Ban Mental Health Screening In Schools

Schools are starting up again across the country, and with the new school semester comes the selling of fall clothing, backpacks, writing utensils, notebooks, lunchpails, pharmaceutical products and psychiatric treatments. Psychiatry? Yeah, that’s right, psychiatry.

An article in The Wall Street Journal, Will Students Take a Mental Health Test?, concerns mental health screening in schools. According to this article, many students in schools throughout this nation are at risk for being tested for mental health issues.

As they return to classes this week, ninth-graders in Wisconsin’s Fond du Lac school district will be sent home with something for parents to sign besides the usual forms for sports activities and field trips: a consent for their children to undergo a mental-health screening.

I do not approve of schools screening for mental health issues. I would tell any parent facing such a fiasco just to say no to signing any such consent form. TeenScreen, one of the most frequent tests used in screening for mental health issues, has an 84 % false positive rate. What these tests manage to do is to raise the rate of “mental illness” labeling in any area where they are used.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, half of all cases of mental illness start by age 14, and about 11% of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18. Left untreated, such issues can lead to high dropout rates, substance abuse, violence—and suicide, the third-leading cause of death in adolescents. In a study of 2,500 students who went through the Fond du Lac program at six public high schools between 2005 and 2009, published last week in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, nearly 20% were identified as at risk, of whom 73.6% were not receiving treatment at the time of screening. Among that group, more than three-quarters completed at least one visit with a mental-health provider within 90 days after referral to school and community services.

The 1st statistic given here is one of the biggest reasons a person could find for opposing the mental health screening of children and adolescents. The wording given is a little more vague than it should be. One half of all LIFETIME cases of “mental illness” have been diagnostically labeled by age 14. These are people that spend the bulk of their lifetimes on disability as a burden to society as a whole. The question that isn’t answered here is how many of these children would not have become chronic mental cases if they had not been singled out and labeled so early in their lives. Mental health screening can only increase the numbers of children labeled at such a young and impressionable age.

A lack of treatment is then blamed for “high dropout rates, substance abuse, violence, and suicide”, but the question I want to pose to you is how many of these children labeled at 14 years of age were left untreated? I don’t imagine any of them were left untreated. Labeling and treating children then is a way to increase the number of mental cases on disability for a lifetime. We don’t have any statistics showing that mental health screening reduces the rate of chronic “mental illness” labeling in the world one iota. We don’t have any statistics showing mental health screening, in other words, to be a preventive measure when it comes to so-called chronic and serious “mental illness”.

A student flunks a mental health test, or a student passes a “mental illness” test, depending on your perspective, and the rate of “mental illness” labeling in the nation soars. A “mental illness” witchhunt, whether done by tests or mandatory psychiatric inquisitions, is not going to lower the number of people on disability for mental health issues. We don’t know whether any of these young people identified by a test as having a mental health issue would not have gotten better naturally without treatment if not so targetted. We can safely assume that this is probably the case in many of these cases. One thing you can be sure of is that the number of people labeled “mentally ill” and receiving disability is not going to decrease given mental health screening.

Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas) recently reintroduced legislation that would prohibit federal funds from being used for any mandatory mental-health screening program without parental consent, including TeenScreen. (TeenScreen’s Ms. Flynn says that parental consent is always required.) Because there are errors and false positives on such tests—kids who aren’t really depressed but may answer questions in a way that makes them seem so—opponents also fear children will be wrongly identified as problematic and stigmatized, or that parents will be penalized if they don’t seek treatment.

Simply requiring a consent form is not going far enough. Nearly 10 % of the population of this nation now is taking SSRI anti-depressants. We certainly don’t need to put more children on these drugs. Mental health screening tests need to be banned. Mental health screening by businesses is a way of discriminating against employing people who have been in mental health treatment. Mental health screening by schools is a way of making scapegoats out of certain students who are judged to be different. Concerned parents and engaged citizens around the nation need to join together to insure that these tests are not used to harm and alienate students in their home communities.

Recent Trends in Philosophy

Disclaimer: the following post is fiction. It was composed for strictly satirical purposes, and the views expressed within it are not be confused with the views of the author in any way, shape, or manner whatsoever.

