By Rob Wipond|2020-08-07T06:57:13+00:00January 5th, 2018|
Many news articles about a study of influenza vaccine and miscarriages raised good questions—but for questionable reasons, reports Rob Wipond.
(This article appeared in The BMJ (British Medical Journal), January 5, 2018.)
When reporting on medical studies, the popular press has a habit of sensationalising. So the muted response to a recent research paper reporting increased risk of miscarriage with influenza vaccines was at first sight surprising.
The study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that women who had received an influenza vaccine containing the 2009 pandemic strain pH1N1 and who were also vaccinated in the next flu season had a statistically significant, 7.7-fold higher odds of spontaneous abortion within 28 days of the second vaccination. (Absolute risk increase could not be calculated because it was a case-control study.) The concerning odds ratio fostered extensive discussion in the paper. But the news media projected an air of calm, highlighting the observational study’s many limitations.
By Rob Wipond|2016-11-13T02:15:48+00:00November 13th, 2016|
Some people say that our province’s strong mental health laws save lives. A constitutional court challenge says they lead to discrimination, abuse, fear and the flight of psychiatric refugees.
THE PSYCHIATRIC NURSE held out a paper cup with pills. Sarah clasped a handwritten note. Having learned not to protest loudly, the 24-year-old gave the nurse her note that read, “I have a right to my mind and my body.” Then, she reluctantly put the pills in her mouth.
Sarah knew that she had to execute her escape out of British Columbia quickly, before the drugs seized control of her mind again.
Sarah (she requested her name be withheld) is sharing her story to show support for a constitutional court challenge recently launched by Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS). The Vancouver non-profit is arguing that a key part of British Columbia’s Mental Health Act, called “deemed consent,” violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“At CLAS, we’re routinely told that people are either
By Rob Wipond|2015-12-09T19:39:54+00:00December 9th, 2015|
A surprise government announcement could lead to the resolution of long-standing controversies about police secrecy.
The British Columbia provincial government has pledged to pass legislation to make the BC Association of Chiefs of Police and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police “public bodies.” The announcement came from Bette-Jo Hughes, Chief Information Officer and Associate Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, speaking in mid-November to MLAs reviewing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The amendment to FOIPPA could resolve many concerns about how the associations operate — concerns that Focus has been reporting since 2012.
“I will be prepared to celebrate when the ink is dry,” commented Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association. Vonn has reason to be concerned. For years, members of the associations have sidestepped transparency and accountability by ping-ponging between claims that they were acting as “private citizens” or “public servants.” For example, the BCACP
By Rob Wipond|2015-02-20T17:48:46+00:00February 20th, 2015|
The real purpose behind many of these statistics is to change our attitudes and political positions.
ABOUT one in five American adults (18.6%) has a mental illness in any given year, according to recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health. This statistic has been widely reported with alarm and concern. It’s been used to back up demands for more mental health screening in schools, more legislation to forcibly treat the unwilling, more workplace psychiatric interventions, and more funding for the mental health system. And of course, personally, whenever we or someone we know is having an emotional or psychological problem, we now wonder, is it a mental illness requiring treatment? If one in five of us have one….
But what NIMH quietly made disappear from its website is the fact that this number actually represented a dramatic drop. “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable
By Rob Wipond|2015-12-09T19:36:52+00:00November 3rd, 2014|
A major study identifying the highest risk factors for suicide we’ve ever found has been barely discussed.
(This article was published by AlterNet on October 23, 2014. I am republishing it here in full with some of the links to references included for those who are interested.)
One of the most provocative studies of suicide ever done was published in the September edition of the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. It appeared shortly after Robin Williams’ suicide, and shortly before the World Health Organization’s World Suicide Prevention Day. Both of those events received widespread media attention, but this study was not reported by any media that I’ve seen, except relatively obscurely by me in my role as news editor for the online science and psychiatry community Mad In America.
The study looked at a broad population and identified some closely related, easily modifiable factors in people’s lives that were linked to being 6 times, 28 times, and
By Rob Wipond|2014-07-10T05:42:49+00:00July 10th, 2014|
Experts point to mounting evidence that scientifically dubious mental health screening programs are just one part of an international governance shift towards creating all-pervasive surveillance systems for diagnosing ‘pre-crime’ and managing ‘at-risk’ children and youth. And not only is this not helping kids, critics argue, it’s demonstrably harming them.
Part two of a Mad In America investigation into the expansion of psychological screening and electronic surveillance of children and youth. Read it here.
By Rob Wipond|2014-07-07T06:30:40+00:00July 7th, 2014|
A new government-funded mental health training program for British Columbia family physicians and school staff promotes screening for mental disorders in all children and youth. Critics say the program omits key scientific evidence, seems more like drug promotion than medical education, and downplays serious potential harms. Nevertheless, programs like it are rolling out across Canada and the US.
Part one of a two-part Mad In America investigation into the expansion of psychological screening and electronic surveillance of children and youth.
By Rob Wipond|2014-05-05T17:23:38+00:00May 5th, 2014|
Following closely on the heels of Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recommendation that the BC Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police should be made subject to provincial freedom of information laws, the RCMP has been ordered to conduct an internal investigation of the BCACP. Read more at Focusonline.
By Rob Wipond|2014-07-12T23:27:12+00:00March 5th, 2014|
Through years of turmoil and confusion, Cindi Fisher’s enduring love for her involuntarily committed son gradually changed her from compliant mom to mental health civil rights activist. That’s when authorities banned her from even contacting her son. But could she be a bellwether of a coming nation-wide wave of protestors? Click here to read the full article at Madinamerica.com