[Ron] Paul amendment against mental health screening fails

 Amendment to federal appropriations bill, HR 3010

EdAction Alert -- June 27, 2005

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"Pretty soon we'll have a syndrome for short, fat Irish guys with a Boston accent, and I'll be mentally ill."

"Mental health is the new normal," St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 23, 2005.

        Pharmaceutical industry profits won out against individual and parental rights last Friday when the Paul amendment that would have prohibited federal taxpayer funding for new universal mental health screening failed in a roll call vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman and physician Ron Paul introduced the amendment against government-sponsored and pharmaceutical-industry-supported universal mental health screening programs. The Labor/Health and Human Services/Education appropriations bill, HR 3010, was then passed with $26 million for "state incentive transformation grants" to fund implementation of the New Freedom Commission's recommendations for universal mental health screening and psychiatric drug treatment. This is the same amount requested by the President in his budget. 
        The Paul amendment simply stated:

 "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to create or implement any new universal mental health screening program." 

        Ninety-three Republicans were joined by four Democrats in supporting the Paul amendment. In Minnesota, Gutkneckt, Kennedy, and Kline voted yes. Ramstad, McCollum, Oberstar, Peterson, and Sabo voted with the pharmaceutical companies. Thirty-two members abstained. Thirty-two members abstained. (See the voting record at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll317.xml.)

        Please use this vote to educate your Member of Congress on this issue. We urge you to please thank the Members who voted yes, especially if they are your own Representatives. If your Member voted "No" to the Paul amendment, please contact him or her immediately to express your displeasure. Provide them with background information that is available on our website. Press your Representative to understand the urgency of this issue. Ask him or her to support HR 181, The Parental Consent Act which will be another opportunity to address your concerns.

        Urge your Member of Congress to join the 44 other Members in co-sponsoring HR 181. Many prominent organizations have so far joined in supporting this legislation or expressed concerns about child mental health screening, labeling and drugging. None of them take money from drug companies or other special interests. Included are:

Able Child   
Alliance for Human Research Protection (www.ahrp.org)
American Association of Physicians and Surgeons
American Policy Center
Concerned Women for America
Eagle Forum
EdWatch / EdAction
Family Research Council
Free Congress Foundation
Gun Owners of America
Home School Legal Defense Association
International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP) 
Libertarian Party
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Psych Rights
Republican Liberty Caucus
The Liberty Committee
We Hold these Truths        

As you might expect, well-funded lobbyists for those pushing universal mental health screening pulled out all the stops and demaoguery . One organization that has received millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry, for example, sent out the following false information:

"Supporters of this amendment claim that early screening would undermine parental rights, when in fact, parents will always have the right to control whether their child is screened or given services." [Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder - CHADD]

See "Medicating Aliah" (access code MJZL6Y) for an example of how false that statement is. Testimony from Cong. Paul (Texas) during the debate on the House floor is as follows:

"This does not deny any funds for any testing of those individuals who may show signs of mental illness. It only denies funding for any universal, read by many as mandatory, which is a bit of overkill as far as I am concerned. There is $26 million in this bill for these programs. Eight States have already been involved, and three more have applied for grants.

   "The main reason why I oppose this is I think there is a lot of overtreatment of young people with psychotropic drugs. This has been going on for a lot of years, and there are a lot of bad results, and once we talk about universal testing of everybody, and there is no age limit, matter of fact, in the recommendation by the New Freedom Commission, there is a tendency for overdiagnosis and overuse of medication. There are as many complications from overuse of medication as there is with prophylactic treatment.

   'There is no evidence now on the books to show that the use of this medication actually in children reduces suicide. Matter of fact, there are studies that do suggest exactly the opposite. Children on psychotropic drugs may well be even more likely to commit suicide. It does not mean that no child ever qualifies for this, but to assume there is this epidemic out here that we have to test everybody is rather frightening to me.

   "Matter of fact, when the State gets control of children, they tend to overuse medications like this. Take, for instance, in Texas, 60 percent of the foster children are on medication. In Massachusetts, it is close to 65 percent. In Florida, 55 percent of the children in foster home care are receiving these kinds of medication.

   "Once again, I want to make the point that this does not deny funding for individual children who show signs that they may need or they have a problem and need to be tested. It is just to make sure that this is not universal and not be mandatory and that parental rights are guarded against and that the parent is very much involved"

Rep. Regula (Ohio) inserted the same distortions that are being aggressively circulated by the special interests:

"The sponsor mentions $26 million, and let me point out that the funds provided in this bill that respond to recommendations put forward in the final report of the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, ``Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America,'' go toward State incentive grants for transformation to support the development of comprehensive State mental health plans, and has absolutely no funding included for universal mental health screening. So the $26 million has nothing to do with this amendment as far as universal mental health screening."

Rep. Obey (Wisconsin) continued the false statements:

"there are no plans for anyone in the Federal Government to conduct universal screening, and there are no funds in this bill for any such purpose."

