Beware Scientologists Claiming To Be Mental Health Professionals
Group Intentionally Confusing Public

Austin, TX (September 20, 2001) - The Mental Health Association in Texas (MHAT) and the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) today is warning the public and media to beware of representatives of the Church of Scientology who are claiming to be mental health professionals assisting individuals in New York City.

"This is a very important and sensitive time," said Michael M. Faenza, President and CEO of NMHA. "I urge the Church of Scientology to stay out of mental health. The public needs to understand that the Scientologists are using this tragedy to recruit new members. They are not providing mental health assistance."

Faenza said Fox News had been broadcasting an 800 help line for "National Mental Health Assistance" and the network was unaware that the number was being answered by the Scientologist's center in Los Angeles.

"The National Mental Health Association has received a number of unconfirmed reports that Scientologists with the letters NMHA on their shirts have been seen in New York claiming to be mental health professionals," Faenza explained. In fact, a Scientologist spokesman told the St. Petersburg Times they had 450 volunteers working there.

Melanie Gantt, public policy director for the Mental Health Association in Texas said, "This is not the first experience Texas has had with such duplicity. As legislators discussed mandating full mental health insurance benefits in insurance policies for children, members of the Texas Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, the psychiatric watchdog branch of the Church of Scientology, were reported to be presenting themselves to legislative offices as mental health professionals opposed to such legislation."

In 1969, the Church of Scientology established the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to oppose the field of psychiatry. From the CCHR website: "Scientologists - and indeed, many others of integrity and good will - will not tolerate psychiatry." Also from the CCHR web site: "Psychiatric practices destroy minds and reduce man to a robotized and drugged state where he can be controlled"

"The police, fire departments, federal authorities and the media need to beware of these individuals claiming to be mental health professionals, and make sure they are working with credible mental health organizations," Faenza said.

The National Mental Health Association is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research and service. The Mental Health Association in Texas has been following this mission since 1935.

NMHA is providing mental health assistance to American communities through its local and state affiliates, including the Mental Health Association in Texas, to individuals at 1-800-969-NMHA and at