Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mental Health Smoke Screen

When an e-mail came to me the other day about mental health screening in public schools, I was immediately concerned. Unlike other types like vision and hearing, mental health screening is unusually invasive for the child, can easily lead to inappropriate labeling at a very young age and sets up an adversarial relationship between parents and schools when disagreements on diagnoses and treatment arise. It is a terrible idea. So imagine my surprise to find it is part of a Federal recommendation from the Bush administration's New Freedom Initiative and New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Where are you George Orwell?

Come to find out it only gets worse. It seems the state of Texas has been test marketing the mental health project for a decade - in it's prisons and state mental health hospitals. T-MAP stands for Texas Medication Algorithm Project. It has been providing the roadmap by which Texas institutions treat their mentally ill through the testing of new and more aggressive psychiatropic drugs, supplied by all the major pharmaceutical companies and paid for by the taxpayers, all the while lining the pockets of the drug companies and the state legislators who voted to fund T-MAP. And big surprise, who was governor of Texas at the time of its inception, GWBush. They have also test marketed the program in other states, most notably Pennsylvania when Tom Ridge was governor.

Now they are ready to take their show to the national level by screening and then medicating our nation's children. This despite hard data showing the correlation between higher risk of death by side-effect and suicide from these newer and more aggressive drugs, especially in children and teens. Whistleblower Allen Jones paints a pretty clear picture of the disconnect between the use and effectiveness of the drugs, the death rate increase, and the money trail.

US Representative Ron Paul of Texas tried to get congress to reconsider this dangerous assault on our children, our privacy and individual liberties, as well as the enormous cost, leaching funds from already seriously underfunded programs. He was unsuccessful, but there is still time to let our representatives, both state and federal, know we do not want our children used as labrats for the drug companies, nor do we want the government intruding so recklessly in our personal lives.

UPDATE - The trial of Rush Limbaugh is fast approaching and in advance of the judges order to hand his medical records over to prosecutors, let's listen to Limbaugh's attorney - "Nobody wants their intimate medical problems broadcast to the state. I mean, it's the ultimate invasion of privacy," Black said. Ditto