May 3

Almost 50% of teens Screened for Mental Health Were Referred for Psychiatric Intervention

The Video National Public Radio: “This is a program that has some very vocal critics. They say Teenscreen usurps parental authority, sends kids to therapy who might not need it and they say the program encourages families to put adolescents on antidepressant drugs.”

The following evidence confirms the validity to our concerns about TeenScreen serving as a dragnet for the pharmaceutical and mental illness industry, confirming the identity of the stakeholders who promote TeenScreen and label children as mentally ill.

A news report from Plattsburgh, NY indicates that: a pilot screening is a project of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)–a pharmaceutical front organization that receives millions of dollars from drug companies. (The article indicates many other agencies are also involved, but none are named).   Consent forms authorizing children’s screeing were mailed to parents of 185 sophomores. However, only 92 forms were returned–of these, 47 parents chose not to give consent.

Out of 46 teenagers who were screened using the Columbia University-TeenScreen mental-health questionnaire at school, 20 were deemed to be mentally ill and “were referred for intervention of some kind.”  That means that almost 50% of teens screened were “identified” as mentally ill and in need of “intervention.”

Before screening, Mary Anne Cox who coordinated the TeenScreen project for NAMI, notes: “only seven of those Plattsburgh High School sophomores had seen professionals” for mental health issues. After screening, 20 previously undiagnosed teenagers were deemed to require psychiatric “interventions.”

To try the test for yourself, see the actual screening questionnaires at Liberty Coalition:

The San Francisco Chronicle reports: “Local public schools have resisted TeenScreen. San Francisco Unified School District, for example, passed on TeenScreen because it can generate false positives and drain counseling resources. Other critics worry TeenScreen could send kids unnecessarily into treatment and land too many on psychiatric drugs.” See: Parents reflect, schools mobilize to curb suicide – Ilene Lelchuk, Erin Allday, Monday, January 22, 2007


  1. Read the questions and decide whether they are suggestive, manipulative, and dangerously tampering with the self-image of impressionable adolescents. You be the judge:
    “would you want your child labeled for life as mentally ill on the basis of this screening test?”
  2. See the video: “TeenScreen: A National Fraud”
  3. Sign the petition to Stop TeenScreen’s Unscientific and Experimental “Mental Health Screening” of American School Children:
  4. Pass the video on to all your friends and tell them to sign the petition!

First-time mental-health screening identifies need
By: Suzanne Moore
Staff Writer
January 28, 2007

PLATTSBURGH — The first local teen mental-health screening resulted in almost half the participants — 20 out of 46 — being referred for intervention of some kind.

Only seven of those Plattsburgh High School sophomores had seen professionals for the issues the screening revealed, said Mary Anne Cox, who coordinated the Columbia TeenScreen project for National Alliance on Mental Illness: Champlain Valley (NAMI).

“What that’s telling me,” she said, “is there are kids who are anxious and depressed, (and) no one was aware that they were having problems.”

Among them, Cox said, was one suicide attempt that had never been reported to anyone — the student hadn’t had any mental-health intervention. Five others had also tried to end their lives by suicide, she reported.

A growing incidence of childhood mental illness, along with an increased number of suicides by teens and young adults over the past few years, prompted the pilot screening, which is mostly funded by Eastern Adirondack Health Care Network and is a project of NAMI and many other agencies.

These first results, while not a large sampling, confirm the need for widespread evaluation, Adelman said. As well, she said emphatically, they reveal the barrier that stigma puts up between a potentially fatal disease and the treatment that can save a child’s life.  “We never realized how big the wall was until we did the screening,” she said.

Parents of 185 sophomores returned only 92 consent forms, even though Cox distributed them both in school and mailed second copies to those families who did not return the first ones.

More significant, she and Adelman said, was that of the 92 that did come in, 47 parents chose not to give consent.
They had expected participation from about half the class.

The primary goal of the screening, designed by Columbia University and widely used throughout the country, was to identify indicators of anxiety, depression and possible suicide.

Among the 45 participants, seven tested positive for generalized anxiety, with the same number doing so for depression.
Seven students admitted to thoughts of suicide.

Other results revealed students afflicted with social phobias and others with panic or obsessive/compulsive issues.
Some students tested positive for more than one indicator, Cox said.

Students who did test positive for any issue included in the computer screening were immediately evaluated further by Cox, who is a licensed clinical social worker, or another mental-health professional.

A few problems had quick resolution. One student’s depression was related to bullying by other students, a situation the school was able to address.

