psychiatry conference on the DSM-5 (the latest of edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” a book published by the American Psychiatric Association which is widely used throughout the world to classify mental disorders). The protest will be on Tuesday 4th June from 4.30pm till early evening at the Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF.
SOAP are organizing the protest as they feel that the DSM-5 makes it easier for normal human experiences to be labeled as mental illness. For example people experiencing grief can be more easily given the label “Major Depressive Disorder”, and children with temper tantrums can now be diagnosed as having “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder”.
A spokesperson for SOAP says “The DSM encourages a tick-box approach to understanding human distress which serves the interests of professionals and drug companies rather than the people who really need help. With the DSM-5 things have been taken a step further: even mainstream organizations such as the National Institute for Mental Health and the British Psychological Society are distancing themselves from the DSM-5, claiming it is unscientific. ”
SOAP feels the DSM-5 will increase the number of people stigmatized by a mental health diagnosis, increase prescriptions of mind-altering drugs, and further what they see as a worrying trend of everyday human problems being put in the hands of highly paid experts and pharmaceutical companies rather than our families and communities.
SOAP also objects to the DSM approach in general, where new disorders are created by committees without any objective biological evidence. SOAP highlights the fact that in earlier versions of the DSM, homosexuality was classed as a disorder but this has since been removed as it is no longer socially acceptable. SOAP feel that, while mental disorders are frequently being changed by the professionals, patients are still forced to accept them.
A SOAP advocate says, “In the UK mental health system, if a patient rejects the psychiatric label, they are described as ‘lacking insight into their condition’ and the Mental Health Act is used to force them to take medication. How can a person be expected to agree to a label when they are changing every time the latest guide book comes out?”
The protest will give people the chance to voice their concerns about the DSM-5, and allow survivors of the psychiatric system to speak out about their experiences of labeling and forced treatment. SOAP will also be holding a memorial service for a former member who tragically took her own life following decades of forced medical treatment.
SOAP invites anybody who is concerned about the DSM-5, or other aspects of the mental health system, to come along on Tuesday 4th June – from 4.30pm till the early evening, at the Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF.