(NaturalNews) Depression in adolescents appears to be a serious and growing problem in this country, but is mental health screening the answer? Or does the appropriation of a label merely serve to drop a possibly troubled kid into psychiatry's default position of "let's fix this problem with a pill"?
Mental health screening of adolescents was conceived under the guise of a program, first launched during the Bush administration, called "TeenScreen." This program has now found itself a home in approximately 600 locations across the U.S., including school health classes, school-based health clinics and community agencies.
According to a recent report released by the CDC, 1 in 25 adolescents (aged 12 to 17) are now prescribed drugs for depression. There is every reason to suspect this number is increasing under TeenScreen, and that it will continue to rise.
Mental health screening's very foundation is deeply flawed
The goal of TeenScreen is to screen every school-aged child before graduation for "suicide" and "mental disorders" using a computer survey. Those considered "at risk" are then recommended for treatment. The label placed on your child is one that could stick with him or her for life regardless of its validity.
It should not surprise us to learn that the money line for funding of this ill-conceived program can be traced directly to the pharmaceutical drug industry. Members of the industry also assisted in the development of the questionnaire our young people are asked to fill out.
Based on the answers the child gives, he or she is then sent on to a "clinician" who considers which label to attach to the child, such as conduct disorder, avoidant personality disorder, mathematics disorder, reading disorder, disorder of written expression, nightmare disorder, general anxiety disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, factious disorder, as well as numerous other "disorders."
According to critics of this process, there can be an 84 to 94% chance the student will walk away being falsely labeled as "suicidal" or "mentally ill," something TeenScreen fails to disclose. However, because the real agenda simply appears to be more "pill pushing," a false positive carries not just a false label, but with it a prescription for a drug carrying a black box warning of increased risk of suicide!
No individual behind the development of TeenScreen has come forward with evidence to demonstrate that the "assessment" made of these students is even the least bit effective. Thus far, the statistics show one-third of the subjects being flagged as "positive" for having mental health problems; and 50% of those so flagged were recommended for mental health treatment. If this system, which already appears to be woefully inaccurate, is set loose on the more than 50 million public school students in the U.S., it would mean affixing a label to more than 17 million American children and putting 8 million-plus into the hands of the psychiatric/drug industry.
For decades we placed a great deal of emphasis on teaching our children to "just say no to drugs" only to turn around now and officially welcome the pharmaceutical drug industry back into their lives, giving full access to the kids and the frightening ability to assign false labels to millions of them. Parental rights, of course, remain ambiguous at best under TeenScreen guidelines; and with each decision that is removed from the parents' control, it is a decision we may never get back.
About the author: Paula Rothstein is a freelance writer and certified holistic health coach active in the area of natural health and health freedom advocacy. As a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she has gained insight into the political nature of food, the failings of a drug-dependent healthcare system, and the uniqueness of individual health. For more information, please visit: http://www.twincitieshealthcoaching.com.