Childhood “mental illness” has become extremely popular of late. Having gone from being virtually non-existent not that long ago in recent history, now childhood mental illness labels are popping up everywhere. Fueling the frenzy, the American Academy of Pediatrics has just put out a call for more psychiatric labeling of children. An article just out in the Wall Street Journal, Call for Kids’ Mental-Health Checks, reports that the Academy is encouraging pediatricians to screen every child that passes through their offices for psychiatric conditions.
These doctors also should develop a network of mental-health professionals in the community to whom they can send patients if they suspect a child needs further evaluation, according to the task force on mental health convened by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The recommendations were made in a series of reports published in a supplement to the journal Pediatrics.
Great. Pediatricians need a behavioral police force then with whom children suspected of having psychiatric defects, or thinking ‘abnormal’ thoughts, can be detained for evaluation and guarantine purposes.
At the same time, there is a shortage of child mental-health experts, particularly psychiatrists. While 21% of U.S. children and adolescents have a diagnosable mental illness, only one-fifth of that group receives treatment, according to the academy.
Uh huh. Over 1/5 of the kid population suspected, but only 1/5 of this population has been nabbed.
Next unanswered question, is it Okay for the American Academy of Pediatrics to project a mental illness figure for our nation’s children of just over 1 in every 5 children? Let me tell you, this is pretty unacceptable in my book.
Increasing evidence suggests children fare better if they receive early intervention for behavioral and mental-health problems. And if parents have regular conversations with pediatricians about mental health from the time their children are young, they may feel more comfortable bringing up future concerns, making the pediatricians’ office “user-friendly for kids’ mental health issues,” Dr. [James] Perrin says.
The implication here is that if 1/5th of the kids thought to need help, get it, 4/5th of those kids thought to need help are going to get worse. I personally doubt that so many of the people getting treatment later, sans early intervention, belong to this 4/5th of the children pediatricians would turn over to mental health cops for this kind of fixing through early intervention. Sometimes problems have a way of taking care of themselves, and lessening over time. Sometimes, after all, problems develop later in life.
Alain LeGuillou, a private-practice pediatrician in Larchmont, N.Y., says he thinks it’s important and feasible to identify which children need further evaluation for mental-health concerns. He aims to refer them to specialists as soon as possible and is expanding his network with mental-health professionals in the community. “We don’t have to wait to have a perfect diagnosis,” said Dr. LeGuillou, who has been a pediatrician for 15 years. “As soon as we see a milestone that’s off, a behavior that’s changing or some parenting that’s inappropriate, then I tend to refer quickly.”
Perfect and diagnosis are 2 words I have never seen coupled before in this fashion. What could be perfect about “a milestone that’s off, a behavior that’s changing or some parenting that’s inappropriate”, and then are children being ‘treated’ for ‘inappropriate parenting’? Is it true that we could, in some instances, here be blaming the victim then, and letting the offender get off scot free?
I think this country has got better things to be doing with its children than labeling fully 1/5th of them “mentally ill”, and starting them off on a course that for some of them is sure to mean “long term’’, and perhaps even, “life long” “disability”. The course the Academy of Pediatrics is recommending is a dangerious one that is certain to land a number of children and adolescents in worse circumstances than whatever bad circumstances they might have been starting from. On top of this situation, the polypharmacy that such screening will, in all inevitability, result in is going to mean more and more kids suffering from the iatrogenic diseases that go along with such polypharmacy.
We should be keeping children out of mental health treatment, and we should not be rushing to get them into such treatment. The presumption of health until proven sick used to be the rule, and it should return to being the rule.
A colleague of mine has suggested that this course of action is being taken purely for financial and fee based, and certainly for less than altruistic, reasons on the part of organized pediatricians, and I find little reason to doubt such a conclusion to be true. My advice to parents dealing with often unruly children is to be wary of pediatricians who take this tact. You definitely don’t want them to use your children to further dicemate the numbers of healthy children our nation still has.
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