Federal Funding for Mental Health Screening of Kids
June 27, 2005
On Friday Congress defeated an amendment I introduced that would have prevented the federal government from moving forward with an Orwellian program to mandate mental health screening of kids in schools. This program, recommended by a presidential commission, has not yet been established at the federal level. However, your tax dollars are being given to states that apply for grants to establish their own programs-- and a full-fledged program run by the Department of Health and Human Services is on the way.
100 members of Congress supported my amendment. Many of these members represent Texas and Illinois, two
states that already have mental health screening programs in place.
They have heard from their constituents, who believe intimate mental
health problems should be addressed by parents, kids, and their doctors- not the
government. These parents do not
appreciate yet another government program that undermines their parental
psychiatric establishment and the pharmaceutical industry of course support
government mental health screening programs in schools, because they both stand
to benefit from millions of new customers.
But we should not allow self-interested industries to use a government
program to create a captive audience for their products.
We should be especially careful about medicating children with
psychotropic drugs when their brains are still developing.
Far too many children are being stigmatized by dubious diagnoses like
Attention Deficit Disorder, and placed on drugs simply because they exhibit
behavior that we used to understand as restlessness or rambunctious horseplay.
This is especially true of young boys, who cannot thrive in our
increasingly feminized government schools.
Sadly, many parents and teachers find it easier to drug energetic boys
than discipline them.
Karen R. Effrem, a pediatrician and leading opponent of government mental health
screening, makes the following points about such programs:
rights under such programs are at best unclear, at worst nonexistent;
parents already have been forced by schools to put their children on
psychotropic drugs, and this surely will accelerate under a federal screening
programs do not prevent suicide;
diagnoses are inherently subjective and based on “social constructions”;
psychiatric drugs do not work in children;
do not know the long-term consequences of using psychiatric drugs on children;
programs will be influenced by politics. Children of religious parents, for
example, risk being labeled “homophobic.”
Certainly there are legitimate organic mental illnesses, but that does not mean it is the role of government to subject every child to arbitrary screening without the consent of parents. Most Americans still understand that certain things are none of the government’s business, even if Congress does not. If you are a parent, do everything you can to protect your children by demanding to be notified of any screening program in their schools. As a voter, let your state and federal legislators know that you don’t want tax dollars spent on mental health screening programs. If we act now, we still can prevent the federal government from creating a nationwide, mandatory program that will place millions of American youngsters into a stigmatized, drugged, mental health ghetto.