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The July 24th article in the Connecticut Mirror, by Arielle Levin Becker, titled Moms of children with mental illness share their pain, tell their stories, push for change, while anecdotal, the article provides little in the way of bolstering the cry for increased spending on mental health services. It does, however, provide three sentences that are at the heart of the mental health debate.
Becker writes “But they also note that there are differences between mental illness and physical conditions.” “There is no x-ray or blood test for most mental illnesses… there is subjectivity in the treatment of mental illness…”
First, it’s important to be clear: there is no x-ray, blood test, urine test, MRI or CAT scan that can detect any abnormality in the brain that is any alleged psychiatric disorder. It is not a case of “most mental illnesses,” there are, in fact, no objective tests to detect any alleged mental illness.
Even Keith Stover, an apparent lobbyist for the Connecticut Association of Health Plans, and was interviewed for the article, is confused about psychiatric diagnosing. According to Stover, “there’s rarely a clear diagnostic test that leads to an exact treatment protocol.”
There’s nothing “rarely” about it. Other than a doctor’s opinion of one’s behavior there are no diagnostic tests that lead to either an exact diagnosis or an exact treatment protocol. Psychiatric diagnosing is completely subjective and the pharmaceutical companies have no idea how the drugs work in the brain to treat any alleged psychiatric disorder.
The fact that insurance companies are required to cover treatment for psychiatric disorders is interesting in, and of, itself. Imagine for a moment that a doctor files a claim on behalf of a patient for heart surgery but provides absolutely no objective tests that an abnormality actually exists. The first question from the insurer would be “where’s the tests to show this procedure is necessary?”
And, adding insult to injury, given that there is no scientific or medical proof that any abnormality in the brain exists for any alleged mental illness, there continues to be an onslaught of demands for increased mental health screening, earlier and younger.
Along with the demands for increased screening comes even greater demands to an already over burdened educational system with training teachers and other school personnel on mental illness and the “stigma” associated with it. Ablechild believes that children should be sent to school to be educated not medicated.
More than that, though, what exactly will these educators, who are not doctors, be taught about mental illness? Will educators be provided with accurate information about the subjectivity of psychiatric diagnosing, which actually leads to the stigmatization when the child is labeled with an alleged mental disorder? Is this “training” intended only to promote the “treatment” of mental illness? More importantly, will educators be taught to identify adverse drug reactions and how to report these drug reactions to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by using the MEDWATCH adverse drug reporting system? And, who bares the cost of all of this mental health educating? The taxpayers?
Since the tragic incident at Sandy Hook, the state has poured millions of dollars into increased mental health services and, sadly, none of that legislation was based on any investigative information that the shooter, Adam Lanza, lacked mental health services.
In fact, based on the information that was made publicly available, Lanza was the poster child of mental health services and, perhaps, it is the services he received that may have contributed to his actions. Lawmakers, though, did not even consider this option.
Ablechild believes that a much greater review of the subjectivity of psychiatric diagnosing needs to be done before more taxpayer funds are allocated for increased mental health services. Because the question that one cannot help ask is if the mental health “treatment” being prescribed to Connecticut’s youth is working, why isn’t anyone getting better?