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Exposing President Bush’s Plans for Massive Psychiatric Screening of the USA Wins a “Project Censored” Alternative Media Award
Project Censored is considered the “alternative Pulitzer Prize” by some journalists. This Saturday, 22 Oct., Project Censored awarded the “Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006” — important news that mainstream media covers up.
Number 11 in the Top 25 is journalist Jeanne Lenzer whose series of articles in the _British Medical Journal_ showed how President Bush is calling for “mental health screening” for children and adults in the USA in a plan that could result in hundreds of thousands of more citizens being placed on psychiatric drugs without adequate protection of human rights.
Even though President Bush calls for making this psychiatric screening “common practice” throughout the USA the corporate mainstream media has largely refused to inform their readers.
BELOW is the forwarded announcement from Project Censored including an UPDATE from Jeanne Lenzer:
#11 Universal Mental Screening Program
Usurps Parental Rights
Asheville Global Report (British Medical
Journal), No. 284, June 24-30, 2004
Title: “Bush Plans To Screen Whole U.S. Population For Mental Illness”
Author: Jeanne Lenzer
Truth News, September 13,2004
Title: “Forcing Kids Into a Mental Health Ghetto”
Congressman Ron Paul
In April of 2002, President Bush appointed a 22 member commission called the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in order to “identify policies that could be implemented by Federal, State and local governments to maximize the utility of existing resources, improve coordination of treatments and services, and promote successful community integration for adults with a serious mental illness and children with a serious emotional disturbance.”1 Members of this commission include physicians in the mental health field and at least one (Robert N. Postlethwait) former employee of pharmaceutical giant Ely Lilly and Co.
In July of 2003 the commission published the results of their study. They found that mental health disorders often go undiagnosed and recommended to the President that there should be more comprehensive screening for mental illnesses for people of all ages, including pre-school age children. In accordance with their findings, the commission recommended that schools were in a “key position” to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adult employees of our nation’s schools.2
The commission also recommended linking the screenings with treatment and support. They recommended using the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a model treatment system.3
TMAP, which was implemented in Texas’ publicly funded mental health care system while George W. Bush was governor of Texas,4
is a disease management program that aids physicians in prescribing drugs to patients based on clinical history, background, symptoms, and previous results. It was the first program in the United States aimed at establishing medication guidelines for treating mental health illnesses.5
Basically, it is an algorithm that recommends specific drugs which should be used to treat specific diseases. Funding for TMAP was provided by a Robert Wood-Johnson Grant as well as several major drug companies. The project began in 1995 as an alliance of individuals from pharmaceutical companies, the University of Texas, and the mental health and corrections systems of Texas.6
Critics of mental health screening and TMAP claim that it is a payoff to Pharmaceutical companies. Many cite Allen Jones, a former employee of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General. He was fired when he revealed that many key officials who have influence over the medication plan in his state received monetary perks and benefits from pharmaceutical companies, which benefited from their drugs being in the medication algorithm. TMAP also promotes the use of newer, more expensive anti-psychotic drugs. Results of studies conducted in the United States and Great Britain found that using the older, more established anti-psychotic drugs as afront line treatment rather than the newer experimental drugs makes more sense. Under TMAP, the Ely Lilly drug olanzapine, a new atypical antipsychotic drug, is used as a first line treatment rather than a more typical anti-psychotic medication. Perhaps it is because Ely Lilly has several ties to the Bush family, where George Bush Sr. was a member of the board of directors. George W. Bush also appointed Ely Lilly C.E.O. Sidney Taurel to a seat on the Homeland Security Council. Of Ely Lilly’s $1.6 million political contributions in 2000, 82 percent went to Republicans and George W. Bush.7
In November of 2004, Congress appropriated $20 million8 to implement the findings of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. This would include mandatory screening by schools for mental health illnesses. Congressman Ron Paul, R-Texas introduced an amendment to the appropriations bills which would withhold funding for mandatory mental health screenings and require parental consent and notification. His amendment, however, was voted down by a wide margin (95-315 in the House of Representatives).9 Paul, a doctor and long-time member of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) states, “At issue is the fundamental right of parents to decide what medical treatment is appropriate for their children. The notion of federal bureaucrats ordering potentially millions of youngsters to take psychotropic drugs like Ritalin strikes an emotional chord with American parents.” Paul says the allegation “that we have a nation of children with undiagnosed mental disorders crying out for treatment is patently false,” and warns that mental health screening could be used to label children whose attitudes, religious beliefs, and political views conflict with established doctrine. Paul further warns that an obvious major beneficiary of this legislation is the pharmaceutical industry. The AAPS has decried this legislation, which they say will lead to mandatory psychological testing of every child in America without parental consent, and “heap even more coercive pressure on parents to medicate children with potentially dangerous side effects.”
