A Lobbying Campaign for Screening Children for Mental Problems

A Lobbying Campaign for Screening Children for Mental Problems–a Gimmick Aimed at Increasing PhRMA Profits

Wed, 11 May 2005

The big guns of America’s mental health establishment — including the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill — are making united front in support of mass mental health screening of American children–as recommended in the New Freedom Commission report. Get the facts:
http://www.ahrp.org/infomail/04/10/31.php

The stakeholders in this campaign (see below) have a financial interest in inflating the roster of children and adults who get labeled “mentally ill”– employment for their members, increased budgets from pharmaceutical donations and government grants, and power. This unholy coalition of special interest groups is lobbying Congress in opposition to Congressman Ron Paul’s efforts to stop this Orwellian initiative by denying federal funding for it.

Cong. Ron Paul’s bill, HR 181: “The Parental Consent Act of 2005” strikes a vital blow for parents who oppose government interference with their parental authority, and strengthens the fundamental right of parents to direct and control the upbringing and education of their children. This bill already has 33 co-sponsors. http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul232.html

Congress is beginning to act to reverse the dangerous and tryannical trend of schools requiring the drugging of children in order to receive an education. In the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal special education law, schools can no longer require that special education students be forcibly drugged with powerful controlled substances like Ritalin and Adderall in order to be in school or receive services.

A separate bill that would would have afforded that same protection to all students passed the US House 425-1, but was blocked in the Senate by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who appeared to be acting at the behest of the pharmaceutical lobby.

An expanded version of that bill was introduced by Rep. John Kline (R-MN) on April 21st of this year. This legislation would prohibit coercion by schools to require that ANY student be on ANY psychotropic drug. This bill would cover not only controlled substances like Ritalin, but also antidepressants like Prozac that are associated with suicide, violence, and severe withdrawal, as well as antipsychotic medications that cause diabetes in youngsters. This legislation already has 18 co-sponsors and is a priority of the NAACP for this session of Congress.

Needless to say, the huge amount of lobbying resources available to the organizations lobbying against parental right to say no–have the backing of the pharmaceutical industry.

Criticisms of President Bush’s New Freedom Commission’s recommendations for mass mental health screening of Americans have come from numerous quarters: parents, physicians, academics, journalists, civil and human rights groups.

Critics have pointed out:

  • the stigmatizing nature of screening efforts
  • the dubious scientific bases of population screening for disorders with uncertain, in-the-beholder’s-eye conditions
  • the lack of attention to potential harm from screening
  • the intimate involvement of the pharmaceutical industry in the promotion of screening
  • the use of screening as a barely-disguised maneuver to increase the number of people taking psychotropic medications such as antidepressants, despite their demonstrated ineffectiveness with children and their huge off-label prescription by physicians.

The story of Aliah, a 13- year-old girl, perfectly illustrates the outcome of mental health screening of children.

After psychologists from the University of Texas visited her school to conduct a mental health screening for sixth- and seventh-grade girls, Aliah’s life took a dramatic turn.

Over the next year, Aliah spent a total of nine months in a state hospital and residential treatment facilities. In hospital, she was placed in restraints more than 26 times and medicated — against her will and without her parents’ consent–with at least 12 different psychiatric drugs, many of them simultaneously.

Aliah’s story was published in Mother Jones which has graciously provided free access to the entire article, “Medicating Aliah,” to AHRP and AHRP Infomail recipients:
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2005/05/medicating_aliah.html
Use access code: MJZL6Y.

AHRP asks the organizations who support mental health screening of American children and adults to disclose exactly how much financial support they receive from the pharmaceutical industry.

Citizens Organizations for Ron Paul’s Parental Rights bill, HR 181, do not take money from drug companies:

Able Child:
http://ablechild.org/newsarchive/guest_opinion%20screening%20and%20drugging%20children%207-26-04.htm

American Association of Physicians and Surgeons:
http://www.aapsonline.org/confiden/mhspaul.htm

Concerned Women for America
http://www.illinoisleader.com/news/newsview.asp?c=24021

Eagle Forum
http://www.eagleforum.org/psr/2005/mar05/psrmar05.html

EdAcation.org:
http://edaction.org/2004/082704.htm

International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP)
http://icspp.org/content/view/94/44/

Psych Rights:
http://psychrights.org/States/Illinois/BMJonIllScreening.htm

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
http://www.naacp.org/inc/docs/washington/109/109th_legislative_priorities.pdf

We Hold these Truths:
http://www.weholdthesetruths.org/Civil-human-legal/Articles/screening-childrenl.htm

the Liberty Committee:
http://www.thelibertycommittee.org/update09.07.04.htm

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
212-595-8974

Campaign Partners for screening American children for mental disorders:

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • American Psychiatric Association . American Psychological Association
  • CHADD – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
  • Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (FFCMH)
  • Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
  • National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
  • National Association of County Behavioral Health Directors (NACBHD)
  • National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)
  • National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (NCCBH)
  • National Empowerment Center (NEC)
  • National Mental Health Association (NMHA)
  • National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse
  • Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPANUSA)
  • United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA)