By Amy Biancolli

Peace, joy, healing. You can see it, plain and powerful, in the faces of those who make music on the path to recovery. You can hear it as they speak of music’s role in their journeys out of psychiatric darkness and into the light of reclaimed lives.

Just watch and listen to those who harmonize through Sing Your Heart Out, an English program that’s open to anyone with any story — some with psychiatric diagnoses, some without, no questions asked either way. …

By Amy Biancolli

Music, essential on the path to well-being, has been a part of human existence since bipeds first flexed their larynxes into song. Long before the advent of complex cultures, our most distant ancestors made sounds akin to song — sounds that varied in pitch and functioned as proto-language, expressing emotion, soothing babies, and forming bonds.

And, almost beyond question, making them feel better.

Those sounds evolved into music. That music shaped social bonds and community, from the Ice Age to today: Bone and ivory flutes, found in the caves of Germany, have been carbon-dated at 35,000 to…

By Amy Biancolli

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
’Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

The words are Bob Marley’s, the music a lilting reggae. The voice belongs to James O’Flynn, child of Ireland, as he sings them with the Claddagh Rogues.

Watch as he struts his stuff with power and joy in a clip from “An Open Door,” a documentary short about a well-being-centered community space in Skibbereen, Ireland. Listen as he mouths the words that matter to him. …

By Rob Wipond

Public support for the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is soaring. In 2017, the rapper Logic released a Grammy-nominated song titled with the Lifeline’s 800-number that peaked at №3 on Billboard. Since then, call volumes have increased more than 25% as bloggers, vloggers, health zines, and news media from BuzzFeed to USA Today have run promotional stories. COVID-19 pushes volumes higher. Recently the federal government passed legislation mandating that, by 2022, all calls to “988” will be routed to the Lifeline-and some telecommunications companies have already begun implementation.

Driving much of this is growing awareness that calling…

65 Years of Drug-Induced Brain Damage That Rolls On and On

By Robert Whitaker

On November 15, Mad in America published a report on the marketing of two new drugs for tardive dyskinesia (TD), Ingrezza and Austedo, which cost up to $7000 per month and are being touted as “breakthrough medications.” The report provided an in-depth look at the financial influences present in their development and marketing, and told of how these expensive new medications are really “me-too” compounds, with little benefit over an existing generic used to treat TD symptoms.

Given that TD is a disorder caused by antipsychotics, there is an obvious outrageous element to this story: the pharmaceutical…

By Joshua Kendall

In April of 2017, the FDA approved valbenazine (Ingrezza) as a treatment for tardive dyskinesia (TD), a neurological disorder featuring Parkinsonian-like involuntary movements, which is found in many people who have taken antipsychotic medications for a prolonged period. From the perspective of the FDA, which in 2014 had designated valbenazine as a “breakthrough therapy”-a designation that speeds up the approval process-the launch of Ingrezza marked a major milestone. “Tardive dyskinesia,” stated Mitchell Mathis, M.D., director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, “can be disabling and can further stigmatize…

By Rob Wipond

Citizen-driven efforts to make communities more “resilient” or “adaptive to stress and crises” can be inspired by many challenges, from small-town sawmill shutdowns to COVID-19. However, climate change has been fueling a dramatic rise in community resilience-building. Ordinary people collaborate to both reduce energy consumption and prepare for emergencies by making their buildings, blocks, neighborhoods, or communities more socially connected and mutually supportive, economically self-reliant and equitable, and ecologically sustainable.

Part activism and part pragmatism, piloting what’s needed at larger scales to tackle climate change, projects include community gardens, reskilling, sharing of tools, space, and equipment, Transition…

By Robert Whitaker

Twelve years ago, Ronald Kavanagh-who at that time was a reviewer of psychiatric drugs for the FDA-turned into a whistleblower, telling the Office of the Inspector General that his superiors at the FDA were turning a blind eye to the risks of a new atypical antipsychotic, asenapine, and doing so in collusion with Schering-Plough, the company that was seeking to market the drug. …

The Galvin family is the quintessential example of “genetic” schizophrenia. But their history of sexual abuse, violence, and trauma provides a clearer and simpler explanation.

By Patrick D. Hahn

Once upon a time there was a family with twelve children — ten sons, followed by two daughters. Six of the sons went on to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

One tried to murder his wife by forcing her to inhale cyanide fumes. One shot his girlfriend dead, then turned the gun on himself and ended his own life. One molested his younger brother and sisters. …

By Caroline Colwill

The mental health professionals who make it as experts in mental health in mainstream media typically seem like kind, empathic, wise, insightful, good people. The kind of people who seem as though they might be able to really help you, and offer good life guidance. They sometimes encourage people to get “help” when they are experiencing difficulties in life. This, in my experience, is deceptive advertising. It’s the kind of promotion that can easily lure an unsuspecting public into an industry that has actually done and continues to do a lot of harm to some people. What…

Mad In America

Mad in America’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care in the United States and around the world.

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