News of the Day ... in Perspective5/14/2005
Schools may label 10% of students as mentally ill; parental consent called for
In Ohio, seven school districts, including Cleveland’s, had already begun mental health screening programs as early as 2003.
“We know that one in 10 children and teenagers suffers from mental illness and experiences impairment, yet only 20% of those children are getting help,” writes Laurie Flynn, director of Columbia University’s Carmel Hill Center for Early Identification and Treatment of Mental Illness.
Nearly 90% of parents believe they could tell if their children were depressed—incorrectly Flynn says—though they did not have confidence in other parents’ ability.
“This suggests that false confidence of some parents puts their children’s health at risk.”
On the other hand, Flynn states that mental-health screenings, “some as simple as completing a quick questionnaire on a computer screen,” can reliably identify at-risk students.
“Every parent, school and health professional should be working to ensure that every child receives a mental-health screening before graduating from high school,” Flynn believes (Columbus Dispatch 10/27/03).
A bill to prohibit the use of federal funding for any universal or mandatory mental-health screening program, H.R. 181 or the Parental Consent Act, has now gathered 35 cosponsors.