A new philosophy is sweeping some quarters of the world at the present moment. This new philosophy goes by the name of invalidism, and it involves a devaluation of all customary values. The mantra of true believers of invalidism is, “I think I can’t, I think I can’t, I think I can’t”. Proponents of invalidism have replaced the Cartesian cogito, “I think, therefore I am”, with the invalidist cogito, “I can’t, therefore I can’t.” Invalidism is all about the corrosive power of negative thinking.

Allied with, and related to, this invalidism is a small but growing school of thought, mutilated by the moniker, disablism. Disablists are enthusiasts in the pursuit of inability. Incapacity is their field of endeavor and expertise, their profession, as it were. Disablists feel that the government should be paying them to practice a new nerve-soothing exercise they have come up with by the name of vegetation. Some disablists have learned to vegetate with facility.

Invalidism and disablism are both branches of the more general and all encompassing philosophy of medicalism. Medicalism would replace residential neighborhoods with a gigantic nationwide communal complex known as the hospital. There are to be two basic classes of citizen in this communal development project, patients and staff. Patients are experts in the theories of invalidism and disablism. The hospital staff works devotedly as servants for the more sophisticated and aristocratic patient savants and their elaborate theories.

Proponents of medicalism believe in medicine, or better functioning through the use of performance affecting drugs. Their philosophy involves a belief that millions upon millions of years of evolution can be improved upon by the instantaneous addition of a few choice chemicals. Medicalists have made mistakes, in some instances, but in the name of science. They believe all their endeavors are ultimately directed at improving nature. They also believe that the amazingly convoluted mental gymnastics invalidists and disablists sometimes display are the result of defective and mutant genes.

Bleakness is the new buzzword in our expanding age of medicalists, invalidists, and disablists. The increasingly complex nature of contemporary living means increasingly complex problems demanding increasingly complex solutions. These solutions are often arrived at in a laboratory, and make mega-bucks for their discoverers. Gone are the good old days when the simple joys of living made people content. Happiness, at present, can only be found in a medicine cabinet.

Dumb Teens Make Stupid DVD

You gotta wonder what they’re teaching kids these days. Here, for example, is an article with the heading, Teens make DVD about mental illness [http://www.courant.com/health/fl-hk-teen-mental-illness-20110823,0,6169683.story]. I don’t intend to view it, but given a little bit of imagination you can come up with your own distressing scenarios. Guess what we learned in school today, Mom? We learned I have a serious mental illness.

“My hope is that one day we talk about mental illness as much as we talk about cancer, as a disease,” said Haylee Becker, 17, a 2011 graduate of Atlantic High School in Delray Beach who has been diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. “It’s too late for the school system to do things for me that would have made me healthier, but I hope they can start intercepting other kids at a younger age.”

I’ve got news for you, Haylee. Cancer is an illness; mental illness is a semantically incorrect mishmash. Talking about cancer may not make the cancer go away, but talking about mental illness is definitely not going to make the delusions go away. Maybe the schools ought to start “intercepting” a few fewer kids at younger and younger ages than they do now.

Puberty and adolescent rebellion hit almost simultaneously, and the next thing you know, this girl is ‘off her meds’. At 15, not only does she have fewer rights as a child, but she has even fewer rights as a result of psychiatric labeling and oppression.

When she turned 13, Becker said, she started hating school and began skipping it. At 15 and 16, therapists ordered her into institutions because she was not taking her medications and had lengthy episodes of crying and refusing to get out of bed.

Where mom and dad were at this time, who knows? As the medical model propaganda tells us, they couldn’t have been at all responsible.

Given counseling and psychiatric drugs, Haylee Becker, reports that she has learned to accept her disability. Great lesson, kid! This business of accepting the suggestion made that you have a disability. Uh, or do I mean excepting? Now, do you have any abilities to report as well?

The real clincher is right here…

Mental illness among teens is more common than many people realize. One in 10 children and teens is depressed at any moment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Almost 5 percent have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and another 5 percent Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or hostility to authority figures. Eating disorders affect about 2 percent of teens, while conduct disorders touch up to 4 percent.

They’re selling psychiatric drugs, and they can’t sell psychiatric drugs without selling mental illness. One of the fastest growing markets for psychiatric drugs today is among children and adolescents. These teens have, unwittingly perhaps, jumped onto the drug manufacturer’s band wagon.

If it weren’t for multiple labels, so called co-occurring disorders, these percentages would add up to an incredible 26 %. Some psychiatrists like to make people look really messed up by claiming they have more than one disorder. This also gives them the opportunity to resort to the very ineffective, but potentially very damaging, practice of polypharmacy, or putting people on mixed psychiatric drug cocktails.

The problem, as it stands, is that Miss Becker and the other teens involved in this project will probably be continuing to receive “help”. For many teenagers with “mental illness” labels, in fact, there is a possibility that this “help” will extend to the end of their days. Given this reality, I feel like I must give my thumbs up to teens that have a completely different message to convey.

North Carolina Considers Compensating Victims Of Eugenics

Legislators in North Carolina are considering compensation for victims of eugenics. This would be a bigger step towards achieving some kind of justice for the people who endured this practice than I’ve seen before. In Virginia I remember the present Senator Mark Warner, when he was the state’s governor, issued a public apology for the practice. I imagine that a public apology of that sort could be put to better use as toilet paper.

The Charlotte Observer has a story on efforts underway to find still living eugenics victims, N.C. eugenics survivors prove elusive.

State officials say they believe at least 1,500 of the women, girls, boys and men sterilized under state authority from 1929 to 1974 are still alive.

One year into a 3 year quest for still living sterilization abuse victims, and only 34 such victims to date have been found. Nonetheless, some of those survivors are reported to be very vocal in expressing their outrage.

The Eugenics Board of North Carolina – one of many similar boards across the country – authorized sterilization of roughly 7,600 North Carolinians. Mecklenburg County did the most in the state, by far. From 1946 to 1968, when the state kept its most detailed records, 485 people in Mecklenburg were sterilized through the eugenics board. Gaston County was third, with 161.

3 categories of people were targeted for sterilization by the state, people labeled with “mental illness”, people with epilepsy, and people deemed “feeble minded”.

North Carolina is the first state to seriously consider compensating survivors. In March, [Govenor Bev] Perdue created a five-person task force to figure out possible cash payments for people sterilized under the eugenics board. The task force has met four times but hasn’t settled on an amount; the number it has talked about most is $20,000 per victim. But nothing’s final, and the task force won’t make an official recommendation until February.

This compensation would be small potatoes, and as one observer complained, way too small. A eugenics victim in Canada sued for $740,000. In another case, 1000 Canadian victims received $142,000,000. Small as it would be, this compensation would still represent an great improvement over no official acknowledgment of wrong doing at all and continued state neglect.

State Representative Larry Womble of Winston-Salem has introduced a bill into the state legislature asking for $20,000 for every living victim found of North Carolina’s sterilization practices.

It must be remembered that North Carolina wasn’t alone in sterilizing people in the name of eugenics. I hope the state does succeed in compensating its victims, and I hope that such an action will set a precedent that other states can follow. Given any other course of action, in this instance, and justice still waits to be served.

Patient Protest at a New Jersey Mental Hospital

Patients at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Parsippany, New Jersey, are protesting new rules and therapy sessions, according to an article in NJ.com, Parsippany psychiatric hospital patients boycott therapy sessions, protest new rules.

Nearly half of the 432 patients at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital have signed a petition or boycotted therapy sessions this month to protest new rules they say further limit their activities and force them to attend programs that don’t help in their recovery, patients and an advocacy groups say.

Almost half the patients at Greystone Park have the nerve to tell hospital officials something is not right within its walls.

The conflict arose Aug. 1, when managers at the hospital in Parsippany reduced the number of visits allowed to the Park Cafe, a commissary and meeting place for patients, from every weeknight and weekends to twice a week.

The patients petition also complains about recently limited access to a library and a computer room.

A department official said that the café hours were cut in order to get patients to participate in “more recovery-oriented, evidence-based treatments”.

Christopher Badger, a patient for nearly four years, said he speaks for several “high-functioning” patients who describe many treatment programs as little more than coloring, playing board games and listening to music. State officials dismissed the claim by some that the changes were intended to prevent them from having access to such things as cigarettes and drugs.

