Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Psychologist makes patient wear dog collar

Psychologist makes patient wear dog collar

SYDNEY, Jan 30 (Reuters Life!) - An Australian psychologist charged with indecently assaulting a patient told a court on Tuesday that forcing his female patient to wear a dog collar and call him master was within a psychologist's ethical guidelines.

Psychologist Bruce Beaton, 64, pleaded not guilty in the Western Australia District Court to four charges of indecently assaulting a 22-year-old woman in 2005, local media reported.

Beaton was arrested when police, who had been secretly video recording the session with the woman, heard whipping sounds, reported Australian Associated Press from the court.

Beaton told the court he resorted to master-servant treatment with his bulimic patient because other methods had failed. He said he thought forcing the woman to wear a dog collar and call him master would build a more trusting relationship.

He said such treatment was allowed by the Australian Psychological Society. "It is right within the ethical guidelines," Beaton told the court.

"I am not saying it would be all right if I hit her. I did not hit her," he said. The trial continues.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Teen Screen presentation

KPU is stepping up in the teen screen fight.
Please see their website Kenosha Parents Union for an awesome powerpoint
presentation on Teen Screen:

Fight the Fight, sign the Petition!!!!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

foster care truth

State care of children = drugs, drugs and more drugs

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Other Youth Drug Problem - Teenscreen and TMAP


The Other Youth Drug Problem

By Alan Reder

When 13-year-old Luisa (family names and location changed to protect identity) of Atlantic City, New Jersey, began complaining of stomachaches, her mother, Eva, did what a good mom does—drove her to the pediatrician. After an exam, the doctor agreed with Luisa that her stomach pain was likely caused by anxiety. He prescribed a psychiatric medicine, Zoloft, commonly given to adults to ease depression. When her parents asked about side effects, the doctor reassured them the drug was mild. “If she needed something strong, I would have sent her to a psychiatrist,” he said.

Over the next few weeks, Luisa—previously a happy, social girl who got along well with her mother, according to Oscar, her father—became combative with Eva. She often got violent, threatening her mother physically. Four weeks after she started with the medication, Luisa hanged herself in her home. Her parents later learned that Zoloft and other so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were well known within the research community to cause suicidal thinking and behavior in young people.

Tragedies like these occur with startling frequency in this country. So does a much larger and growing caseload of nonfatal but still wrenching incidents involving children and psychiatric drugs. What’s more, say a legion of accusers, the chances of something similar happening to your child have grown as well because an alliance of economic and political forces has prioritized the sale of dangerous but lucrative medications over the safety and long-term health of our nation’s young people.

Hardball in the statehouse

The players in this story seem straight out of some dark Hollywood thriller. Start first with a pharmaceutical industry that, the critics charge, shovels money at state and federal officials and the psychiatric profession to buy their help in pushing high-priced drugs for minors. The most frequently prescribed drugs can cause horrific side effects—and in cases like Luisa’s, death.

The vast ideological territory spanned by the accusers suggests just how serious the charges are. Scathing articles have appeared in Mother Jones and Counterpunch on the left, and the British Medical Journal in the professional press. Outraged conservatives include the Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly, The Rutherford Institute, and Republican Congressman Ron Paul, also a physician. The thunder on the right seems especially noteworthy. How often do you hear about conservatives blasting corporations that funnel endless contributions to the Republican Party? This isn’t central casting, by any stretch.

The nexus of corporate and political forces that the critics point to is most transparently seen in the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) and its spawn in other states. TMAP, a state-developed set of medical practice guidelines that prioritizes specific drugs for treating certain psychiatric illnesses, was developed in the mid-1990s during the administration of then-Texas governor George W. Bush. Numerous major drug companies provided funding for the project. The recommended drugs happened to be the newest, most expensive drugs available, even though the evidence that they were safer and more effective than older, much cheaper versions was shaky at best, according to many experts. The drugs, of course, were manufactured by corporations that underwrote TMAP’s development. (Texas is also developing a juvenile version of TMAP called the Children’s Medication Algorithm Project or CMAP.)

Once TMAP was in place, the pharmaceutical industry began promoting—and quietly financing, according to whistleblower Allen Jones—the adoption of TMAP-like protocols in other states. Jones worked for Pennsylvania’s Office of the Inspector General from 2002 to 2004 and was charged with tracking down potential fraud in the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). In the course of an investigation, he discovered drug company money flowing into an off-the-books account controlled by the state’s chief pharmacist and director of state mental health services. After poking around some more, he learned the money was being used to further the implementation of Pennsylvania’s version of TMAP, to be called PennMAP.

He then uncovered other drug company funds wending their way into the hands of officials with power over the purchase of psychiatric medications. When he took his findings to his supervisors, he was told to “quit swimming against the stream in the pharmaceutical case,” he says. He was removed from his role as lead investigator and then taken off the case entirely, but he continued to gather evidence on his own, after-hours. In early 2004, he took his information to the New York Times and the British Medical Journal, which got him suspended and ultimately fired. Today, he’s employed by a firm that provides litigation support for law firms that take on the pharmaceutical industry.
In that firm, Jones works with psychiatrist Stefan Kruszewski, another former Pennsylvania state employee who apparently was railroaded for exposing the romance between the drug industry and the state. Between September 2001 and July 2003, the Harvard-trained doctor worked for Pennsylvania’s DPW, the same department where Jones’ inquiry started. Kruszewski was responsible for examining the quality of care in state-managed psychiatric facilities and out-of-state facilities housing Pennsylvania children. He also investigated deaths in psychiatric cases.
During Kruszewski’s short time with the department, five deaths (including four children) occurred under suspicious circumstances, he says. The state refused to provide him with coroner’s reports or autopsies, but even without those, he noticed a disturbing pattern to all the cases: multiple prescriptions of psychiatric drugs without the children being monitored. “The worst case I saw,” he says about one nonfatal case involving a Pennsylvania youth in Oklahoma, “was 11 psychiatric medicines at one time. That included five antipsychotic agents.” This patient didn’t even have a psychiatric disorder, says Kruszewski. She was mentally disabled and had a history of impulsive behavior. In her six months at the facility, she suffered a common side effect of antipsychotics: Her weight ballooned from 106 pounds to 194 pounds.

Kruszewski reported his concerns about overmedication and neglect to his superiors. They weren’t pleased. Kruszewski was fired the next day without notice. Both Jones and Kruszewski have filed suits against those who fired them, alleging collusion between corrupt officials and pharmaceutical companies. (DPW officials did not respond to an invitation to refute Jones and Kruszewski’s charges.) Meanwhile, TMAP-type protocols have been adopted in about a dozen states, and President Bush, whose campaigns have been fueled by hefty pharmaceutical industry contributions, has pushed TMAP as a model for all 50 states via his New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

More industry tentacles

Kruszewski has also pointed a finger at the unholy alliance between the pharmaceutical industry and the psychiatric profession. In a letter to Psychiatric News, an American Psychiatric Association (APA) publication, he stated: “APA cannot continue to bankroll its operations and research efforts with monies from pharmaceutical companies and expect the public to respect either its advertising hyperbole or research results.”

Tellingly, APA President Steven Sharfstein, MD, didn’t deny the charge in his response, published in the same issue (Oct. 21, 2005). “As a profession, we must do much more to earn back our moral authority,” he wrote. “We must evaluate all arrangements that psychiatrists have with industry and provide guidance and standards.”
All arrangements? It would be easier to cure cancer. Big Pharma underwrites a significant portion of the APA’s daily operations, especially through advertising in APA publications, and even tries to control the way the profession thinks. According to a 2002 Washington Post story about APA’s 2002 annual conference, “In several dozen symposiums during the weeklong meeting, companies paid the APA about $50,000 per session to control which scientists and papers were presented and to help shape the presentations.”

