News of the Day ... in Perspective9/11/2004
House appropriates $20 million for universal “mental health screening”
On September 9, the House Appropriations Committee allocated $20 million to begin implementation of the plans set forth by the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFC) to get every man, woman, and child in the U.S. screened for mental illness. The funds are earmarked for “State Incentive Transformation Grants.”
The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health was established by Executive Order in April, 2002 www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/04/20020429-2.html
The commission recommended ‘linkage [of screening] with treatment and supports,” and commended the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a “model” evidence-based treatment plan
The Texas project, which promotes the use of newer, more expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs, sparked controversy when Allen Jones of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General revealed that key officials in his state received money and perks from drug companies with a stake in the algorithms. Jones was fired for speaking to the BMJ and the NY Times (mj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/328/7454/1458).
Illinois was the first state to enact a template for mental health screening in the Children’s Health Act of 2003. Lawmakers are now expressing reservations about the implementation, according to The Illinois Leader-Springfield Bureau, Aug 17, 2004.
Opponents of screening fear that anyone could be diagnosed as mentally ill on the basis of a checklist of behaviors, and coerced into taking a psychoactive drug, including some now the subject of hearings concerning an alleged increase in suicidal tendencies.
It has been noted that about two-thirds of children in state care in Massachusetts are on psychotropic drugs (Boston Globe, Aug 9, 2004).
An amendment to the Appropriations bill, introduced by Congressman Ron Paul, M.D. (R-TX), which would have defunded the program, failed.
Report by whistleblower Allen Jones, posted by the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (http://psychrights.org), which is dedicated to fighting against forced drugging: psychrights.org/Drugs/AllenJonesTMAPJanuary20.pdf