According to the World Health Organization, the United States is one of the most depressed countries in the world, with one in five adults experiencing some form of mental health issue each year. While some of the millions of people diagnosed with these conditions seek therapy to cope with their problems, the vast majority are simply handed prescriptions for antidepressant and other psychiatric drugs and sent on their way.
Sadly, more and more children are being swept up in this net of chemical medications. CCHR, the international mental health watchdog organization, warns that over 7 million children under the age of 17 are already on some form of psychiatric medication, including over 2 million on antidepressants, 1.2 million on antipsychotics, and 1.4 million on anti-anxiety medications.
And those numbers are sure to grow astronomically, if a new program being implemented in Washington State takes off nationally. Several King County school districts in that state will shortly be introducing mandatory screenings to establish mental health and substance abuse risk factors in seventh grade students. And that will provide a whole new batch of “patients” for Big Pharma to sell psychiatric drugs to.
Another opportunity for Big Pharma to make big profits off little kids
According to the Bellevue Reporter, a device called the Check Yourself Tool, based on research conducted by scientists at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington, will be used to implement a program called Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Services (SBIRT).
SBIRT is a web-based interactive survey that obtains information from the child and then spits out “instant personalized feedback about mental health behaviors.” It will take students no more than 10 minutes to complete, and will cover four areas of concern:
Strengths (goals, supportive relationships and school connectedness); substance use (use in the past year and frequency of use); mental health (anxiety, PTSD symptoms, and self-harm thoughts); and safety (harassment, feeling safe at school, and context at home).
Based on the results of their individual surveys, kids will then be divided into three tiers:
Tier 1 kids who are considered low risk and will not require additional services;
Tier 2 kids who demonstrate a need for some intervention and who will supposedly be connected to a mentor or some school-provided services; and
Tier 3 kids who “demonstrate a high need for immediate intervention and will be referred to YES counseling services. Students who screen out as very high risk will receive an evaluation either the same day or the next day.” These children will be assessed by certified clinicians who will no doubt ensure that they are immediately placed on some kind of chemical medication. (Related: Bombshell study admits antidepressants increase suicide attempts in teens and are completely worthless for treating depression.)
The stated goal of the program is to get kids who are depressed or predisposed to other mental health issues the help they need at an earlier stage. If that help revolved around getting to the root cause of these kids’ problems and working with them to eliminate them, that would make this a great program. The reality on the ground, however, is that most of these kids will simply be put on chemical medications – medications which have been conclusively linked to dangerous behaviors, including the spate of school shootings the United States has experienced in recent years.
A lose, lose situation for the kids involved
Martha Rosenberg, writing for Transcend Media Service, warned that when it comes to children and psychiatric medication, everyone’s a winner – except the child:
Everyone but the children wins at the pediatric psychopharmacology game that puts children on expensive psychiatric drugs—Pharma, Wall Street, doctors, insurers, pharmacy benefits managers and Pharma’s PR and ghostwriting firms. Researchers, medical centers, clinical research organizations and medical journals also profit through Pharma funding. The only losers at the pediatric psychopharmacology are kids themselves given a probable life sentence of expensive and dangerous drugs. They are denied the chance to grow up normally and outgrow what are likely minor problems or traits. [Emphasis added]
And therein lies the problem: Labeling these kids and putting them on the conveyor belt of chemical medication at an early age means they never get the help they really need and will likely have to deal with an ever-increasing cocktail of drugs to deal with all the additional symptoms and side effects caused by the medications themselves. These kids may go on to graduate school one day, but they will likely never be pronounced mentally fit and taken off the drugs. (Related: Mental health expert blasts Big Pharma for over-prescribing of antidepressants to children who just need counselling instead.)
Do we really want to give schools this kind of power over our children?
Learn more about the things that impact our mental health at PsychDrugWatch.com.