All well and good, but mental health/mental illness information is a little bit different than cancer information. A little bit more sensitive.
Let’s take one example that’s close to my heart.
Every year when I renew my physician’s license to practice, I must answer a question regarding my mental fitness to practice.
Now we all know that I am disabled, so of course I don’t formally practice medicine. I keep my license in case I am called upon in an emergency, like Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes’s esteemed companion.
I have never had a single complaint, lawsuit, or bad outcome. I am very careful to keep up my continuing education.
And yet, the one time I openly disclosed my psychiatric diagnoses when applying for a license in a new state, I was immediately bundled off to the “Physicians Health Program,” where I was forced to be drug tested weekly and attend a three month sham “behavioral health” program, aka “drug rehab,” even though I have never had any substance abuse issues and was not at the time using any drugs at all. Then I was put on “probation” for a year, even though I hold unrestricted licenses in good standing in four other states.
After putting up with this garbage for several months I withdrew, chalking this one up to a very expensive experiment. I paid the Honesty Tax. How degrading!
I will be very much heartened if I find that this registry is exactly what it purports to be: an instrument to better coordinate the search for better treatments.
But I doubt it. How could a centralized registry of psychiatric patients go untapped?
Let’s say I want to take a break from retirement and teach high school biology. They do a background check (I hope), and as of now, they don’t find anything, because I have no criminal record.
But if there is such a thing as this “Mental Health Registry,” who’s to say that in five years Homeland Security doesn’t find itself good reason to insist on the identities of the patients listed–oh, it says the data is anonymous, doesn’t it? But it also says that the registry will be a good source of patients for clinical trials.
Yes indeed, the Cancer Registry is a good place to find patients with specific cell types of specific cancers, to recruit for clinical trials of regimens for that specific cancer type.
Well and good! But mental illness is a bit more tricky.
Once we have names and diagnoses, we have information that can be subpoenaed. Patient information does require a subpoena.
But under the Patriot Act, will that rule of law stand? Or will the Registry database be…leaked, perhaps? Or simply mined by Big Brother?
Call me paranoid, but I am not at all comfortable with any computer mainframe having my psychiatric details. Even the Pentagon gets regularly hacked by high schoolers.