Drug industry moolah also helps fund the college and university programs turning out our psychiatrists. Advocates of the gifts argue that the institutions control their own educational content. But when Canada’s McMaster University attempted to regulate the influence that drug company contributors might have on the medical school’s curriculum, about half of the contributors threatened to withdraw their support.

The direct link between the industry and the inappropriate drugging of young people is, according to some, best seen in a bitterly controversial Columbia University-associated—and APA-endorsed—program called TeenScreen. A mental health-screening program for young people, TeenScreen relies on a mental health-screening questionnaire developed by Columbia child psychiatry professor David Shaffer. The 14-item questionnaire is designed to be completed in about 10 minutes. Screening sites include various places that young folks frequent—primarily schools. Its defenders praise TeenScreen as a godsend to families to help prevent suicide and identify youths needing help. But to its critics, the program is a tool used to herd misdiagnosed teens into the clutches of Big Pharma.
Disputes about the program’s real purpose begin, naturally, with TeenScreen’s ties to the industry. Pharmaceutical connections dot the resumes of TeenScreen executives and advisory board members, including Shaffer himself. Until recently TeenScreen used “passive consent” forms to get parents’ permission for their children to be screened. In other words, kids were given a parental consent form to bring home, but unless they returned a signed form saying “no,” they were tested. In May 2006, under a barrage of criticism, TeenScreen switched largely to active, or explicit, consent.

The screening instrument itself also enrages the program’s accusers because it yields 84 percent false positives—that is, out of every 100 kids referred to professionals as a suicide risk, 84 are in fact normal. What’s more, some of those kids may end up being prescribed antidepressives like Zoloft, which then creates suicide risk where there was none.

The best-known legal case against TeenScreen involves Chelsea Rhoades of Mishawaka, Indiana. Chelsea, then 15, was TeenScreened without her parents’ knowledge or consent. She was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder “based on her responses that she liked to clean and didn’t like to party very much,” according to a press release from the Rutherford Institute, which represents Chelsea’s parents in suing TeenScreen for encroachment on parental rights.

Despite the clamor over its methods and intent, TeenScreen is thriving, with 460 screening sites in 42 states as of late 2005. It is touted as a model program by Bush’s New Freedom Commission, which calls for the mental health screening of every American child, preschoolers included. (TeenScreen did not respond to repeated interview requests.)

A cure worse than the disease?

What makes this more than just a story about influence-peddling to boost profits, of course, is the harm psychiatric drugs can do to the intended users, in this case, our nation’s children. Consider the so-called atypical antipsychotics, a group of newer, pricey drugs created to suppress serious psychiatric symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
“Atypical” refers to the industry’s claim that these medications have nearly eliminated the risk of Parkinsonian and “tardive” side effects. The drugs the atypicals were designed to replace were notorious for causing brain damage after prolonged use. That damage could lead to movement disorders like the tremors, flat emotional expression, and shuffling gait seen in patients with Parkinson’s disease. It could also bring on tardive dyskinesia, or abnormal movements of the mouth and tongue; tardive dementia, or permanent harm to memory, judgment, and the ability to plan; and even tardive psychosis, meaning that the psychotic symptoms themselves become irreversible.
But Stefan Kruszewski, psychiatrist Grace Jackson (author of Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs, Author House, 2005), and many other experts snort at the term “atypical,” which they say is more marketing hype than research-based. The risk for Parkinsonism and tardive effects remains significant, if somewhat reduced over older drugs, Jackson says. Plus, the atypicals increase risk for a host of disturbing metabolic side effects, like significant weight gain and predisposition to early heart attacks and type-2 diabetes.

The financial implications of the atypical marketing blitz are stunning. Kruszewski points out that a common scenario is for three atypicals to be prescribed together. That regimen might cost $600 per month, says Kruszewski, yet it “makes no sense to me pharmacologically. It’s very bad medicine.” A comparable medical result might be achieved with a low dose of Haldol, an older antipsychotic, for about 3 cents a day—less than a dollar a month.
As for the SSRIs like Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, et. al., it is only since October 2004 that the FDA has required that all packaging for these medications carry a “black box warning” about increased suicide risk in young people. But Jackson notes that the danger has been understood since at least 1985, when Prozac maker Eli Lilly was warned by its German employees that “they were seeing patients become agitated and sometimes suicidal” on the drug. Even with the black box label, physicians frequently prescribe SSRIs to youth today.

In the end, no one can see into the hearts of pharmaceutical executives or the creators of TMAP or TeenScreen to know if their intentions are as callous as their critics maintain. It is clear, however, that cases like those of Luisa or Chelsea Rhoades are not isolated. And it would be hard to argue with Jones’ observation that “the industry agenda is not the agenda of the average couple in America who is trying to raise children in an already difficult world.”

Taking Action

If you’d like to be more involved in or more informed on the issues discussed in this article, check out these useful resources:
• Stop TeenScreen online petition ( )—Petition designed to be delivered to school board members and state and federal legislators. Created by mother of Chelsea Rhoades.
• Alliance for Human Research Protection ( )—Superb information source on the issues discussed in the article.
• ( )—A project of activist/researcher and Scientologist Ken Kramer that provides information and access to public records regarding psychiatric abuses.
The Church of Scientology opposes the practice of psychiatry. —Anti-TeenScreen site that helps parents find out if TeenScreen is used in their child’s school. —Read TeenScreen’s side of the story.

VIDEO - Kids Speaks Out - See what TeenScreen wants for our nation's kids.

See what TeenScreen wants for our nation's kids. 

7 foster children want you to listen to their story

VIDEO here:

17,279 Total Signatures

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pounding of TeenScreen Continues - Syracuse, New York

The Post Standard
Syracuse, New York
TeenScreen program used to push drugs to students
To the Editor:

I read the article "New program focuses on fifth and ninth-graders" that appeared on Jan. 14 and am appalled at the contents.

The article states as if it were a fact that children need to be screened for mental health issues and that mental health issues for children are a growing concern nationally.

The program described in the article is called TeenScreen, a joint effort by psychiatric and pharmaceutical front groups. TeenScreen has been created in order to use our schools as a recruit pool for new patients.

TeenScreen promoters have stated that suicide is a leading cause of death among teenagers.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate among children, including teens, actually dropped 25 percent in the last decade. A May 2004 Preventive Services Task Force concluded that there is no evidence that screening for suicide reduces suicide attempts. In essence, the program is unwarranted and unproductive.

TeenScreen is simply a front for the pharmaceutical industry to peddle their drugs to our children.

Additionally, nine out of 10 children who go to see a psychiatrist leave with a psychiatric drug prescription. When this frightening statistic is combined with the fact that 100 percent of the 10th graders tested under TeenScreen at Hoover High in Fresno, Calif. had "positive diagnostic impressions," you are looking at some terrifying results.

Todd Wilson

Coast to coast - the assault on TeenScreen continues.   New York already has a plan to screen 400,000 kids and Syracuse is targeting 5th graders.