Update by Jeanne Lenzer:
Whether it’s the pills we take or the oil we use, it would be reassuring to know that the information used to develop new medicines or to utilize natural resources wisely is based on science–not corporate spin.
But blandishments from Big Pharma to politicians and doctors have a profound effect on health care in the U.S., making medical research closer to propaganda than science at times.
One way drug companies, in collusion with doctors, increase their market share is to expand the definition of diseases. When diagnostic criteria were liberalized for attention deficit disorder in 1991, the number of children diagnosed jumped by about 60 percent.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) acknowledged in the July 2004 issue of Advocacy News that, “The BMJ story has gained some traction in derivative reports on the Internet.” But, they boasted, “mainstream media have not touched the story, in part thanks to APA’s work, for which the [Bush] Administration is appreciative.”10
The APA’s boast is curious. The article was the most downloaded article in the history of the BMJ. It clearly struck a nerve with a public wary of doctors and politicians whose pockets are lined with drug company money.
Given the interest in the BMJ story, it would seem that the APA, instead of attempting to keep the story out of the mainstream media, would be anxious to counter the widely circulated statements in the article. It would also seem that the mainstream press could provide the Administration and the APA the best possible vehicle to counter these supposed factual errors in the BMJ article.
But, the facts might prove difficult to square with the public. More than one in every 100 toddlers and preschoolers in the United States are on powerful psychiatric drugs, such as Ritalin and Prozac, according to a study published in the February 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Joseph T. Coyle, M.D., wrote in an accompanying editorial, “It appears that behaviorally disturbed children are now increasingly subjected to quick and inexpensive pharmacologic fixes, as opposed to informed mutimodal therapy.” He concluded, “These disturbing prescription practices suggest a growing crisis in mental health services to children and demand more thorough investigation.”
But instead of issuing warnings about overmedication or inappropriate prescribing, the experts on the New Freedom Commission warn ominously that too few children are receiving treatment for mental illness. They cite escalating numbers of toddlers expelled from daycare as evidence of potentially serious psychological problems–problems to be diagnosed and cured with mental health screening and pills. Social and economic reasons for the rise in kiddie expulsions are left unexamined.
As bad as this is for those put on drugs and labeled “mentally ill,” the far bigger concern is the creation of a disease for every drug, a situation made possible by the hand-in-glove relationship between industry and the government.
MindFreedom International Statement About Mental Health Screening: 1 Oct 2005
President Bush proposes making “mental health screening” a “common practice” for adults and children.
Here is why MindFreedom International opposes these “mental health screening” programs.
President Bush and his New Freedom Commission on Mental Health recommend screening all Americans for mental health problems starting with youth through their schools. This screening has already started in a number of schools.
We call for the immediate halt to these screening programs. Instead, we call for the implementation of far better alternatives for mental and emotional care.
Until a broken and dangerous mental health system is fixed, mental health screening just adds fuel to the fire.
Screening programs threaten to place hundreds of thousands of American youth on a conveyor belt type approach toward psychiatric labeling and drugging. Current mental health screening programs have specific steps. A screened individual is evaluated for a diagnosis. A diagnosed individual is frequently prescribed psychiatric drugs. For some the end result has even been forced drugging over the objections of the subject and their family (source: Mother Jones 5/05).