Coloring books, board games, and music listening…I wonder whether such “recovery-oriented, evidence-based treatments” even “work” in kindergarten.

New Jersey’s protection and advocacy agency, Disability Rights New Jersey, has even come out as sympathetic to the patient’s complaints.

Greystone Park is one of 5, soon to be 4 (Yay deinstitutionalization!), state hospitals in the state of New Jersey.

Although the hospital has been unmoving with regard to patient grievances, it is our hope that this pressure will compell the hospital to give more consideration to the self-determination and stymied rights of patients confined within its wall.

Addictions, behavioral and chemical, declared brain diseases

No gain without a pain killer!

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has opened a Pandora’s box that will surely come back to haunt them. The LA Times reports, Addiction is a brain disease, experts declare. The problem here is that we’re not just talking alcoholism, speed and heroin, we’re also talking gambling, sex, and the internet.

Addiction is “not simply a behavioral problem involving too much alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex,” the American Society of Addiction Medicine declared this week. Instead, the society notes, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.”

I don’t get the idea that anybody laying down solid evidence to support this thesis. I’d like to be shown an extracted brain circuit, for instance.

In other words, addiction is not just about the act of raising a bottle to the lips, drawing deeply on a cigarette or bingeing guiltily in chocolate bars in private. There just might be something amiss in your head that compels you to behave that way.

There you go…chocolate addiction! From what I’ve heard the DSM-V is set to include gambling as an addiction with sex and the internet in the appendix, sort of knocking at the gate if you will. I can’t help but think that ASAM is envisioning a greatly expanded DSM-VI already.

Sex addiction (hypersexuality) is an example of one of these so called behavioral addictions that readily lends itself to parody. What’s the difference between a sex addict and a mere enthusiast? Usually it’s a partner that the “addict” is in a supposedly committed relationship with. Alright, you’ve got a person who either ends the relationship, and can revert to enthusiast status, or you’ve got a person who is so addicted to this partner as to make such a reversion more difficult than usual. The partner is usually not such an enthusiast, and in fact, is usually if married on the way to divorce court, and if not married is in the process of transitioning to another partner. Unless, of course, he or she has been gulled into buying the sex addiction argument.

This is a first for ASAM, previous definitions have restricted the ground covered to substance abuse. Now every fad and fancy in the book is open to reassessment as a behavioral addiction, and a behavioral addiction equaling “brain disease”. Why? Because, of course, ASAM says so.

But just because something’s widely accepted professionally doesn’t mean it’s widely accepted out there in the world. At the website of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, you’ll see colorful PET scan images that attempt to drum home the point: One is of a normal brain and one of a cocaine abuser: metabolically, they look quite different. Right next to that pairing is another set of images, of two hearts – one healthy, one diseased. Again, the images look quite different. There would be no controversy over declaring one of the hearts physically diseased. That can’t be said for addiction, even in the face of all the evidence.

Right, now how different is the brain of an addicted internet user from a complete computer naif?

The health food obsession, as I made note of in an earlier post, has for some time, and in some quarters, been categorized under the mental disorder tag Orthorexia. This is amusing as junk food addiction has not yet entered the medical lexicon. Of course, there’s another disorder associated with pigging out on a fast food regimen, and that’s a growing problem in this country, obesity. Next thought, if only there were more exercise junkies around, and exercise junkies who could keep off the steroids.

The Latest Development In Psychobabble

Psychobabble is also a psychological term used to denote the misdiagnosis and misclassification of natural variation in human psychology as psychopathological, or mentally disordered, and is based upon the premise of exaggerated overmedicalization of physiological ailments to increase profits for the medical industry.
~from Psychobabble – Wikipedia

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Agency), the US government mental health agency, out to develop a working definition of recovery, should consult the dictionary sometimes. The dictionary offers a much clearer definition of the word than any of the silt SAMHSA has been able to stir up recently.

SAMHSA’s working definition is as follows.

Recovery is a process of change whereby individuals work to improve their own health and wellness and to live a meaningful life in a community of their choice while striving to achieve their full potential.

Hello? If a person loses “it”, and the “it” that a person loses is “mental health”, finding “it” again is “recovery” of that “mental health”. Dig!