Another teen had been on the verge of tangling with the law due to behaviors the screening identified as related to emotional problems. Now, he would get help, Cox said.

Three tests turned out to be false positives.

Except for the students already in treatment, all the others received referrals for further evaluation.
Among them, it was suggested six teens see in-school counselors and at least four others seek a higher level of treatment.
Parents of one teen didn’t want to follow up, Cox said. And some adopted an attitude of “wait and see.”
She encourages otherwise.

“If you don’t take your child (for evaluation) and there is a problem, you’re running a risk of things getting much worse and it getting more difficult to treat,” she said. “You have nothing to lose by getting your kid evaluated.”

The screening just taps at the door of mental-health awareness regarding young people, Cox said, especially with the low participation rate.

Columbia TeenScreen doesn’t cover all the bases, she emphasized.
“It doesn’t ask specifically about bulimia, anorexia, self-mutilation.”

In the spring, PHS eighth-graders will have the opportunity to take part, with the pilot program continuing next school year with the same two populations.

NAMI hoped to expand to other schools for 2007-08 but has found the screening is more labor intensive than anticipated and needs to iron out funding for that extra work.

Cox hopes the results of the sophomore screening and the education that went with it will increase participation in the next round.

A productive outcome of the first session is increased awareness by school staff, she said.

And the students themselves, for the most part, found the screening no big deal.

A few felt the personal questions were a bit uncomfortable, Cox said.

“Mostly it was positive, ranging from OK to good to thought provoking.”

One student wrote, “It was something that made me feel a little better because I was thinking of what has been going on and was able to express myself and my feelings without getting in trouble.”

“I would say the results suggest that we really have to pay attention to kids’ emotional well-being as well as their physical well-being,” Cox said, “and ask them from time to time about it.”

That’s how she left it with the students.

“If you’re having problems, we want to make sure you know help is available to you,” she told them. “You don’t have to be alone.”

common disorders
A child who experiences excessive fear, worry, or uneasiness may have an anxiety disorder. These include:

Generalized anxiety disorder: pattern of excessive, unrealistic worry that cannot be attributed to any recent experience.

Phobias: unrealistic and overwhelming fears of objects or situations.

Panic disorder: terrifying panic attacks with physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat and dizziness.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder: pattern of repeated thoughts and behaviors, such as counting or hand washing.

Post-traumatic stress disorder: flashbacks and other symptoms. Occurs in children who have experienced a psychologically distressing event, such as abuse.

Severe depression: Child often feels sad or worthless, loses interest in playing or schoolwork. Appetite and sleeping patterns may change; child may have vague physical complaints, believe he or she is ugly or have general hopelessness. Possible risk of suicide.

Bipolar disorder in adolescents: Teen has exaggerated mood swings with moderate mood in between. During extreme highs (excited or manic phases), person may talk nonstop, need little sleep and show poor judgment. At the low end of the mood swing is severe depression.

Early onset bipolar disorder in children: Children usually have an ongoing, continuous mood disturbance that is a mix of mania and depression. Cycling between moods produces chronic irritability and few clear periods of wellness between episodes. Behaviors may include rapidly changing moods; explosive, lengthy and often destructive rages; separation anxiety; defiance of authority; hyperactivity; little or too much sleep; bed wetting; night terrors; impulsivity; racing thoughts; dare-devil behaviors; delusions and hallucinations. (From Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation)

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Child is unable to focus attention, is often impulsive and easily distracted. Most have difficulty remaining still, taking turns and keeping quiet. Symptoms must be evident in at least two settings.

Conduct disorder: Child has little concern for others and repeatedly violates the rules of society. Offenses, such as lying, theft, aggression, arson, vandalism, often grow more serious over time.

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD): Child has great difficulty forming lasting, loving relationships due to neglect, or other abuse. Symptoms include a severe need to control everything and everyone; frequent tantrums or rage, often over trivial issues; demanding or clingy, often at inappropriate times; trouble understanding cause and effect; lacks morals, values, and spiritual faith; little or no empathy. (From

Anorexia nervosa: difficulty maintaining a minimum healthy body weight.

Bulimia nervosa: child binges (eat huge amounts of food in one sitting) then rids body of the food by vomiting, abusing laxatives, taking enemas or exercising obsessively.

Schizophrenia: Includes psychotic periods that may involve hallucinations, withdrawal from others and loss of contact with reality. Delusional or disordered thoughts, inability to experience pleasure.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, unless otherwise noted.

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