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.

9 Responses

  1. I thought that one of the things we learned about TeenScreen is that no matter how you answer the questions, psychiatry is going to determine that you need drugs. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    • TeenScreen isn’t so likely to recommend drugs unless you’ve had a bad day, and grown grumpy or something. There’s no cheat sheet to these tests. Honesty, on a mental health test, is not the best policy. They’re not asking you, “Who was America’s first President?” They’re actually asking you, “Do you need psychiatric treatment?” If you are feeling down, the best approach is to lie, and to say that you are feeling quite good. America, more or less, has a one track approach to problems in living. That one track approach is to call any problems symptomatic of “disease”, and to prescribe psychiatric drugs for the maintenance of those “symptoms”. Is TeenScreen being used to sell psychiatric drugs to kids? Quite frankly, yes. What the neighborhood crack pusher can’t achieve with the local schoolchildren, the mental health screening program can achieve with ease and facility. I say just say no to mental health screening and the psychiatric drugs that come with it. There is a double standard involved here that school officials are fain to acknowledge. It doesn’t matter whether the drug is cocaine or Prozac, school children should not be taking psychotrophic drugs!

      • No, I’m referring to the Freudian logic here: If you arrive late for the appointment, you’re passive aggressive, if you arrive early you’re anxious, and if you arrive on time, you’re obsessive. TeenScreen is like that. No matter what you answer, you’re going to have a problem that needs help.

        I aced an MMPI one time when I was locked up in the psych ward. My answers got me a perfect line right smack dab in the middle of the lines for “normalcy”. You know what? Because I had aced it, I still had a problem. It’s impossible to win with these people. They’re best left alone.

  2. Here’s a theory:
    1.) Shrinks are narcissists.
    2.) Narcissism is an overcompensation for self hatred.
    3.) Since shrinks have no respect for themselves they have no respect for people that would give them the time of day.

    In other words, a shrink thinks that anyone who is stupid enough to believe them is potentially dangerous and should be drugged.

    • The problem, as I see it, is with medical model psychiatry. First, maybe most psychiatrists are bad unwittingly, but psychiatrists think that what they’re doing is a good thing. Second, it is possible, although highly unlikely, that a person could stumble upon a truly good psychiatrist of the order of Drs T.Szasz, P. Breggin, L. Mosher, etc., if that person were lucky.

      Realism, for me, is recognising that people have had, are having, and will have breakdowns. (Nervous breakdown, by the way, is a word that has been excised from the biological psychiatrist’s professional lexicon.) They will experience burn out, ‘overwhelm’, or whatever you want to call it. Biological medical model psychiatrists have pathogized human distress, and this morphing of social distress into “disease” is a fiction. Calling a fish a mountain doesn’t make a fish a mountain. There is absolutely no science behind calling negative emotion (e.g. sorrow, anxiety) “disease”. That said, somebody is going to have to deal with the messes that certain people can make for themselves. The problem is that in most instances where that somebody is a psychiatrist that somebody isn’t a caring individual. Caring people don’t assail, imprison, and torture other people, and then turn around and call the assault, imprisonment, and torture therapy.

      If the good psychiatrist is a very rare psychiatrist, all the same, I’m not willing, at this point in time, to go so far as to say that the only good shrink is a dead shrink. Doing so could have serious legal repercussions, if not for me, for somebody else.

  3. As for dead shrinks, I figure if you can and you want to then do it. But think it through beforehand. What will it get you? Will it strengthen the power of your local shrinks? Do you want to avoid detection or do you want to make a statement?

    • I don’t think there are a lot of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors shooting psychiatrists. I do know of a few incidents where this kind of thing has happened, but they are the exception, and not the rule. You’ve got a whole lot more cases of law enforcement officers shooting people for acting strange. If you looked, the number of those cases are probably increasing. When the police do this, because they are dealing with a marginalized population without a lot of charisma, they get off scot free way too often. I wouldn’t encourage shooting the police either. Here in Florida, it is a felony to touch one when he or she is detaining you.

      Ironically, as I pointed out in an earlier post, you’ve got people who are using these incidents to try to institute involuntary outpatient commitment laws (usually forced drugging). I have serious doubts that enacting outpatient commitment laws will effect the numbers of people killed by the police for acting weird. The last time I looked weird was not a capital offense. We could do something about this situation by holding police officers more accountable for their actions, but then you’d have to punish officers who kill people for next to nothing.

  4. They can fit you in anywhere with that book the DSM-IV that is their manual. I got diagnosed with having a caffeine illness!!! I mean it is just flat out crazy. Whats even worse is that they are making the new DSM-V which has things on there as having a internet addiction, and iphone problem. And the solution to this? MEDICATE YOU. These drugs have some serious side effects. All these kids are getting put on aderall (not sure how you spell that) its basically crystal meth. AND, there is NO CURE for any of these diseases. After taking these meds for so long it will do damage to the human body and brain.
    I recently went to this museum, and it talks about psychiatry and how it has evolved. I will post the website. I do warn however that some of the videos are not for the faint of heart, but as you get to end of the videos it shows exactly where we are today and where its going. I mean this Teenscreen stuff is crazy. No matter what you say. You need medication. AND i mean there are NO DIAGNOSTIC tests you can do to even diagnose someone with these so called diseases they say you have. Its just questions. People need to be aware of whats going on. I hope yall will pass this website along. And if you live in the area, visit the place.

    http://www.cchr.org/

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