See here for your neck of the woods:

It needs to stop. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bill Would Limit Use of Ritalin - Israel

Bill Would Limit Use of Ritalin
18:10 Jan 23, '07 / 4 Shevat 5767

( MK Yoram Marciano (Labor) proposed a law Monday that would severely restrict the rights of parents to medicate their children with Ritalin. In recent years, critics have accused parents or school authorities of seeking to have children who are overactive prescribed Ritalin in order to “calm them down,” and the drug has been implicated in a number of negative youth behaviors.
The law would require a lengthy registration and supervision process by the Health Ministry for any child being given Ritalin, with preference being given to other methods of dealing with the conditions for which it would otherwise be prescribed.
Marciano attributed the recent upswing in the number of children being given Ritalin in Israel to increased sales activity by drug companies.
“The drug companies have launched a massive campaign recently to convince psychiatrists, doctors, teachers and parents of the wonders of Ritalin — while many experts in countries around the world believe there is nothing wonderful about this drug at all,” he said.

Monday, January 22, 2007

States Study Marketing of Lilly Pill

January 20, 2007

States Study Marketing of Lilly Pill

Stepping up government investigations into Eli Lilly’s marketing of its best-selling drug Zyprexa, state prosecutors in Illinois and Vermont have demanded that the company turn over information about the way it promoted the medication.

On Thursday, lawyers from the consumer protection division of the Illinois attorney general’s office demanded that Lilly hand over marketing materials, e-mail messages, and other documents with information about promotion of Zyprexa. Vermont investigators issued a similar order yesterday morning.

The orders are the civil equivalents of criminal subpoenas, according to Deborah Hagan, the chief of the Illinois consumer protection division.

Illinois and Vermont are now part of a coordinated five-state civil investigation into the way Lilly promoted Zyprexa, a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The states are investigating whether Lilly tried to hide Zyprexa’s risk of causing weight gain and other risks associated with diabetes and whether the company promoted Zyprexa for use in patients who do not have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Federal laws prohibit such so-called “off label” marketing, although doctors may prescribe any drug for any disease that they believe the drug will help.

The orders on Thursday and yesterday are the first formal demands for Lilly documents from state attorneys and they indicate an escalation of the investigation, according to Ms. Hagan and Julie Brill, who is an assistant attorney general in Vermont.

“We can ask for documents; we can ask for answers to questions; and we can ask for people to come in and testify under oath,” Ms. Hagan said. Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia have also recently accelerated their own investigation into Lilly’s marketing of Zyprexa.

In a statement yesterday, Lilly said it would cooperate with the investigations and had done nothing wrong. “We intend to cooperate with the Illinois attorney general’s civil investigative demand relating to Zyprexa,” the company said. “We cannot comment further about this or other ongoing investigations.”

While the investigation being led by Illinois is civil, other investigations into Lilly’s conduct are both civil and criminal. Attorneys general in California and Florida may seek to recover Medicaid payments that the states made for Zyprexa. Medicaid represents a sizable percentage of the drug’s overall sales because many people who take the medicine are disabled and do not work.

Any fine or cost recovery could be sizable, because Zyprexa has been a commercial success. The drug is by far Eli Lilly’s largest-selling product, with sales of $4.2 billion last year and about $30 billion since its introduction in 1996. More than 20 million people have taken Zyprexa since Lilly began selling the drug.

The investigations could continue for months or possibly years, people involved in the cases say, as investigators sift through tens of thousands of documents from the company and talk to current and former employees.

Zyprexa, whose generic name is olanzapine, is a potent chemical that binds with receptors in the brain to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But Zyprexa also causes severe weight gain and changes in blood sugar and cholesterol in many patients who take it.

Internal Lilly documents provided to The New York Times last month by a lawyer in Alaska who represents people with mental illness indicate that Lilly has engaged in a decade-long campaign to play down the seriousness of the side effects of Zyprexa.

Lilly did not disclose to doctors that its own data showed that 16 percent of people taking Zyprexa for a year gained more than 66 pounds, according to the documents.

The documents also indicate that the company told its drug representatives to promote Zyprexa to doctors for the treatment of conditions other than bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Lilly has said it did not market Zyprexa off-label and said so again in its statement yesterday.

“Lilly is committed to the highest ethical standards and to promoting our medications only for approved uses,” the company said.

But its marketing materials have repeated references to promoting the drug for other uses. And some sales representatives and doctors have also said they believed that the company was marketing off-label.

Still, any criminal prosecution of the company could face a high burden. While settlements of off-label marketing cases have led to large fines, such cases so far have fizzled if they reach juries.

And as long as drug makers comply with federal requirements to provide data about their products to the Food and Drug Administration, companies have a relatively strong defense against criminal prosecution, according to lawyers who are experts in drug marketing.


Former Pharmaceutical Rep. Speaks Out


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Kids Treated Like Lab Rats!

Eagle Forum
February 2007
Mental Health Screening for Texas Kids
By Cathie Adams, president of Texas Eagle Forum

"Have you often felt very nervous when you've had things to do in front of

"Has there been a time when you had less energy than you usually do?"

"Has there been a time when you felt you couldn't do anything well or that
you weren't as good-looking or as smart as other people?"

If you would answer, "Yes" to any of these questions, then you are either
crazy or at least have mental health problems according to a Columbia
University based program called TeenScreen. TeenScreen labels 15% of the
students screened as having mental health problems, a diagnosis that leads
to the use of powerful and sometimes hazardous medications.

A January 2006 Brandeis University study found that psychotropic drug
prescriptions for teens surged 250% from 1994-2001. One in every ten doctor
office visits by teenage boys led to a prescription for a psychotropic drug.
A diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, a malady that
was first defined in 1980, has grown to epidemic proportions. The subjective
diagnosis of ADHD was given to about one-third of the office visits during
the study period. Last year
15 million antidepressant prescriptions were written for teens and children,
but such medications may in part account for the doubling of suicide rates
over the past 20 years for children 5-14 year old.

Financial incentives such as Medicaid funding to the family of a child
diagnosed with ADHD as much as $450 a month and funding to schools $400 a
year for each ADHD child probably increases the number of diagnoses.
It is insidious that this government-driven scheme puts children at risk
while it profits pharmaceutical companies at taxpayer expense.

Even though pharmaceutical companies will profit from the Medicare Drug
Package that was originally estimated to cost taxpayers $400 billion, but
has now grown to $1.2 trillion, they want more. The industry's aim is to not
only collaborate with the schools, but to also coax government into
requiring mental health screening for every man, woman and child.
Following is the timeline of Texas' involvement in this pharmaceutical

- In 1995, then Governor Bush initiated collaboration between the Texas
Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR), pharmaceutical
companies and the University of Texas Southwestern, funded by the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation and several drug companies.

- In 1997, Texas initiated a drug protocol called the Texas Medication
Algorithm Project, TMAP, for state mental health programs. The health care
provider drug protocol calls for prescribing new and very expensive
psychotropic drugs, as well as more prescriptions, which caused Texas
Medicaid spending on five atypical antipsychotic drugs to skyrocket from
$28 million to $177 million in 2004.

- In 1999, the Texas legislature codified TMAP for state-owned and
state-funded mental health clinics. Texas officials pressured physicians to
follow TMAP or to justify a different course with a note in a patient's
file, making it a rare exception.

- In 2002, President Bush issued Executive Order 13263 creating the New
Freedom Commission, which calls for universal mental health screening, a
call that was highly unlikely to pass Congress. TMAP became the federal
model and at least 17 other states have adopted the Texas model.

- In 2005, Texas Eagle Forum savvy volunteer MerryLynn Gerstenschlager,
found an amendment on a state mental health reform bill that would have cost
billons of dollars to integrate mental and physical health in Texas to
screen for "co-occurring physical, mental and substance-abuse disorders" and
to develop integrated treatment strategies" for both adults and children.
Gun Owners of America joined TEF's opposition stating, "The amendment calls
for a mental health screening system that could potentially cover every
child in the state-with no guarantee that it won't be done over the
objections of the parents."

- In 2005 Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill after the amendment was removed.

- In 2006, Attorney General Greg Abbott investigated whether drug companies
improperly influenced Dr. Steven Shon, medical director of behavioral health
at the Department of State Health Services. Dr. Shon, who made more than 80
trips outside Texas to promote the drug Risperdal and TMAP at drug company
expense, was fired when Abbott joined a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson
and several subsidiaries claiming misrepresentation of the safety and
effectiveness of the drug. A settlement could cost the drug company more
than $1 billion.

In 2007, TEF will remain vigilant in our opposition to mandatory mental
health screening. At the federal level, we will watch closely the No Child
Left Behind Act that will be up for renewal as well as plans to expand
psychological screening programs, beginning in infancy.

Schools as Psychiatrists - "Battle of Epic Proportions"

Carolina Beat
By Lindalyn Kakadelis
January 17, 2007

Author photo





In states across the country, advocates of universal mental health screening are increasingly marginalizing parents. Schools are stepping in as the new gatekeepers, turning K-12 campuses into the venue of choice for taxpayer-funded mental health screening. But parents and some pediatric health professionals are crying foul, claiming universal screening usurps parental authority and is a Trojan horse for unprecedented pharmaceutical coercion. This promises to be a battle of epic proportions.

All of the newfound focus on pediatric mental health comes thanks to President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, established in 2002. The commission’s findings, released in 2003, claim schools are in a “key position to identify mental health problems early” through routine and comprehensive screening of the nation’s 52 million public school students. In 2004, Congress appropriated $20 million to fund the commission’s recommendations. Lured by the carrot of federal grant money, states are quickly falling into line.

One of the more popular mental health screening tools employed by schools is TeenScreen, developed by Dr. David Shaffer, chief of the Department of Child Psychiatry at Columbia University. In 2005, TeenScreen’s computer-based, subjective, 10-minute questionnaire was used by schools in 43 states. Interestingly, up to one-third of student test-takers are found to evidence mental health problems.

There’s no question that children and teens afflicted with mental illness need help. The consequences of undiagnosed, untreated mental health problems are sobering, sometimes fatal. But mandatory screening, especially without parental consent, is fraught with its own ethical and long-lasting ramifications.

In addition to abrogating parental rights, mandatory evaluations and their subsequent diagnoses are often followed by recommendations to use powerful pharmaceutical drugs. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a physician for more than 30 years, is an outspoken critic of school-based screening and its link to increased drugging. “Federally funded universal or mandatory mental-health screening in schools without parental consent could lead to labeling more children as ‘ADD’ or ‘hyperactive,’ and thus force more children to take psychotropic drugs like Ritalin against their parents’ wishes,” Paul said.

What’s a parent to do? Above all, learn the facts. The Protection of Pupil Rights Act safeguards the rights of parents to inspect instructional materials used in conjunction with surveys. The act also requires schools to obtain written parental consent before conducting evaluations assessing mental health or other privileged information.

Parents would also do well to monitor schools closely. Even in states (like North Carolina) that do not yet have mandatory mental health screening, schools still sometimes conduct their own evaluations. Schools may also circumvent the standard written permission process, sending home “passive consent” forms instead. Passive consent forms specify that a school will screen all students unless parents return forms saying they do not want their child to participate. During my tenure with the Mecklenburg Board of Education, a local elementary school used passive consent to screen students for mental health problems. This continued unabated until angry parents notified the Board of Education.

Debate on this issue is sure to rage on. In the meantime, here’s what we know for sure: Pediatric mental illness is a matter for serious concern. But in our zeal to alleviate children’s suffering, we dare not trample on the rights of those who care most. Parents, not schools, are best equipped to navigate the often murky and uncharted waters of a child’s mental illness. No law will ever change that.

Lindalyn Kakadelis is director of the North Carolina Education Alliance.

16,890 total signatures to date.  Stop TeenScreen's Unscientific and Experimental "Mental Health Screening" of American School Children

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"America's Schoolchildren Are Treated Like Lab Rats" Rutherford Institute

The Rutherford Institute
America’s Schoolchildren Are Treated Like Lab Rats
By John W. Whitehead

America’s schools are beginning to resemble laboratories, and our children are the lab rats. In almost every state across the nation, schoolchildren are being subjected to behavioral exams and mental health tests, often without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

One such program is the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). Currently used in at least 45 states, the YRBSS test takes approximately 35 minutes to complete, with questions on everything from how much television the student watches to thoughts on suicide, sexual activity and drug use. For example, the 2007 middle school questionnaire includes such questions as: “Have you ever seriously thought about killing yourself?” “Have you ever made a plan about killing yourself?” “Have you ever used marijuana?” “Have you ever used any form of cocaine, including powder, crack, or freebase?” “Have you ever had sexual intercourse?” “The last time you had sexual intercourse, did you or your partner use a condom?” “Have you ever sniffed glue, or breathed the contents of spray cans, or inhaled any paints or sprays to get high?” “Have you ever taken any diet pills, powders, or liquids without a doctor’s advice to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight?” “Have you ever vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight?”

First developed in 1990 by the Center for Disease Control, the test’s stated purpose is to track health risk behaviors among America’s youth. In this way, YRBSS is similar to other mental health screening programs that have been creeping into the classroom since President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health recommended mental health screenings for all school-aged children, including those in preschool. But if the goal is to identify and prevent risky behavior among young people, why are many parents up in arms over these tests?

There are several problems. First, there are concerns about how the tests are being administered. Health screening tests like YRBSS are often given to students without parental knowledge or consent. While the CDC insists that local parental permission procedures are followed prior to administering the test, many school systems use so-called passive parental notification procedures, which assume that parents have given their consent unless they notify the school of an objection. But passive notification is just a sneaky way to avoid obtaining written parental consent. And in the end, whether due to the child losing the notification form or forgetting to give it to the parents, parents are often left in the dark, unaware that their children are being subjected to such invasive tests.

Second, critics of these risk assessment tests insist that they’re aimed at pushing antidepressant drugs on teenagers. For example, TeenScreen, which is similar to YRBSS in its intent to identify suicidal tendencies and social disorders, has been labeled by the Alliance for Human Research Protection as a “duo-drug promotion scam” that declares “otherwise normal children to be mentally ill.” Another vocal critic of the tests, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, points out that drug companies are gearing up for bigger sales of antidepressants at the same time that the FDA is issuing warnings about antidepressants increasing the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children who take them.

Finally, legitimate questions remain about whether such tests really help students achieve healthier lifestyles. TeenScreen, for example, has an 84% false-positive rate. This means that 84% of teens diagnosed as having some sort of mental health or social disorder are, in fact, perfectly normal teenagers. Furthermore, although the CDC insists that there is no danger in asking students highly suggestive questions about sex, drugs and suicide, as a parent, I’d prefer to decide the timing and content of such a sensitive discussion.

Helping America’s teens make positive, healthy and responsible lifestyle choices is a worthy goal, but it must start with parents within the home. If the schools are to be part of the process, they must ensure that parents are fully informed and involved at every step of the way. In turn, parents should demand that they be notified about mental health evaluations and that the evaluations not be given unless they have provided express written permission, which is required under federal law. Parents should also be provided an advance copy of the screening questionnaire in order to make an informed decision about whether they want their child to be screened.

