In 2003 a report on â€œmental health careâ€ presented to the federal government recommended that all 52 million American schoolchildren be screened for â€œmental illness,â€ claimingâ€”without a shred of scientific evidenceâ€”that â€œearly detection, assessment, and links with treatmentâ€ could â€œprevent mental health problems from worsening.â€ Already implemented in many states, screening and â€œinterventionâ€ is to be provided through primary health care facilities, schools, juvenile justice and child welfareâ€”to anyone aged between 3 and 21. Millions of taxpayer dollars have already been allocated to this, which means that Americaâ€™s already burgeoning numbers of children being prescribed potentially lethal psychiatric drugs could treble within a few years to 30 million.
Drugs Cause Violence, Suicide and Death
Ten million American children are already prescribed drugs that can kill them or predispose them to later illicit drug abuse, violence or suicide.
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Antidepressants are commonly prescribed as a result of mental health screening, yet dozens of international drug regulatory agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), warn that these drugs cause anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia (severe restlessness), hypomania (abnormal excitement) and mania (psychosis characterized by exalted feelings and delusions of grandeur).
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In October 2004, the FDA ordered its most stringent â€œblack boxâ€ warning that antidepressants also cause suicide in children and adolescents. In November 2005, it ordered labeling changes to the antidepressant, Effexor, warning that it could cause â€œhomicidal ideation.â€
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â In 2006, the FDA also revealed that stimulantsâ€”prescribed to 6 million American children for so-called â€œlearningâ€ or â€œbehavioral disordersâ€â€”could cause hallucinations, psychosis, strokes, heart attacks and death. Already there have been 25 deaths. The public was also warned that there had been 45 child deaths from antipsychotic drugs, largely prescribed for the same â€œdisorders.â€
The Prescribed Drugs Behind School Shootings
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â At least 8 out of 13 school shootings have been committed by teens taking these prescribed mind-altering drugs. The medical information of the other teen killers is not publicly available.
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â False claims have been made that screening can prevent suicides. Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America, says, â€œTheyâ€™re pulling numbers out of thin airâ€”falsely presuming that this crisis is about lack of access to drugs and calling for government to provide more and more of what many of us believe is the wrong kind of treatment.â€
Screening Doesnâ€™t Prevent Suicide; Drugs Increase It
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Psychiatrists claim that antidepressants decrease suicide, but according to a Journal of the American Medical Association study, â€œDespite a dramatic increase in treatment, no significant decrease occurred in suicidal thoughts, plans, gestures, or attempts in the United States during the 1990s.â€
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention, said it had â€œfound no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality.â€
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A 2005 study by Dr. David Healy and Graham Aldred from the North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine, Cardiff University, Wales, reported that the studies of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants show that they increase the risk of suicide.
TeenScreen Lacks Reliability and Science
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â One of the recommended screening programs for schools is called TeenScreenâ„¢. Dr. David Shaffer, the psychiatrist that developed this, admitted that use of this screening method could mean 84 non-suicidal teens could be referred for further evaluation for every 16 youths â€œcorrectly identified.â€ Kelly Patricia Oâ€™Meara, journalist and former congressional staff, warns: â€œSince when does an 84% failure rate equate to a reliable scientific test? In other words, based on [Dr.] Shafferâ€™s study of his own test, 84 students out of 100 will be incorrectly identified as suffering from a specific mental illness. One has to wonder if parents of America are informed of this astonishing statistic as part of information to consider when having to decide whether or not to allow the mental health screening test.â€
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The subjective questions in TeenScreen include, â€œHas there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you just werenâ€™t interested in anything?â€ and â€œHas there been a time when you felt you couldnâ€™t do anything well or that you werenâ€™t as good looking or as smart as other people?â€ Based on the outcome, a further questionnaire looks for 18 psychiatric disorders, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The DSM is noted for its lack of scientific credibility and its unreliability. In April 2005, a study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics also determined there were undisclosed financial relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatrists involved in voting on which â€œmental disordersâ€ should be included in the DSM. Researchers Lisa Cosgrove, a psychologist from the University of Massachusetts and Sheldon Krimsky, a Tuft University professor, found that drug companies funded 100% of psychiatrists involved in the panels determining â€œmood disorders,â€ â€œdepressionâ€ and â€œpsychotic disorders,â€ which account for more than $20 billion in drug sales. Drug companies also fund TeenScreen testing of students.
Parental Consent and Government Funding
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Parents need to know that unlike medical diseases, there is no x-ray, blood or other physical test to determine if a child has a â€œmental disorder,â€ that mental health screening is based on subjective questions, not medical science, and that any â€œinformed consentâ€ form must obtain the above information.
Â§Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Government funding should never be used for mental health-screening programs and should be allocated, instead, to better educational facilities, teachers and tutoring to improve the literacy and educational standards of students.
For more information visit http://www.cchrstl.org/screening.shtml