Standard practice of dispensing psychotropics contribute to mental health problems

Bambi Francisco Roizen · September 24, 2019 · Short URL:

Survey respondents want to move toward a new practice

Mental health is a big problem around the world. As an area of interest we've focused on for the last several years, we've come to learn that there are many factors contributing to this problem, one of which is a broadening definition of "depression" that widens the number of patients who can use psychotropics. 

At our Invent Health Future of Mental and Behavioral Health conference, we surveyed our audience of scientists, physicians, payers and providers, investors and startups to understand their view on the practice of prescribing antidepressants. We found overwhelming consistency in their view.

Some of the questions we asked stemmed from a panel discussion, including one in which panelist Alex Morgan, investor at Khosla Ventures, stated that "pharmacy companies" are prescribing "dangerous medications" as though they were giving them out like "candy." We wrote about that panel here: Giving out dangerous medications like candy aggravates the mental health crisis. 

So we asked our audience: "What do you think of the standard practice of dispensing psychotropics for a mental health problem?" 

We did not base this question just on Alex's perspective. There have been numerous studies questioning the treatment, including this one from nearly a decade ago: "Anti-depressant use climbs as primary care doctors do the prescribing", it says, "almost three-quarters of the prescriptions are written without a specific diagnosis."

What we found in our survey is that 72 percent of respondents said that dispensing psychotropics is a big part of the mental health problem.

Here are some of their supporting remarks to their answers.  

“Meds present a ‘quick fix’ that is ‘scientifically supported’ and coupling this with advertising targeted to consumers with this messaging it creates an incentive for both patients and providers to use it as a default rather than secondary treatment option.”  

“Taking a pill first to solve a problem is endemic in the US culture and medical system.”

We also asked other questions, such as "Is religion good for mental health?" Some 74 percent agreed that it is.

Here is a supporting remark from a respondent.

"Absolutely. We live in the most un-churched region in the US and as a Christian that is involved with my church and a longtime startup exec, I have been blessed with the support of my church community in good times and in bad. Like therapy, it has helped me through very difficult periods in my life .Culture in the Valley loves to roll their eyes at “us’ that go to church. I’d welcome anyone to join me or any friend to attend a temple, mosque or church and give it a try before dismissing it.” 

Want to read the study? Go here: Mental Health survey 

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(Disclaimer: There were about 200 respondents, so statistically speaking, this is not a valid study.)  

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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