It’s time for parents to stand up for their rights. After all, it is still the job of parents—not the schools—to parent. Our children are counting on us.

VIDEO: TeenScreen Controversy:

Monday, January 15, 2007

Wisconsin Psychologist Rips TeenScreen

Kenosha Parent's Union

Kenosha Parents Union is an organization of parents and community members working to Kenosha's strengthen public schools

Letter to Sheboygan Psychologist re TeenScreen

Sheboygan South High School
Attn. Dr. Fred Sutkiewicz
School Psychologist

Dear Fred,

Thank you again for meeting with my psychology interns and myself a few weeks ago.  This meeting, combined with the TeenScreen training that I went through with you about a year ago has helped me better understand the overall program.  Based upon everything I have learned about the program, I have serious concerns about the program and how it will negatively impact our community and youth. 

As you are well aware by now, I am interested in the TeenScreen program due to the overwhelming power it has on the students, parents and our community at large.  You personally are in a unique position, given the sheer number of students you come across and the many other individuals you will meet as a result of this program (e.g. parents, caregivers, community groups).  I definitely see a need for extending help to those in need and having an active interest in students’ academic and emotional well being; however, the TeenScreen Program is not the best course of action for helping our young community.  I hope you carefully review my concerns listed below, do a follow up review of the information I provided, and do your best to track any potential benefits and the negative consequences the program.  I must also add that I was pleased to hear that you decided to break from the TeenScreen Manual protocol, which clearly endorses and uses language endorsing referrals to medical practitioners (e.g. psychotropic drugs), and use your best judgment with regards to providing appropriate referrals.

Due to the multiple other concerns regarding the program, I am forwarding this letter to the School Board for review as well.  If, after reviewing the information below, you or the school Board would like to conduct a more point-by-point discussion about the program or choose not to continuing endorsing the program (e.g. as did several other school districts such as the Pinellas County School District in Pinellas, FL, Fresno Unified School District in Fresno, CA- where I did my graduate work and helped stop the TeenScreen Program from starting) I would be happy to meet with you to discuss creating a specific outreach program for our young community, one that may be more cost effective in the long run. 

Since the field of psychology and psychiatry is unlike all other branches of health and medicine, (e.g. not adhering to the same rigorous objective standards for diagnosing and instead being quite subjective in nature, not having even one biological test for any psychiatric disorder, having poor agreement between mental health professionals not only for diagnosing, but also for the cause for all the disorders-often called “illnesses”, and having even poorer agreement from mental health professionals as to the best coarse of treatment), I was concerned to learn that our local schools began making psychiatric and psychological referrals based upon a subjective test that identifies 50% more students as at risk than highly trained clinicians do (e.g. per the TeenScreen training session that stated approximately 50% of the students sent to the clinician for an immediate follow-up mental health screening interview will not be found in need of an outside referral.)  Given the subjective nature of the mental health field, it also should be concerning that of the 60% of the student body that takes the TeenScreen test, 16% of the interviewed students will be referred to an outside “practitioner” or agency.  I know you stated that our community only had approximately 50% screened and that about 11% were referred to outside practitioners, but I have not heard back from you with regards as to where these children were sent to (e.g. psychiatrist or other medical doctor for drugs, family treatment or individual counseling). 

Since I still have not heard where the children are being sent to, and since I inquired at the training numerous times about the referral process but was told you could not go into details about the guidance counselor training or referral process, it is clear the TeenScreen program does not want to discuss where they are sending these children.  When I am asked to conduct a client-centered consultation and to make treatment referrals and/or recommendations, the clinical interview and data collected from this in-depth interview guides the treatment referrals and recommendations that I make.  It appeared much more appropriate when I heard that the “interviewers” by the volunteer therapists were able to have some discussion and follow up questioning when a student was marked as having a “mental illness” or problem.  Unfortunately, Teen Screen does not allow for the one who has all the information to make the referral, but rather the one individual who was trained by Teen Screen, who may not have any in depth psychological training. 

Your referral process, debriefing discussion and verbal discussions with parents will ultimately direct their understanding of any potential problem, and will also ultimately direct their care (e.g. family therapist, individuals therapy, Priest, Minister, Rabi, psychiatrist, neurologist, pediatrician, etc...).  Given this, I am sure you understand the significant and considerable difference between seeing a individual therapist specializing in child-adolescent therapy, obtaining skill-based education, and obtaining a average fifteen minute medical consult where by the data states that 90% of them will walk out with a prescription for a psychotropic drug. 

The mental health field has continually been plagued with each specific treatment camp claiming to have the best type of treatment for a particular disorder.  However, with recent meta-analysis studies coming out about the effectiveness of particular treatments, it has become even more confusing for researchers and practitioners alike to decide which treatment may serve a particular client best (Kirsch & Moore, 2002; Prevention and Treatment, Vol. 5, #23).  Since the mental health field has not been consistent in determining a “best course of treatment”, nor has agreed that any approach is superior to one or another, I can only hope you personally decide not to follow other Teen Screen programs that predominantly and/or only states you will refer to physicians who in turn prescribes psychotropic drugs.  I hope you will keep categorical referral records, and will allow researchers like myself access to this data to determine if the program actually has any benefit. 

Regarding the letters that are sent to parents, I am also concerned that the three letters you handed out to us during the training session (e.g. one thanking the parent for the follow through on the TeenScreen recommendation, one stating the parent agreed to the screening but the child chose not to take the test, and a third stating the parent did not comply and seek treatment for their child which was against your and the TeenScreen recommendation) are not the only letters that could be sent to a parent or child protective agency.  I still have not seen the other letters you were going to forward to us for review.  Nevertheless, the last letter indicated above assumes that a parent did not seek a consultation after hearing that the TeenScreen check off list marked their child as potentially having a “mental illness” or problem; however, this letter does not account for the possibility that a parent sought out another opinion or even treatment but simply wants to protect their family privacy from the school system and government (i.e. they did seek counseling and simply did not tell the child’s school about it.)  During the training session, you mentioned a certified letter that would be sent to parents if they did not respond to initial letters.  Based upon the numerous attempts to get children screened and the numerous follow up letters available, it is clear the goal is to have the parent follow the TeenScreen referral recommendation.  Again, this places the TeenScreen recommendation in a very influential and powerful position.  To this extent, I really am interested in your “training program” for making these recommendations, and I request to see what the TeenScreen Manual recommends, especially since my son and daughter could be potential South High School TeenScreen statistic. 

I am additionally concerned that during the training session you made reference to the support of the TeenScreen Program, but failed to mention anything about the drawbacks and limitations of the program and of the mental health professionals who admittedly oppose it.  As a researcher, it is difficult to weight the pros and cons of a program when the program discussion only focuses upon how beneficial it might be, but yet fails to produce peer reviewed evidence demonstrating the benefits and failures of the program.  Most importantly, there is no data to suggest that the TeenScreen Program actually lowers suicides.  This program has been running for quite some time now, and I have not seen any peer reviewed data showing that the TeenScreen actually lowers suicide.  Instead, TeenScreen’s own co-director, Rob Caruano, has acknowledged there is no proof or data available to demonstrate that the program reduces suicide rates (Dec. 22, 2004; South Bend Tribune-IN by D. Rumach, “TeenScreen assesses mental health of high school students.”)   Additionally, the TeenScreen program was established in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1997 .   According to a 2003 Tulsa World newspaper article, Mike Brose, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, stated: “To the best of my knowledge, this is the highest number of youth suicides we’ve ever had during the school year -- a number we find very frightening.”   If the program is supposed to work, how can you explain this phenomenon?

