Majoring in mental illness?

Researchers are striving to catch potential future nutcases at younger and younger ages. In yesterday’s post, the suggestion was made that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was actually a school adjustment problem. I would extend this suggestion to include most of the other mental disorder labels given to children and young people these days as well.

The Medical News website has a story up now about researchers searching for signs of mental illness in elementary school students. This article is entitled Researchers study prevalence of psychiatric disorders in early elementary school years. This is where the situation gets really hairy. When you’ve got kids going from hardly any schooling at all to full time get down to business school work, of course, there are going to be rocky points in their transition.

Social competence and behavior problems that are evident at kindergarten and first grade are known to be strong predictors of a child’s academic and social functioning. However, findings reported in the July issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggest that psychosocial risk factors can be identified even earlier and can be observed during the transition from preschool to formal schooling.

The germ of later madness then has been detected in some elementary school students. Right, and “transition from preschool to formal schooling” doesn’t suggest school adjustment issues!?

Dr. [Alice] Carter and colleagues report that as children transition to formal schooling, approximately one in five (21.6%) will have a psychiatric disorder with impairment. The findings confirm that the prevalence of psychopathology during the transition to school age is not dissimilar to that documented for preschool-aged children.

I think the prevalence of preschool age children with psychiatric disorders is a very recent phenomenom unless, of course, you mean children afflicted with the terrible twos.

Are we not playing a form of odd child out here? 5 is an odd number, allowing for slightly more sociability than would the number 3. Researchers are not, after all, being so over zealous as they would be if they were claiming 1 in every 3 kids was a potential nutjob. Doing so would seem outrageous. Nonetheless, I suspect a little over zeolousness is at work in this kind of thing.

Nobody said how many of these children are on their way to being labeled ADHD. Again, I think we have mostly school adjustment problems.

In addition, the risk of comorbidity (the risk of two or more disorders of any type) was 5.8%. Within the study cohort, the prevalence of externalizing disorders was 13.8% and 11.1% for internalizing disorders. Of those individuals who had more than one disorder, more than 60% had both an externalizing and an internalizing disorder.

Compounding disorders, how convenient? If we didn’t have you before, we’ve got you now. Compound disorder on top of disorder, and you’ve got your kid by the scruff of the neck. Boy, but you’re fucked up, 3 or 4 disorders, just count them. Now try untangling that fine mess.

Yep, ‘chronic’ means not in my lifetime, sonny.

The question then arises, why can’t we just let kids be kids? Oh, I know, because without intrusive invasive studies of this kind they might not grow into the complete nutcases you’re going to get in the future due to this sort of singling out process. Without such nutcases, where would your mental health workers, your drug company employees, and your psychiatric researchers be? Pursuing another career option no doubt.

1 in 5 then, can we afford to lose that many students to a career in mental illness? I see the writing on the wall. I see it coming. Are taxpayers willing to subsidize that many users of the broken brain excuse? Really! Okay, and for how long? The wacko population is rapidly expanding. Sooner or later, as we’re talking long term disability payments here, this situation is going to spell economic collapse!

This is way up there with anti-stigma campaign advertisements for mental illness. You know the ones…Don’t knock us, join us. People with mental illness don’t have enough friends. You can befriend a mentally ill person today by freaking out, and getting a diagnosis all your own. Whoopee! Mental illness is here to stay!

As I’ve tried to point out, over and over again, the objective of mental health treatment should be to get more and more people out of treatment. Leaving treatment is synonymous with mental health recovery. When more people are entering treatment than are leaving it, the number of people labeled mentally ill is increasing. When people are entering treatment in much greater numbers than they are leaving it, progress is not being made.