John Grohol at Psych Central makes some excellent points about some of the assumptions in the New York Times article:
The article only refers to psychiatrists as being responsible for treating people with mental illness, which is an unfortunate oversight. Psychiatrists make up the smallest profession responsible for the treatment of mental illness — it would have been more balanced to refer to “mental health professionals.”
The writer’s bias goes beyond only referring to psychiatrists in the article. She also apparently believes that mental disorders can only be treated by drugs (which is mentioned a few times in the article; psychotherapy is mentioned zero times):
Mr. Oaks, who was found to be schizophrenic and manic-depressive while an undergraduate at Harvard, says he maintains his mental health with exercise, diet, peer counseling and wilderness trips — strategies that are well outside the mainstream thinking of psychiatrists and many patients.
Really now? Having regular exercise, a good diet, and engaging in self-help support groups is “outside the mainstream thinking of psychiatrists” when it comes to maintaining good mental health and wellness? How does she know that? Did she survey them?
Of course not — this is the writer’s opinion creeping into the writing, and getting it 100% wrong. Most mental health professionals recognize the importance of maintaining a good diet, exercising, and self-help support groups in helping a person in their recovery efforts. None of these ideas are outside of the mainstream thinking (the only one that is would be wilderness trips, but hey, some people like to hike and camp, nothing wrong with that — getting back to nature is very centering and helpful to many).