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More problems for Beyond Blue - "Gillard's dangerous mind game" in The Australian today

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More unnecessary bad press for Beyond Blue because of Gillard.

Dr Oriel's well researched article highlights the gulf between the way professional entities conduct themselves - and Gillard.

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Mental health is being weaponised for political ends. The starkest case is the use of psychology to smear the US President and frame him as unfit for office. Some of the left media are advocating for mental-health professionals who are accused of using their professional status to attack the presidency.

The politicisation of psychiatry is a feature of totalitarian states. It has no place in a liberal democratic society.

Beyondblue head Julia Gillard.
Beyondblue head Julia Gillard.

Former PM and new Beyondblue head Julia Gillard proposed last week that some US commentators had charged Trump mentally ill out of genuine concern for him. It seems improbable, given the news outlets leading the charge have a track record of political bias against the President. Speaking to the ABC, Gillard said that as she hadn’t met him and wasn’t a mental health professional, she couldn’t offer an analysis, but “if President Trump continues with some of the tweeting, etcetera, that we have seen, that this will be in the dialogue”.

There is no reason for mental health to enter media dialogue on the performance of politicians. In the ABC documentary Killing Season, Gillard questioned the mental health of former PM Kevin Rudd. She said: “I was seriously worried about (Rudd’s) psychological state. I thought he wasn’t coping.

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”The American Psychiatric Association later published a new section of its Principles of Medical Ethics to guide mental health and media professionals: “On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention … a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorisation for such a statement.”

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Any use of mental health for political purposes is deleterious to liberal democracy. It also is a feature of totalitarian states. During the 1970s, psychiatrists criticised the politicisation of mental health in communist states. Sidney Bloch wrote of the systematic misuse of psychiatry for political ends in the Soviet Union. Dissidents against communist regimes in Russia and China were often classified as ­insane and sent to psychiatric hospitals. Bloch criticised the inculcation of communist ideology in the physicians during medical education and how it compromised the objectivity required for effective medical diagnosis and treatment.

The politicisation of mental health should be avoided. It diminishes the integrity of democracy by appeal to unelected experts often shielded from public scrutiny about their possible political bias.

It also creates a barrier between mental health professionals and people of politically incorrect persuasion who, like people from across the political spectrum, might one day need their help.

ENDS

More distress for the staff at Beyond Blue.  More discredit.  More Gillard.

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