SAMHSA has a set of principles to prop up its, what I’d call dysfunctional, definition.

Principles of Recovery

• Person-driven;
• Occurs via many pathways;
• Is holistic;
• Is supported by peers;
• Is supported through relationships;
• Is culturally-based and influenced;
• Is supported by addressing trauma;
• Involves individual, family, and community strengths and responsibility;
• Is based on respect; and
• Emerges from hope.

There is a much simpler formulation of principles than this set. Mental health treatment center = mental disorder labeling factory; recovery = passage through a door to the world beyond.

Recovery, as redefined by SAMHSA, has become the opium of the mental patient or the mental health services consumer. No longer is the goal of treatment seen as a complete recovery of mental health, instead the goal is seen as this vague process that leads nowhere. The goal is no longer to recover the health lost due to a serious affliction; the goal is now to consume that mental health treatment that calls itself recovery perpetually. Recovery has become for many people labeled “mentally ill” what heaven is to the superstitious, and what a classless society is to an Marxist ideologue, that elusive pea in a huckster’s shell game. Recovery, in this sense, is about the fulfillment of the falsity of a false hope, or self-betrayal (self-deceit).

Real recovery is a process, and this process has a beginning, middle, and an end. The end of this process is the recovered state, past tense, which comes with a cessation of treatment.

SAMHSA has gone so far as to identify 4 major domains that support recovery, unfortunately common sense is not one of those domains.

• Health: overcoming or managing one’s disease(s) as well as living in a physically and emotionally healthy way;
• Home: a stable and safe place to live that supports recovery;
• Purpose: meaningful daily activities, such as a job, school, volunteerism, family caretaking, or creative endeavors, and the independence, income and resources to participate in society; and
• Community: relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope.

The problem here is that “managing” is what happens when the “disease” is deemed beyond one’s capacity to “overcome”. You let “managing” in, and for a growing number of people, “overcoming” becomes more and more elusive. Somebody has more or less drawn a line in the sand between those people who can, and those people who can’t, “overcome”. If recovery meant overcoming here, we’d have a problem.

Home translates into housing. Housing is what the growing homeless population is lacking. All homeless people are not labeled “mentally ill”, neither are all people labeled “mentally ill” homeless. The way to recovery (dictionary meaning, not SAMHSA’s) from homelessness is through the provision of decent affordable housing with no strings attached. Housing first programs are programs that manage to provide this type of housing, and the amazing thing about it is, in contrast to more tyrannical programs, they actually work.

When psycho-social rehabilitation is a manner of treating people parenthetically, that is, of taking the meaning and purpose out of daily activities, for example, assigning people tasks to perform without providing payment for those tasks, it is very much a part of the problem. This is where the missing common sense comes in, and its glaring absence speaks volumes. Escape from the parenthesis, walk through the door, and–guess what?–sense applies again.

Community is the reason some people wind up undergoing mental health treatment. Then the problem becomes when your community is a community of people undergoing mental health treatment you have a very limited sense of community. These relationships and social networks have to extend beyond the treatment community to be very effective. I think that this is an important point that SAMHSA should make, that SAMHSA isn’t making.

As for the definition of recovery, I don’t think you can beat the 1st sense given at yourdictionary.com.

1. the act or an instance of recovering; specif.,
      a. a regaining of something lost or stolen
      b. a return to health, consciousness, etc.
      c. a regaining of balance, control, composure, etc.
      d. a retrieval of a capsule, nose cone, etc. after a spaceflight or launch
      e. the removal of valuable substances from waste material, byproducts, etc.

If we think of a regaining of lost or stolen health, or a regaining of lost or stolen mind, same thing.

SAMHSA is crazy, and this is a big part of the problem. If SAMHSA wasn’t crazy, SAMHSA would realize that you don’t have to make the English language nonsensical. In fact, making the English language nonsensical impedes communications, and communication is important when it comes to, let’s not use the word recovery, overcoming “mental illness” labeling. Making the English language nonsensical though makes sense when what you’re really after is confusing the issue. All these disability “workers” that disable with SAMHSA are set for life if they can confuse the issue sufficiently.

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