September 8, 2004
Alert! Universal Mental Health Screening Amendment
SUPPORT CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL'S AMENDMENT TO
CUT OFF FUNDS FOR UNIVERSAL
MENTAL HEALTH SCREENING
Karen R. Effrem, MD
EdAction Board of Directors
Physician and Republican Congressman Ron Paul will offer an amendment prohibiting funding for universal mental health screening programs to Labor/Health and Human Services/Education appropriations bill, HR 5006, to be debated on the US House floor on Wednesday and Thursday, September 8th and 9th. It is urgent that you call your Member of Congress and the House leadership TODAY with your support of the Paul amendment:
EdAction strongly supports this type of amendment, as does a broad coalition
of education, family, and medical/mental health groups. The long list includes
Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, the Association of American Physicians
and Surgeons, Gun Owners of America, the Liberty Committee, the Alliance for
Human Research Protection, the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry
and Psychology, and Freedom 21.
Universal mental health screening and the drugging of children, as recommended by the New Freedom Commission, needs to be stopped so that many thousands if not millions of children will be saved from receiving stigmatizing diagnoses that would follow them for the rest of their lives. America’s school children should not be medicated by expensive, ineffective, and dangerous medications based on vague and dubious diagnoses.
Use the following talking points. . (For more details on each of these points, see http://edaction.org/2004/082704.htm and http://www.edaction.org/2003/030827.htm):
1) Parental rights are unclear or non-existent under these screening programs.
- What are the rights of youth and their parents to refuse or opt out of this screening? Will they face coercion and threats of removal from school or child abuse/neglect charges if they refuse? How reliable are the screening instruments? What if the diagnosis is wrong? How will a child or adolescent remove a stigmatizing label from their records that could follow them the rest of their lives? Will parents be honestly told about the potentially severe side effects of the medications used in treatment?
2) Parents are already being coerced to put their children on psychiatric medications and some children are dying because of it. -
Universal screening and the accompanying treatments recommended by the New Freedom Commission will only increase that problem. Both Matthew Smith and Shaina Dunkle died of medication toxicity after their parents were coerced to place their children on drugs by the schools. Across the country, Patricia Weathers, the Carroll Family, the Johnston Family, and the Salazar Family were all charged or threatened with child abuse charges for refusing or taking their children off of psychiatric medications.
3) Merging screening with the academic standards required by No Child Left Behind, as is happening in Illinois, will lead to diagnosis for political reasons.
- School mental health and violence prevention programs funded by NCLB and government counterterrorism operations are already using such criteria as “homophobia” and “defenders of the US Constitution against federal government and the UN” to label school children and US citizens as mentally unstable and violent.
4) Mental health screening does not prevent suicide.
- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against screening for suicide, saying, “USPSTF found no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality. There is limited evidence on the accuracy of screening tools to identify suicide risk in the primary care setting, including tools to identify those at high risk.” (See http://www.ahrp.org/infomail/04/05/21.html)
5) Mental health diagnoses are “subjective” and “social constructions”
as admitted by the authors of the diagnostic manuals themselves.
6) Most psychiatric medications do not work in children
– Medical textbooks, published and unpublished research, and government reports consistently state that the long term safety and effectiveness of antidepressants like Prozac and stimulants like Ritalin have yet to be proven.
7) The side effects of these medications in children are severe.
– They include suicide, violence, psychosis, cardiac (heart) toxicity, growth suppression, and diabetes. Several school shooters, like Eric Harris (Columbine), Kip Kinkel (Oregon), and Jason Hoffman (San Diego) were on antidepressants or stimulants or both at the time of their crimes.