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NAMI Is Dead Wrong On Mental Health Screening
January 26, 2005
by Tony Zizza

It's terrible when groups like The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, (NAMI), throw truth out the window and just lie like crazy. I almost lost my lunch when I read their screed, "Mental Health Screening Will Save Lives" in NAMI E-News, January 19, 2005.

In what I think is a propaganda piece, NAMI states: "Mental health screening is essential to address the gross under-identification of youth with mental illnesses and the tragic consequences that often follow. Research shows that early identification and intervention leads to improved outcomes and may lessen long-term disability."

You've got to be kidding me.

NAMI foolishly goes on to call on "federal, state and local leaders to implement mental health screening for children and adolescents." I don't think for one second there is a mental health care crisis in this country centered on not enough children are receiving mental health services. Put another way, legal drugs! Our children are subjected to the folly of government grief counselors anytime something tragic happens, and our children already consume too many antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. It's no wonder the SSRI/Antipsychotic drug industry boasts sales in the tens of billions of dollars.

However, this does not faze NAMI one iota. Not one. According to Dr. Peter Breggin, psychiatrist and founder of The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP), "These groups hold national meetings that bring together drug advocates to talk directly to consumers. They also put out newsletters and other information that praise medications. Sometimes they actively suppress viewpoints that are critical of drugs - for example, by discouraging the media from airing opposing viewpoints."

From where rational people stand, NAMI appears as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs when it states, "Congressional members are being regularly contacted by anti-psychiatry groups who make false claims and distortions about screening, including the claim that the President's New Freedom Commission calls for mandatory screening without parental consent."

Yet, the NFC report does in fact call on changing "the state mental health code to increase to twelve the number of times adolescents age 12-18 years can receive mental health services without parental consent."

Can NAMI - read? Or do they simply refuse to? NAMI pushes mental health screening with the incorrect view that suicide among young people is an epidemic. Truth is, 1 out of 10,000 children commit suicide. A child is three times more likely to die in an auto accident than commit suicide, but our sense of urgency to drug children remains strong. We need to start blaming makers of psychotropic drugs more when children do kill themselves, and stop blaming parents for their children not being medicated.

According to "TEEN SCREEN: A Front Group for the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex":

In Pinellas County, Florida, an ongoing research project has already established that a large majority of teens who committed suicide were on psychotropic drugs or had received psychiatric treatment. In the years 2002 and 2003, 81% of the suicides were either on psychotropic drugs or had received psychiatric treatment. This percentage may rise as the research continues.

So, we are being lied to when we're told mental health screening will save lives. Mental health screening benefits drug companies, despite the fact mental health screenings are not based on scientific evidence, but once screened, children can easily be led down a road filled with psychiatric treatment and drugs.

How many people know that Eli Lilly helped fund the TeenScreen program with grants?

I agree with Dr. Marcia Angell, author of "The Truth About The Drug Companies", who said this about screening in a December 5, 2004 New York Post article, "It's just a way to put more people on prescription drugs."

Sometimes things are just this simple when you take away the lies and doublespeak.

This being said, we all need to be very concerned that the state of Illinois has already put a plan in place that utilizes reccomendations from President Bush's New Freedom Commission report on Mental Health. A report, again, that NAMI fully supports. These reccomendations are totalitarian and incredibly wrong:

  • Include social/emotional developmental screening as a part of required medical exams in schools (K, 4th and entering 9th grade).
  • Screen all pregnant women for depression prior to delivery and periodically in the six months following the birth of a child.
  • The early detection of mental health problems in children and adults through routine and comprehensive testing will be an expected and typical occurrence.

Are we still living in America?

You have to ask yourself, is it really "American" to want to find so much mental illness in people, especially children? Does NAMI think children and adolescents have any free will, or are they just mental cases lacking proper identification? Why does NAMI receive funding from drug companies?

I believe if NAMI really cared about children and adolescents, they would advocate for the plethora of alternatives to subjective mental disorders and objectively dangerous drugs. What good does detecting alleged mental illness do if a child, or adult for that matter, has other environmental factors to address that perfectly explain their shortcomings?

NAMI has the gall to compare government mental health screening for us to legitimate screening for real health care concerns. For example, we can see this more clearly when we look at vision and hearing. I truly wonder if the soul and core of NAMI is this: Wouldn't we all be better off if we all were prescribed at least one drug for our mental illness, and we all were properly identified for the mental health police?

It's time to relentlessly put President Bush's mental health screening monster and groups like NAMI in their place. I believe it's crystal clear; the true winners of mandatory mental health screening would be groups like NAMI, the mental health profession, and of course, drug companies.

I'm not going to hold anything back. Mandatory mental health screening is child abuse. Perhaps it's even a form of child molestation. And we all know what punishment child abusers and child molesters deserve.

Tony Zizza serves as Vice President of the State of Georgia for the organization, Parents For Label and Drug Free Education.

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