Rep. Murphy (Pennsylvania) joined in with the lies of organized psychiatry and the  pharmaceutical industry:

"This amendment is another witch hunt against mental illness and its passage will only serve to further stigmatize mental illness."

Rep. Paul responded:

"Let me tell Members, people in this country have been well informed about this, and they do not like this program. I also would like to quote from the New Freedom Commission ...They never say `'mandatory,'' but they never say ``voluntary'  'What they say is `'universal.'' How can you have something universal if you are not going to be testing everybody? Also from the Freedom Commission, it should be for consumers of all ages, screen for mental disorders in primary health care across the life span. These are the guidelines of the New Freedom Commission, as well as saying the schools must be partners in the mental health care of our children.

Rep. Regula continued the distortion, and he denied the moves by states such as Illinois and Minnesota to do mental health screening of children based on the New Freedom Commission by saying:

"There is no universal mental health screening in this bill. Secretary Leavitt has made it clear there is nothing like this under consideration. It is an amendment that is not needed because it addresses a problem that does not exist."

Rep. Paul:

"as a physician, having practiced medicine for well over 30 years, let me tell Members, there is a crisis in this country. There is a crisis with illegal drugs, but there is a crisis in this country with an overuse of all drugs, especially in the area of psychiatry. Psychiatrists, if they are honest with you, will tell you that diagnoses are very subjective. It is not like diagnosing appendicitis. It is very, very subjective. If you push on this type of testing, the more testing you have, let me guarantee it, the more drugs you will have. Sure, there are mental diseases. I am not excluding any of this when a person has true mental illness, but I am talking about the overuse of Ritalin and Prozac and many of these drugs that are pushed on these kids.

"Let me tell Members, there have been some real problems with families who will not let their kids go on drugs because the schools pressure them to. They have been charged with child abuse, and threatened with taking their children away because they will not be put on these drugs. That is the kind of abuse I am calling to Members' attention, and that is why you need to vote for this amendment. It does not change anything. It does not deny anybody testing and treatment. All it does is say universal testing of everybody of all ages in this country is not the direction that we want to go. Please vote for my amendment. "

        "Medicating Aliah" (access code MJZL6Y) could have been cited here as just one example of what children and parents face. The Paul amendment to HR 3010 would have protected both children and adults from invasive screening that is based on vague, subjective, and politically motivated criteria that will result in labeling with dubious diagnoses. These diagnoses will follow people for the rest of their lives and will result in drugging with ineffective and potentially lethal medications. This vote was about freedom of thought, as well as civil and parental rights. 

        Chelsea Rhodes is another example of a child who was labeled with two different psychiatric disorders based on a computerized mental health screening called TeenScreen, given in her school without her parents knowledge or consent.  Her parents, with the aid of the Rutherford Institute, are suing the school district and the mental health provider that did the screening.

        We can see where this is going when Harvard and the National Institutes of Mental Health make the scientifically unsupportable claim that more than 50% of all Americans will be mentally ill during their lifetime. Even psychiatric experts such as the former chairman of psychiatry at John Hopkins found that idea very difficult to swallow.  The debate is raging within the psychiatric profession over the boundaries between mental health and mental illness.  "Pretty soon," Dr. Paul McHugh said, "we'll have a syndrome for short, fat Irish guys with a Boston accent, and I'll be mentally ill."

        The FDA has held hearings on the use of antidepressants and children. The FDA issued its strongest black box warning after discovering that information on the lack of effectiveness and dangerous side effects of these medications was concealed from physicians and the public, sometimes for years. Yet organized psychiatry is trying to get those warnings removed, because they would rather conceal the dangers to children than give up the profits.

        We need your involvement by informing Congress that you expect them to protect the rights of parents and the health of our children from overbearing government and mental health providers. Especially over the July break, contact your Member of Congress. Support HR 181. Please continue to use our e-action alert for HR 181 and pass it on to your networks of contacts. Additional background information is also available there, as well as on the EdAction website. Thank you.

Listen to the archived broadcast of a June 20th live radio interview with Congressman Ron Paul, Dr. Karen Effrem, and Mr. Allen Jones [http://www.mindmattersradio.com/] These three authorities on universal mental health legislation discuss the ethical and scientific problems raised by screening children for mental health. They discuss the New Freedom Commission report of 2003, its influence on current federal legislation, and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in plans to screen the U.S. population for mental health.problems.

Order the Mental Health Screening Briefing Book

Your case for discussing these issues can be made stronger if you purchase the Briefing Book now available from EdWatch that contains hard copies of nine articles by Dr. Karen Effrem, Dr. Dennis Cuddy, Penny Pullen of Illinois, and Karen Hayes of Illinois.  A CD-rom contains all of those articles, plus a Power Point presentation with evidence to bolster your case, and excerpts of a radio debate between Dr. Effrem and a member of the New Freedom Commission. 

To order the "Universal Health Screening" Briefing Book

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