The vast majority of Americans want to ensure that troubled kids and adults receive humane and safe help. However, there is ample evidence that the mental health system in the United States is now causing a great deal of harm.
For example, the mental health system is based on a diagnostic labeling system that has been shown to be unscientific.
Also, the Food and Drug Administration has recently acknowledged that anti-depressants carry serious risks to children, adolescents, and adults. Other psychotropic drugs have also been shown to carry serious risks of harm. This is of particular concern because of the skyrocketing rates of prescription of psychotropic drugs of all kinds for children and adolescents.
Some proponents of screening argue that they are not calling for “universal” or “manadatory” screening. But whatever words are used to describe it, the fact is that massive and extensive screening programs heavily influenced by the psychiatric drug industry are entering many schools today.
When the President of the United States announces he wants mental health screening of youth to be a “common practice” that is a lot of pressure on schools, kids and families. This is exactly what President Bush did when he endorsed his New Freedom Commission’s Goal Four.
In order to provide help for people who need and want it without causing additional harm, the following safeguards need to be implemented:
(1) STOP CURRENT SCREENING PROGRAMS IMMEDIATELY
The moment one applies mental health screening methods such as “TeenScreen” and “TMAP” on the basis of flawed diagnostic systems and questionnaires, one is making the problem worse. Screening misses some people with serious emotional problems on the one hand, and, on the other hand, mistakenly classifies other people as pathological.
Questionnaires and formal diagnostic interviews often fail to catch kids who are going to kill themselves, for example.
(2) PAY MORE ATTENTION TO YOUTH IN A COMMON SENSE WAY.
A child ought to have the opportunity to voluntarily talk with caring adults about the things that are upsetting them in whatever setting they are, including schools. That non-medical, common sense approach is better because it yields real life qualitative information, not simplistic quantitative data like questionnaires.
(3) FULLY INFORM FAMILIES.
The public needs to be educated that many current mental health programs may be harmful to one’s health. The public needs to hear that psychiatric drug companies helped create and promote many of these screening programs to get more customers for the highest priced drugs.
Fully informed consent should always be required in any kind of mental health care. Full informed consent means explaining to children and their parents or guardians about the full range of approaches that can be helpful. Families need to know about the hazards of psychotropic drugs and the lack of clinical trials for young subjects. Today, primarily only two approaches are recommended almost exclusively: drugs and traditional types of psychotherapy which tend to be rigid and limited.
(4) END THE BIAS TOWARD PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS IN MENTAL HEALTH CARE.
For families who do seek mental and emotional care, there ought to be no cookie-cutter like “algorithm” or “protocol” that unfairly favors the use of psychiatric drugs above all other options. The psychiatric drug industry has unfair influence throughout the mental health system making it unsafe.
Physical, nutritional or environmental pollutant problems are seldom addressed.
(5) PROVIDE HUMANE AND SAFE ALTERNATIVES.
A wide range of alternatives to drugs and traditional psychotherapy must be available to all who seek them. When there are only one or two “choices” for those who are desperate, that is one of the most insidious
and subtle kinds of coercion.
(6) ADVOCACY AT ALL LEVELS.
Effective advocacy programs, including peer support when possible, ought to be widely available to help people gain access to the employment, educational and other social services they may choose.
Advocates ought to help support the empowerment of individuals and families who wish to avoid unethical professionals and mental health agencies who may exploit and harm them. Advocates must help our democracy get more “hands on” with the mental health system.
Making screening “common practice” threatens the health and human rights of thousands of Americans. Therefore we call for an immediate halt to these screening programs.
This news alert has been forwarded as a free public service by MindFreedom International.
You may read more information about President Bush’s plans to make mental health screening of adults and youth “common” at http://www.MindFreedom.org.
Since 1987 MindFreedom has won victories for human rights in the mental health system. MindFreedom unites 100 sponsor and affiliate groups and thousands of members.
MindFreedom is one of the few totally independent groups in the mental health field with no funding from governments, drug companies, the mental health system or religions.
The MindFreedom mission calls for a nonviolent revolution in the mental health system. Are you ready?