Researchers and psychiatrists alike are even coming forth saying TeenScreen is unworkable. Nathaniel Lehrman, MD, former Clinical Director of Kingsbro Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn, NY, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Albert Einstein & SUNY Downstate Colleges of Medicine, stated, “The claim by the director of Columbia University’s TeenScreen Program that her program would significantly reduce suicides is unsupported by the data.  Indeed, such screenings would probably cause more harm than good.  It is impossible, on cursory examination, or on the basis of the Program’s brief written screening test, to detect suicidality or “mental illness,” however we define it.”  Dr. Lehrman and I discussed these issues in person in October 2005, and he was quite clear that even the process of screening for mental disorders can evoke or create psychiatric symptoms, thus leading to and possibly accounting for all the False Positives that the Teen Screen researchers acknowledge.  He and I also agree that by having the screening device in the schools, with all the pressure to take the test from teachers, counselors, parents, etc..., it violates the privacy of those in whom these subjective “diseases” are sought. 

Additionally, Dr. Marcia Angell, Harvard Medical School professor of Ethics and best selling author stated that the TeenScreen Program “is just a way to put more people on prescription drugs” and that such programs will boost the sales of antidepressants even after the FDA in September ordered black-box warning labels, warnings that stated that these drugs will not reduce, but rather create suicidal thoughts or behaviors in minors (The New York Post, December 5, 2004).  As a result of the black-box warning labels that stated the SSRI antidepressants cause suicides and suicidal ideation, even in people who are not suicidal, sales instantly and sharply fell.  Nonetheless, our school system has adopted a catch-all screening program that was created by previously paid drug company representatives and researchers (e.g. Laurie Flynn). 

I am also concerned about the inference you made during the training session last year, an inference I pointed out during our meeting with the interns, whereby you stated the decrease in suicides over the past few decades was the result of the SSRI antidepressants.  As you recall, you showed a graph demonstrating the reduction in suicides for our youth; however, you indicated that the decrease came as a result of the antidepressants drugs commonly called SSRI’s coming to the market.  This is simply not true, as there is no data to support such an inference.  Instead, the FDA and research has been quite clear: if you take an SSRI antidepressant drug, such as Prozac, Paxil, Luvox, or Effexor, you will be more likely to commit suicide and to have suicidal ideation, all things being considered. 

Because the increase in suicide from taking SSRIs has been so clearly demonstrated, the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the equivalent to our FDA, in Great Britain recently banned all but one of the SSRI’s for anyone under the age of eighteen, noting that the one remaining SSRI drug, Prozac, although they could not be certain it caused people to commit suicide or become suicidal,  “only worked in 1 of  our 10 cases”.   The drug companies are not able to find one study showing a reduction effect, but yet you allowed this inference to be made to all the counselor attendees at South High.  I hope you are not continuing to make this inference, as it is unethical and inaccurate at best and quite dangerous and proven to be deadly at worst. 

Likewise, there is no data proving that screening will prevent suicides, the whole reason this screening program came about to begin with.  According to The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (May 2004):

A. “There is no evidence that screening for suicide risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality.” B. “There is limited evidence on the accuracy of screening tools to identify suicide risk.” C. “There is insufficient evidence that treatment of those at high risk reduces suicide attempts or mortality.” D. “No studies were found that directly address the harms of screening and treatment for suicide risk. “

I will address the reason the FDA and the TeenScreen program did not follow Great Britain’s actions later, but for now, I believe the SASD and you personally need to consider the following.  If the Sheboygan Area School District (SASD) and its counselors who adopt the Teen Screen approach adopt a program that has a tendency or makes it customary to refer to “practitioners”, whereby the leading referral is to a medical doctor (knowing that approximately 90% of psychiatric referrals lead to a prescription- (Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 2002), and the SASD and their counselors have been made aware of the serious health problems associated with these antidepressant, stimulant and neuroleptic drugs, and finally if  the SASD and its counselors know that the number of students referred could exceed the number of student actually in need of true mental health assistance (e.g. based upon the difference in the screening instrument and a clinician’s expertise), then the Sheboygan School District and its counselors could be found liable for the negative consequences that will ultimately result from this program. 

I know of only one case in which someone was potentially liable and needed to pay for not medicating a child, but yet there are thousands and thousands of cases in which children are harmed by these drugs, doctors and school system referrals.  I found no less than 4 specific cases recently going through the court system whereby a children or their parents sued their school district for the TeenScreen Program.  This number does not include the dozens of cases that came up for teachers, counselors and school officials referring students to medical doctors for psychotropic drugs outside of the TeenScreen Program and settled outside of court, sealing all documents from the public eye.  

Now that I have addressed several concerns, I would like to review how and why the program is being so quickly accepted across the United States despite the lack of evidence that it lowers suicides. 

So where did Teen Screen come from?  TeenScreen was developed by psychiatrist David Shaffer of Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.  Shaffer is a consultant for pharmaceutical companies that make psychotropic drugs (see page 21 of Executive Summary report, dated Jan. 21, 2004; American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, “Preliminary Report of the Task Force on SSRI’s and Suicidal Behavior in Youth.”)  He has served as an expert witness for and on behalf of various drug companies, and he has been a paid consultant for specific psychotropic drugs.  Some of his suicide surveys are made financially possible through an educational grant from Pfizer Inc., once receiving over $1,250,000 from just one of the drug companies (see American Foundation for Suicide Prevention press release, May 8, 2000.)  In December of 2003, British drug regulators recommended against the use of SSRI antidepressants in the treatment of depressed children under 18 because some of the drugs had been linked to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.  However, according to a Dec. 11, 2003, New York Times article, Shaffer, at the request of the maker of a psychotropic drug, attempted to block the British findings from being released, sending a letter to the British drug agency saying that there was insufficient data to restrict the use of the drugs in adolescents. 

The director of the Teen Screen Program is Ms. Laurie Flynn.  Ms. Flynn and the Teen Screen Program initially searched the newspapers throughout the US looking for reports of teens who had committed suicide.  When they found such a tragedy, the program then sent a letter to the editors of the local newspaper telling them about how the Teen Screen Program could be a “solution” (Goode, E., British Warning on Anti-depressants Use for Youth, in New York Times, Dec. 11, 2003.)  Like Shaffer, Flynn also had financial support from pharmaceutical companies that make psychotropic drugs.  She served as the director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), which received no less than 11.7 million dollars from 18 different drug companies from 1996-1999, the largest being Eli Lilly, maker of Prozac.  Ms. Flynn demonstrated her interest in trying to get children screened, calling for a “horse to ride” in order to gain access by an individual within or close to the school district board (see letter at 

