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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Patrick McGorry's Headstrong DeLorean Posse Part I


One only has to spend a few minutes browsing the Internet these days in search of resources regarding mental health before they stumble across time-travelling DeLorean psychiatrist, Patrick McGorry. You'd normally have to land on pages from McGorry's country of residence, Australia, so, as you can imagine, I was kind of surprised to see him sitting proudly on the board at Headstrong, the national centre for youth mental Ireland!

That DeLorean certainly has clocked up some miles.

The vision of Headstong is : " Ireland where young people are connected to their community and have the resilience to face challenges to their mental health."

Their 2009 annual report sees their [then] Chair, Deirdre Mortell, speak highly of McGorry. The opening of the 2009 annual report reads:

Headstrong continued to advocate for better mental health services for young people, with a special focus on the need to intervene early. We were fortunate to have Professor Pat McGorry of Headstrong’s Board, on sabbatical in Ireland for six months. Pat, who is an international pioneer in youth mental health, used his time in Ireland to share his knowledge about the merits of developing a youth model with an early intervention focus.

6 months?

Mortell continues with: "We were pleased to end the year with a significant grant over the next three years from The Atlantic Philanthropies."

Significant is an understatement. In fact, Headstrong received a massive $1,509,350 from The Atlantic Philanthropies. [1]

Today's Headstrong website sees not only McGorry but also a change of Chair in Sheelah Ryan. Deidrie Mortell is listed as Co-Founder of The One Foundation. That's quite a sabbatical for McGorry. Maybe he keeps flicking the time dial on the DeLorean dashboard because he loves Ireland so much that he wants to remain it in the future...or in the past.

What concerns me here is the stance taken by Headstrong regarding the 'merits' of developing a youth model with an early intervention focus. I suspect there will be DeLoreans at the dozen for Headstrong's board members.


Sheelah Ryan (Chair) - Consultant to the Public Sector.

Dr. Ryan previously chaired the National Breast Screening Board and held this position until the creation of BreastCheck

What I am trying to mull around here is why a Dr, who was part of a breast screening program would now be Chair person of a mental health charity?

Ryan's role before chairing the National Breast Screening Board was chief officer of the Health Service Executive (HSE) West [2]

In December last year a new HSE inpatient facility for young people in crisis was opened in Merlin Park, Galway with plans of a similar unit in Cork in 2011. Would this be the reason why [in 2011] Sheelah Ryan is the Chair of Headstrong?

Headstrong's 2010 Newsletter announced Sheelah Ryan to their Board, adding:

Sheelah qualified as a doctor in NUI Galway and went on to specialise in Public Health medicine. After ten years as Director of Community Care services in the Midland Board, and a further five as Programme Manager of Hospital services in the North-East region, she became C.E.O of the Western Health Board (eight years), and oversaw the transition of the Board into the HSE. In parallel with this, she was the foundation Chair of Breastcheck and continued to Chair the three subsequent boards overseeing its transition into the National Cancer Screening Agency, until finally, the organisation was subsumed into the HSE on the 1st ofApril 2010. During her career, Sheelah was a member of many boards, including Bord Altranais, Comhairle na nOispideal and St Lukes’ Hospital. Since taking early retirement from the Health Services, she provides Consultancy services to the Public Sector on public health issues, organisation development, and governance.

Tony Bates, founder director of Headstrong, wrote in 2010: "...we are in a better position than ever to offer young people a welcome alternative to being admitted to adult psychiatric facilities." [3]

His article, "Good news for young mental health patients", goes on to 'big-up' the Orygen service in Melbourne, Australia, whose founder and clinical director is one Patrick McGorry.

Vroom vroom!

In fact McGorry was quoted, once again in the Irish Times, as early as 1998. In what can only be described as ridiculous and non-scientific, the article, entitled, "New drugs for schizophrenia enable more effective treatment" [4] reads:

New medications to treat schizophrenia are resulting in fewer and less severe side-effects, a leading US psychiatrist has told a medical conference in Dublin. Dr David Pickar, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Health Sciences, Maryland, said the new generation of medicines was enabling more effective treatments of all stages of the illness.

Addressing the St John of God/ Eli Lilly conference on schizophrenia (which affects one in every 100 people during their lifetime), Prof Pickar said new drugs were resulting in less social withdrawal, introversion and depression, invariably associated with older medicines.

The St John of God is a hospital in Stillorgan, Dublin, whose Adult Mental Health Research Committee proclaimed in 2009 that they were, "pleased to announce a one day conference with an international line-up of distinguished academics and clinicians. The conference will address important developments in service provision, treatment, outcome and diagnosis of early psychosis." [Fig A]

Fig A

Notice one of the key speakers in 2009? Our time-travelling friend, Patrick McGorry.

Going back in our DeLorean we can see the 1998 Irish Times article,  "New drugs for schizophrenia enable more effective treatment", actually quotes McGorry:

Early recognition and treatment of schizophrenia have significant implications for the future psychiatric and social well-being of the patient, according to Prof Patrick McGorry of the University of Melbourne.

The average delay between the beginning of psychotic symptoms and treatment is about one year. "Everybody who works with or is involved with young people, such as parents, priests and educators, should watch out for consistent changes in behaviour and functioning," he said.

When doctors see young people who may be exhibiting changes in behaviour, they should continue to see them regularly and monitor them closely for emergence of psychosis, Prof McGorry said.

"This helps to reduce the delay before a referral to the appropriate service is made and treatment is started."

Hmm, treatment is started eh? And what of the sponsors of that 1998 conference,  Eli Lilly? Would it be safe to assume that they have/had a vested interest in improving the outcome of psychosis?

Call me a cynic if you want.




[1] Headstrong Grantee Summary
[2] HSE makes new plans for hospice patients [Irish Times - Friday, April 15, 2005] Subscription Needed
[3] "Good news for young mental health patients" [Irish Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2010]
[4] "New drugs for schizophrenia enable more effective treatment" - [Irish Times - Saturday, October 17, 1998] - Subscription Needed

Related Articles:

Patrick McGorry: "Hey... Paddy... Leave Those Kids Alone"

Patrick McGorry - Torn Asunder Down Under

Early Intervention, McGorry, Politics & TV Shows

Psychiatrist Patrick McGorry Slams His Critics [Diddums]

Is Australia's "Number One Man" Misleading The Public?

Pre-Mental Disorder Screening & Drugging - THE PHARMACEUTICAL DELOREAN

Patrick McGorry's Delorean Pulls Over For New Passenger

Patrick McGorry & Co Under Fire

Hickierie Dickory Doc - McGorry Turns Back the Clock

Psychiatrist's Assessment of Patrick McGorry

Patrick McGorry's "Back to the Future" 2008 Study

Australian Doctor Magazine Sees Patrick McGorry Defend His Position

Australian Member of Parliament, Martin Whitely, also speaks out against McGorry's Headspace initiative HERE.

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