SYDNEY (AFP) - Hollywood film star and Scientologist Tom Cruise was accused by Australian mental health experts Wednesday of being reckless and irresponsible for attacking the benefits of psychiatry and mood-altering drugs.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and a national charity, SANE Australia, advised Australians using psychiatric drugs who are concerned by the screen idol's remarks not to change their treatment.
"It is reckless and potentially dangerous of Mr Cruise to make uninformed comments about the treatment of mental illness; many people are well because medication plays an important role in managing their health," said SANE's director Barbara Hocking.
"The stigma and misunderstanding of mental illnesses, such as postnatal depression, prevents help-seeking behaviour for people who are unwell."
The president of RANZCP, Julian Freidin, said: "Scientific research has clearly demonstrated that modern treatments for psychiatric illnesses - including medications - are safe and effective."
The joint statement, entitled "Tom Cruise's 'Mission Irresponsible'", said his comments should be seen in the context of his religious beliefs as a Scientologist.
Cruise created controversy recently when he criticised actress Brooke Shields for revealing that she went into therapy and took anti-depressants to deal with postnatal depression.
Defending his remarks later on NBC television's "Today" show presented by Matt Lauer, Cruise launched into an attack on the whole field of psychiatric medicine, which Scientologists spurn.
"Psychiatry is a pseudo science," Cruise said. "She (Shields) doesn't understand the history of psychiatry. She doesn't understand in the same way that you don't understand it, Matt. You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do."