Mandatory Mental Health Screening For Kids

Back in 2003, a commission created by President Bush advised on expanding and improving mental health programs at schools in order to provide assistance as soon as possible to students with difficulties with learning or who could become violent or disruptive.

The commission emphasized one method of early diagnosis, the Columbia University “TeenScreen” program that permits studentswith parental consent- to get an emotional health “check-up” via a computer-based questionnaire prior to graduating from high school.

The commission’s 86-page report included this recommendation in many other recommendations that could improve health care in the U.S. mental health system. It received little notice outside of mental health circles.

However, in the last two years, a cottage business of fierce opposition developed around the idea to extend mental health programs within schools. It has become a popular rallying point for conservatives who see it as unwarranted government intervention in family life.

School-based mental health programs highlight parents who claim that their children have been mistakenly diagnosed with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and then forced to take medication under pressure from school officials.

To parents like these the recommendation of the commission of “improve and expand” school mental health programs is the firstand most important step towards a mandatory physical health checks for everyone, as well as mandatory medication for a lot of students despite numerous assurances from school officials, commission members and congressional experts that this won’t take place. Visit:-

Supported by groups like and EdAction, these parents want to prevent schools from doing any involvement in the mental health of their children and claim it is the job of parents to make sure their children’s health is protected.

As a first step the groups are pushing Congress to adopt legislation which is sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. and backed by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to ban federal funds for mental health screening of students without the written consent by their families.

“If [this legislation] is passed, it will prevent wasteful and potentially devastating federal funding while safeguarding the informed consent rights of all parents in what is a most serious matter — their children’s health and safety,” said Patricia Weathers, president and co-founder of

The educators and medical professionals on the other side of the debate agree parental consent should be required to participate in screenings. They also believe it’s worthwhile to study the concept of encouraging voluntary screenings in order in order to assist children who need it in the earliest possible time.

“There is this curious coalition of people who are concerned about stuff that we didn’t recommend, and are making a big noise about it,” said Michael Hogan, director of the Ohio Mental Health Department and chairman of what was then called”the New Freedom Commission.

“The principal thing Commission members were concerned with was the fact that the majority of the mental health issues are pretty obvious problems that arise from young and adolescent-onset… Add to being concerned about this, is the reality that the majority of children never consult with a psychiatrist.

“The fundamental logic of what the commission said is that we should take steps to facilitate access to care where children are.”

The debate over school screenings is only one aspect of a larger discussion over the role schools should take in ensuring that children’s mental heath. Many teachers point to an obvious link between mental health and academic performance.

“There are a whole slew of intra-personal variables that contribute to a kid’s ability to learn and are heavily related to their academic success,” said Stacy Skalski, public policy director of the National Association of School Psychologists.

“There are also inter-personal variables. Kids don’t come into the world knowing how to relate to others. They need to learn that.”

Bruce Hunter, a veteran policy official for Bruce Hunter, a policy official with the American Association of School Administrators Bruce Hunter, a veteran policy official with the American Association of School Administrators, said “the education industry is hard enough without getting into the mental health business.
“But if a kid is going to beat the hell out of other kids regularly, and is disrupting the classroom, that’s a child that needs some mental health assistance. One of the things that our members have expressed is a rising concern about students’ mental health, and the ability to get them help when they have a problem,” Hunter explained.

The issue is that the discussion about school mental health issues has become enmeshed in the passionate opposition of certain individuals against treating children with depression, hyperactivity and other problems. The opponents point out the nasty potential side effects of drugs that are commonly prescribed such as suicide, and claim that they aren’t safe for children.