Saturday, January 05, 2008

Criticism of Mass.Child Mental Screening

On Dec. 27, the Boston Globe ran a story about how Massachusetts plans
to do mental screening on children. The new requirement applies to the
460,000 children and young adults covered by state's Medicaid program.

Below are some responses to the article:

Boston Globe
Screening brings labeling, drugs
December 31, 2007
AS A psychiatrist since 1947, I am appalled that mental health screening
is now being required of Massachusetts children on Medicaid ("Mental
screening for young to begin," Page A1, Dec. 27). Such screening greatly
exaggerates the significance of the normal variations in psychological
Normal kids will therefore be labeled "sick" and referred for
"treatment." That labeling is often harmful in itself; once tagged, how
does a kid prove he's not mentally ill?

In some middle-class families, treatment may be individual or family
counseling. Whether it helps or is merely wasteful, it usually causes
relatively little harm. For Medicaid kids, however, treatment will
almost always involve powerful drugs whose serious side effects can
include the stunting of growth. Mental health screening is thus a
harmful invasion of the privacy of Medicaid youngsters.

Roslyn, N.Y.
Boston Globe
A needless strain on health dollars
December 31, 2007
WITH ALL of the strain Medicaid has been reported to suffer already -
and health coverage in Massachusetts and in other states in general -
what makes mental health screening a good idea?

An almost automatic $4.5-million hit - if anyone bothered to do the math
- for a written questionnaire? To ask if your toddler has been fussy? If
your teenager has been emotional? Duh.

And this is going to be a yearly thing. Add to that the prescriptions
that will inevitably come, and the doctor followups, oh geesh Wouldn't
that money be better spent on schools? That could be more than 100
teachers' salaries.

Exeter, N.H

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