Lastly, Ohio Mental Health Director, Michael Hogan, and California Director Stephen Mayberg are part of the Teen Screen Advisory Board.  Hogan is also part of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, created by President Bush Sr..  The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health recommends the use of “state-of-the-art treatments” using “specific medications for specific conditions.”  The Commission also praised the Texas Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a model medication treatment plan.  This federal program endorsed the Teen Screen Program and called it a model program that should be used in all schools, daycares and agencies.  The TMAP program, which sets the stage for the Teen Screen Program, is a set of guidelines for physicians to use when deciding what medication to give to a patient for a particular symptom or psychiatric problem.  The program advocates the use of newer, more expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, but when Allen Jones, an employee of the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General, revealed that key officials with influence over the medication plan in his particular state received money and perqs from the drug companies to have the more expensive drugs listed higher on the TMAP type program, he was fired for talking to the New York Times.  Pharmaceutical giant Janssen took the lead in exerting influence over state officials by creating “advisory boards” made up of state mental health directors who were regularly treated to all expense paid trips and conferences.  By influencing 50 key officials, the company knew that it would have a good shot at getting a TMAP list adopted in every state.  For example, Ohio Mental Health Director Hogan and California Director Mayberg, are New Freedom Commission members who control mental health services in their respective states, and both are also members of a Janssen advisory board.  Hogan has proven to be so useful that Eli Lilly gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award.  In granting the award it was noted that Hogan had given over 75 paid presentations at conferences since he accepted the position on Bush’s New Freedom Commission.  In every keynote speaker engagement that Hogan has performed at, he has been paid by a pharmaceutical company and the conference has been sponsored by a drug company.  Interestingly, Bush Sr., who developed the Freedom Commission on Mental Health, endorsing TMAP and TeenScreen, was also on Eli Lilly’s Board of Directors for many years, holds heavy stock in pharmaceutical companies, and obtains huge donations from such companies.

More specifically to Teen Screen, their Funding was said to be given by private donations; however, TeenScreen and Columbia University refused to divulge the source of their funding.  Their website says they are funded by private family foundations, corporations and individuals, without naming them. One corner of their Internet site did give a clue to their funding: “A large pharmaceutical company funded the TeenScreen program in Tennessee (, see page 4, left, mid-page).  In Florida, Jim McDonough, the director of the Florida Office of Drug Control, was sent an email from Flynn threatening to pull funding if more children were not screened in their community (e.g. March 22, 2004, “We’ve been working with David Shern and USF for 18 months or so and still haven’t got a program going....At this point I’m inclined to re-think the use of our resources.  We’re sending about $120k to USF annually. . . . but ultimately we’re not achieving our goals in the community,” Flynn wrote.)  Flynn later stated to McDonough that she had to find kids to screen and said, “I’m looking for a horse to ride here!”  According to Flynn’s testimony in March 2002, she hopes to screen no less than 7-12 million new potential drug company customers.

I pose the question, aren’t eight million kids on Ritalin enough?

I hope this raises your suspicion as to the “true” agenda to the Teen Screen Program, and has demonstrated sufficiently how the program fails to produce desirable results.   The Teen Screen Program is about making profits, not about helping children.  To this extent, I present some basic profit calculations.  According to the Teen Screen 10 year strategy, TeenScreen wants to make the suicide survey available to all American children. 

Since 1991, the Columbia University Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has invested nearly $19 million in the “research” and development of the Columbia TeenScreen program.  I ask who will reap the returns?

There are 47.7 million (47,700,000) public school students.
There are 5 million (5,000,000) private school students.

17% of the kids screened by TeenScreen accept counseling (8,959,000).  Seventeen percent (17%) may be a low percentage, but I am only taking numbers supplied by TeenScreen.

According to TeenScreen, 9.9% of the kids screened are drugged (5,217,300).  TeenScreen says less than ten percent (10%) are prescribed some type of drug.  This means that a whopping 60% of kids who accept referral counseling as a result of the suicide survey wind up on drugs.  Keep in mind these are TeenScreen’s own numbers; actual figures may be much higher.

One example prescription for a common psychotropic drug is $15.56 per day.
5,217,300 students (customers) x $15.56 per day = $81,181,188 per day.
$81,181,188 x 365 days a year = $29,631,133,620 annually.

That’s nearly 30 billion dollars per year in pharmaceutical sales courtesy of the TeenScreen program.

Multiply that by a lifetime of addiction due to down or up regulation of neuroprocessing, and it is no wonder why drug companies are tripping over themselves to sponsor screening of everyone in the United States (e.g. It is mandated that every pregnant woman and child, infant to 18 years old, be mentally screened by every pediatrician, school and day care every year.  That is three screenings per year, every year!).  In one Colorado study over 350 youths were suicide screened using TeenScreen’s survey. They found that over 50% were at risk of suicide and 71% screened positive for psychiatric disorders at a youth homeless shelter.  That’s not science, that’s a dream come true for drug companies. 

Having presented all this, I would be happy to work with the SASD if they are interested in creating a specific program to address emotional well being in our children.  I think it is noteworthy to acknowledge that just recently yet another study comparing cognitive psychotherapy to antidepressant medication (Paxil) was just published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The research was done at the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University using 240 patients.   It was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and confirmed that the use of psychotherapy intervention worked at least as well as the SSRI, even with moderately to severely depressed patients (i.e. keeping in mind that up to 90% of the medication effect can be explained by placebo effect-sugar pill; Antonuccio, D., Antidepressants: A Triumph of Marketing Over Science?, In Prevention & Treatment, Volume 5, Article 25, posted July 15, 2002.)  The study went on to report that if the patients stopped taking the psychiatric drug, they were twice as likely to develop a relapse of depression.  The researchers called for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to revise their treatment guidelines to discourage the use of drugs for depressed individuals.

I would respectfully request that the following data and information be given to all parents prior to any screening, as I believe the real issue here is parental rights related to what they deem appropriate for their children.  I do not believe the government should interfere and have any legitimate authority to direct a families intimate health matters.  I believe there is a right to know about hidden agendas and what could occur if they disagree with the recommendations of the School Counselor.  I also ask that the SASD offer an opinion regarding if they are willing to report parents to the Department of Family Services if the parents choose not to medicate their children or agree with the screening device that states their child has a mental disease (i.e. as in the cases of Matthew Smith and Shaina Dunkle who died of medication toxicity after their parents were coerced into placing their children on drugs by their school.)  Other examples include the nightmare that Aliah Gleason went through when she was taken from her home, not allowed parental contact for five months while she was placed in foster care, and ultimately forced to take drugs due to the incorrect screening outcomes and misinformed school district.  These are tough questions that have not been answered as of yet, and I believe they need to be addressed before child is torn between a well-intentioned school district, school counselor, profit driven program and parent.  

Kindest Regards,

Dr. Toby Watson, Psy.D.
Clinical Depth Psychologist
Clinical and Doctoral Training Director
International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology Board Member

16,270 Total Signatures Over 700 doctors have signed to date 


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

VIDEO: National FOX TV - Psych Drugs

VIDEO:  FOX ran this last night:

Gogo Lidz, a young college studentis a good example of exactly where TeenScreen will lead our kids.

You can also see her full story published in New York Magazine, My Adventures in Psychopharmacology, here: "Between the ages of 16 and 21, I was prescribed more than fifteen different stimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers."

Psychiatrist admission on FOX:

1. I have to say I'm a psychiatrist. But too many of my colleagues are ready to grab the prescription pad before they learn their patient's life stories.

2. Yes - there are many people who are overmedicated.

3. Yes - there are many people, by the way, who are medicated without somebody having a firm grasp of why psychologically are these people in my office to begin with

4. Too many people blindly trust their psychiatrist. If you're not doing well, you need to move on.

Ending Electric Shock (ECT): A Feminist Perspective

Four excerpts from the article:
Women are subjected to electroshock two to three times as often as men.... Approximately 95 per cent of all shock doctors are male.

[Many women] have testified that the real purpose of the electroshock was social control. Cognitive impairment or memory loss is frequently identified as the means. The rationale is: What cannot be remembered cannot be acted on.


