Indiana Citizens Revolt Against Children's Mental Health Plan

Issues and Action in Education

An e-letter produced by EdWatch, a nonprofit organization.

September 22, 2006

        Indiana is in an uproar over the children's mental health plan that passed their legislature last year. As it turns out, few lawmakers actually knew what it was. In a scenario disturbingly similar to the stealth passage of Illinois' 2004 mental health plan, legislators were poorly briefed with one-sided information, resulting in their being blind-sided by growing public anger as the plan unfolds.

        The Indiana plan wants all Indiana children tested for mental health "as a part of routine examinations in schools and by health care providers." [Senate Enrolled Act 529] Opponents of the state-directed plan have organized public demonstrations against what they consider a violation of parents’ rights as it relates to their children's mental health. When Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed the law last spring, he bragged about the direction this sets for the entire nation. This year, however, legislators may repeal the entire plan.

        The state of Indiana, as in Illinois, has set itself up as the arbiter of what is "normal". This alarms many parents who have some sense that psychiatry has been hijacked by special interest groups who aren't relying on science at all, but rather, are pushing political agendas. An even greater fear is the excessively high unreliability of the mental health testing in children. Many children will mistakenly be labeled and diagnosed with mental illnesses, which often leads to parents being pressured — or forced — to drug their children with anti-depressants, psychotropics or stimulants, such as Ritalin, intended to control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other labels.

         TeenScreen, for example, which will be part of this plan, has a false positive rate of 84%, an outrageous outcome that would disqualify any other program. Mental health pushers, however, are undeterred.

         Pediatrician Dr. Karen Effrem of EdWatch reviewed the Indiana plan (see Concerns with Indiana's Mental Health Plan) and identified several of its "dangerous assumptions" and "incorrect concepts." Considering that similar plans are in the works in most states, people in every state have an interest in reviewing it carefully.

        For example, one dangerous assumption is that setting norms for and intervening in the social emotional and behavioral health for all children, beginning at birth, is the proper role of government. Effrem cites the "Early Warning, Timely Response" federal violence prevention program as an example of the dangers of government oversight of mental health. In that program, warning signs for potential mental health and violence problems include “intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes.”  The description of this warning sign states,

“All children have likes and dislikes. However, an intense prejudice toward others based on racial, ethnic, religious, language, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and physical appearance when coupled with other factors may lead to violent assaults against those who are perceived to be different.”  [Page 10, emphasis added.]

This statement smacks of politically correct diversity outcomes, which horrifies many parents.
        A new collection of essays co-authored by two past presidents of the American Psychological Association (APA) raises the same questions. The book challenges the entire credibility of the practices and policies of professional mental health organizations. Many in the field who had initially agreed to contribute chapters to the book, Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm, by Rogers Wright, Ph.D. and Nicholas Cummings, Ph.D., Sc.D, later withdrew, fearing loss of promotion, denial of tenure, and even shunning.

        The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders, used to identify forms of mental illness, is considered "out of control" by a growing number of critics. The 375 "official" disorders include labels like "intermittent explosive disorder, IED" (the psychiatric label for road rage). One schizophrenia expert says, "Your grandmother would say these are bad folks who can't control their temper, and she would be right." The ever-growing list of mental illnesses are vaguely defined, yet they are being used as the basis for labeling and treatment.

        Other recent additions to the DSM mental ailments for children are "mathematics disorder, reading disorder and disorder of written expression," according to a July 17, 2006 article ("Behaving badly has disorder to call its own") in the Baltimore Sun. "Based on definitions in the DSM-IV, naughty children can be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder," the article states.

        In fact, psychology is the only profession ever censured (unanimously) by Congress for the APA Journal’s published argument that sexual molestation of children is harmless. After that, why should the profession be treated with the least credibility?
        Yet state systems for universal screening of infants, preschoolers, teens, pregnant mothers, people with other sicknesses, the poor, and the elderly are moving into place rapidly, as seen in Indiana and Illinois, using federal tax money to get going, in spite of questions raised.

        Government is using the suspect mental health profession and its associated pharmaceutical lobby to define normalcy for the entire nation of children. The authors of Destructive Trends blow the whistle on psychiatry as issuing “politically correct edicts,” but those edicts are now the basis upon which our children will be judged and labelled as “mentally healthy” or not.

Examples of "Incorrect concepts" in the Indiana plan:
(See Concerns with Indiana's Mental Health Plan for the details of each of these.)

Do not implement universal mental health screening, especially for infants and very young children, due to its lack of scientific validity, violation of privacy and family autonomy, and the stunning lack of evidence regarding safe and effective treatments.  Instead, government should support family autonomy. Family tax burdens should be decreased by eliminating wasteful, unscientific and invasive programs. This will allow parents more time with their children. Government should promote two parent, stable families which have the greatest success rate for meeting children’s social and emotional development. Paternal involvement in welfare payments and other similar measures should not be penalized. 
What you can do
Become informed.

1.)     Attend the 2006 EdWatch Conference
         Friday/Saturday, October 13/14th
Issues will include the coming child and infant mental health screening systems and their inclusion into early childhood programs with Dr. Karen Effrem. Carol White will discuss mental health research in minority communities. Twila Brase will discuss how genetic testing is linking to education data systems.
Register and Information here or call 952-361-4931.
2.)      Get your copy of the DVD: The Dangers of Universal Mental Health Screening
         Get your copy of: The Dangers of Mental Health Screening, Briefing Book
         Order Minnesota's " Know your Rights" cards on mental health screening for preschoolers.

3.)     Spread this information widely to friends and elected officials.

4.)     Sign the national petition to Stop TeenScreen's Unscientific and Experimental "Mental Health Screening" of American School Children: Over 11,600 people have signed the petition to date.

5.)      Support EdWatch .

To learn more about these education issues order America's Schools: The Battleground for Freedom,  by Allen Quist

See also International Baccalaureate and The Earth Charter's Unholy Ark

Ed Watch
105 Peavey Road, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
EdWatch is entirely user-supported. The continuation of our research and distribution work is entirely dependent upon individual contributors. If you want to assure that our work continues, click here.  If you want to subscribe or unsubscribe to this EdWatch e-mail service, mail to:  Put "subscribe" or "unsubscribe" in the SUBJECT of the message. Resources of videos, books, and audiotapes are available on our shopping cart.

Popular pages at In the News: EdWatch Speakers in radio, print, and internet

Featured Itesm: Popular articles, Updates and Resources

See also Brave New Schools, Chapter 2: The International Agenda