Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Screening teens is a terrible idea

Scientific American blogger John Horgan writes:
“Support for screening teens is increasing along with recognition of the role mental-health checkups can play in improving mental health,” Wall Street Journal health columnist Laura Landro remarked in a story on TeenScreen. Although her report is largely positive, Landro does mention that school screening programs “aren’t without controversy. Some groups oppose them, arguing that they interfere with issues that should be the domain of the family and lead to over-prescription of psychiatric medications.”

Indeed. Given the recent trend toward prescribing powerful, profitable and potentially harmful psychiatric medications to children in the U.S., I fear that TeenScreen and similar programs may end up hurting more children than they help. ...

Mental illness is devastating for children as well as adults, and medication, when used wisely and sparingly, can help. But clearly our current approach to treating disturbed young people is broken. Let me give Whitaker the last word: “Twenty years ago, our society began regularly prescribing psychiatric drugs to children and adolescents, and now one out of every fifteen Americans enters adulthood with a ‘serious mental illness.’ That is proof of the most tragic sort that our drug-based paradigm of care is doing a great deal more harm than good.”
The Phyllis Schlafly Report criticized TeenScreen in 2005.

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