ECT is effective in the way abuse is always effective — by inspiring fear of further violation. Additionally, a vicious cycle sets in, with ECT used to stop women from complaining about the effects of ECT. Significantly, many women have testified that when they spoke of the treatments making them worse, they were chastised and warned that continued complaints would be interpreted as illness and result in further “treatment.” Not surprisingly, women in turn reported protecting themselves by obeying. What is also telling, women psychiatric survivors who have not been shocked describe the very witnessing of shock in the institution as both traumatizing and an ever-present threat.


To date, despite the ongoing work of some feminists, the issue of electroshock has not been taken up broadly by the women’s movement. However, if we in the women’s movement were to take up this issue in a concerted way, we could make a huge difference.... It falls to us to take up this issue,... ECT constitutes state-sponsored violence against women.


Red Flag for Pediatric Drugs

Red Flag for Pediatric Drugs
    Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., and Robert J. Cihak, M.D., The Medicine Men
    Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006

There is evidence that dangerous new psychiatric drugs for children are being over promoted.
So cautions a number of medical journals, institutions, researchers, and a recent American Association of Physicians and Surgeons news perspective.
According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the institutional review boards (IRBs) that approve research protocols are riddled with conflicts of interest.
Conflicts of Interest
A survey reported by Campbell et al. found that 36 percent of IRB members had at least one relationship with industry in the preceding year (New Engl. J. Med., 2006, 355: 2321-2329). Most (85.5 percent) thought that industry relationships never affected the recommendations of fellow IRB members in an inappropriate way.
More than 40 percent of respondents reported that they did not always disclose a conflict to an IRB official and 20 percent said they always voted on a research protocol submitted by a company with whom they had a relationship.
This study "shatters the last myth about the integrity of the system of checks and balances in medical research," writes Vera Hassner Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection (
"Like the doctors, the researchers, the institutions, and government agencies, IRBs are `on the take,'" she states. (Coincidently, that¹s the title of a book by Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a former editor of the NEJM.)
Sharav has been especially critical of over-promotion of drugs for mental illness. "Antipsychotic drug manufacturers created a marketing blockbuster cash cow with the help of influential psychiatrists from the University of Texas," she states.
"Together they manufactured [evidence-based] consensus promoting psychotropic drug prescription guidelines that requires use of these drugs as first-line treatment."
The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) turned what Sharav calls "the most toxic drugs in medicine,"(approved for limited indications of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) into blockbuster sellers.
Newer drugs, including Risperdal, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, now account for more than 90 percent of the $10.5-billion-a-year U.S. market for antipsychotics, largely paid for by federal and state governments, reports Rob Waters (Bloomberg News, Dec. 1, 2006).
"Newer drugs are no more effective than the older drugs they have largely replaced, although they cost 10 to 20 times more," writes Waters, citing the federally funded, $42 million CATIE study, "Clinical Anti-psychotic Trials in Intervention Effectiveness," (Am J Psychiatry 2006;163: 563-565).
Troubling Side Effects Loom
The new drugs also cause another set of troubling side effects, including weight gain and metabolic changes that can lead to diabetes. In an editorial, Robert Freedman, editor in chief of the journal, expressed worry that the study might result in insurers dictating the choice of drug, with decreased flexibility for clinicians (Washington Post 12/1/06).
It is alleged that adverse effects were concealed in ghostwritten journal articles signed by academic psychiatrists paid by drug companies to advocate the new drugs as first-line therapies in TMAP formularies. Also, there is allegedly evidence to suggest that government officials were bribed to put expensive and toxic drugs as first-line treatment on state formularies.
Steven Fiorello, former chief pharmacist for the State of Pennsylvania, has been arraigned on charges related to too-cozy relations with drug companies (Business Week 11/22/06).
Eli Lilly, Sharav writes, has signed a $690 million settlement in suits charging that Zyprexa caused hyperthermia and diabetes.
Suffer the Children
Of greatest concern is that 2.5 million American children, some as young as 18 months, are being given antipsychotics.
None of these drugs was approved for use in children until Risperidal was recently approved, without a public hearing, as a chemical straitjacket for autistic children, writes pediatrician Karen Effrem, M.D.
She noted that 45 deaths from toxic effects of these drugs had been reported, with the FDA admitting that this may represent only 10 percent of the total.
Dr. Effrem believes there is a, "mental health dragnet," seeking young children for testing with psychoactive substances. The blueprint, implemented in President Bush's, "New Health Freedom Commission Report," is being implemented even as the evidence demonstrates that psychiatric treatment guidelines are being corrupted by industry.
Now, that's total insanity that needs to be treated immediately.
Unfortunately there are no medications for federal foolishness.
Editors' Note: Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., wrote this week's commentary.
* * *
Contact Drs. Glueck and Chehak by e-mail.
Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., comments on medical-legal issues and is a visiting fellow in Economics and Citizenship at the International Trade Education Foundation of the Washington International Trade Council. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a senior fellow and board member of the Discovery Institute and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Psychiatry as a Means of Social Control - Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Psychiatry as a Means of Social Control - Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/9/2007

If you are a rebellious child or teenager and you have not been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, you are still at risk of being labelled and pathologized.

The DSM informs us that "The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior towards authority figures that persists for at least 6 months."

Unbelievable as this Orwellian, Big Brother text is - it gets worse. If you are under 18 years old and you lose your temper, argue with adults, actively "defy or refuse to comply with the requests or rules of adults", deliberately do things that annoy said adults, blame others for your mistakes or misbehavior - then unquestionably you are a sick little puppy. And who is to make these value judgements? An adult psychologist or psychiatrist or social worker or therapist. And what if you disagree with these authorities? They get annoyed and this is proof positive that you are afflicted with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Did anyone mention catch-22?

And the charade continues, masquerading as "science". If you are touchy or get easily annoyed (for instance by the half-baked diagnoses rendered by certain mental health practitioners), you are ODD (i.e., you suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder).You are allowed to be touchy when you are an adult - it is then called assertiveness. You are allowed to get pissed off when you are above the crucial (though utterly arbitrary) age limit. Then it is called "expressing your emotions", which is by and large a good thing.So tell us the charlatans that call themselves mental health 'professionals' (as though psychology is an exact science, not merely an elaborate literary exercise).

The DSM, this manual of the Potemkin science known as clinical psychology, continues to enlighten us:

If you are habitually angry and resentful, spiteful or vindictive and these traits impair your "normal" social, academic, or occupational functioning (whatever "normal" means in today's pluralistic and anomic culture), beware: you may be harbouring Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). It is not clear what the DSM means by 'occupational' when Oppositional Defiant Disorder typically applies to primary school age children. Perhaps we will find out in the DSM V.

"The behaviors must occur more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level." - the DSM helpfully elaborates. If the child is psychotic or suffers from a mood disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder should not be diagnosed.

Why am I bothering you with this tripe? Because the DSM is ominously

"The diagnosis is not made if ... criteria are met for Conduct Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder (in an individual above the age of 18)."

Get this straight: if you are above the age of 18 and you are stubborn, resistant to directions, "unwilling to compromise, give in, or negotiate with adults and peers", ignore orders, argue, fail to accept blame for misdeeds, and deliberately annoy others - you stand a good chance of being "diagnosed" as a psychopath.

Let us hope that the "scholars" of the DSM V Committee have the good sense to remove this blatant tool of social control from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. But don't count on it and don't argue with them if they don't. They may diagnose you with something.

Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. In addition to writing for the Global Politician, he served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. Sam Vaknin's Web site is at