Distortions of the mind

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From Ms Judi Clements

Sir: Sane's accusations (letter, 13 June) concerning Mind's fund-raising letter are a complete distortion. Mind did not "aim to frighten vulnerable people". Our letter was a general mailing to existing Mind supporters. Mind's position on psychiatric drugs has always been perfectly clear. We are campaigning for safe prescribing of psychiatric drugs, not for their abolition.

We believe that drugs do have a place in the treatment of "mental illness" but that the dangers should be explained to anyone being prescribed neuroleptic medication. There are real issues of public safety over prescribing of strong psychiatric drugs, dangerous combinations, and dangerous side effects, which need to be the subject of public debate.

In this country an estimate of at least one death a week is linked to psychiatric drugs. This is a figure publicly stated on several occasions by a leading professor at the Institute of Psychiatry. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has also publicly recognised the problem. The figure is not, as yesterday's letter (13 June) suggests, an unfounded claim made by Mind.

If there were 50 "victims" in any other sector of the health field, there would be a public outcry with demands for public inquiries and urgent investigations.

As the leading mental health charity, Mind cannot ignore these problems. We have just launched a new scheme to monitor the adverse side effects of psychiatric drugs. We intend to continue investigating the safety of these drugs in order to find safe and effective treatment for everyone who suffers mental health problems.

We can only express our surprise that Sane does not share our concerns over the safety of psychiatric drugs.

Yours faithfully,

JUDI CLEMENTS

National Director

Mind

London, E15

14 June

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