Campaign To End Mental Health Screenings In MA

Submitted by admin on Mon, 02/26/2007 - 22:09

The Freedom Center has initiated a campaign to end mental health screenings in MA to contribute to the nation-wide movement of opposition to screening programs.

Campaign Overview

On July 26 2004 the Bush Administration’s New Freedom Commission publicly announced its goal to screen every American for a mental disorder with priority being given to school children. The announcement generated an enormous backlash due to its overt sponsorship and resulting benefits for the pharmaceutical industry and a number of national and international grassroots organizations have mobilized to oppose the recommendation’s implementation.

The grassroots movement has met with considerable success: the damage to mental health presented by the screening programs has received national and international media coverage, legislative action has prevented the implementation of TeenScreen in Florida school districts, and various lawsuits have been filed as a result of screening programs.

The Bush Administration has responded by holding a meeting with grassroots organizations where public concern over screening programs were acknowledged, the administration distanced itself from TeenScreen and TMAP as models for screening programs and treatment, and the administration has promised to adhere to federal parental consent regulations.

These successes are encouraging. However, the agenda to implement mental health screening programs in the school system continues. SAMHSA has been experimenting with screening programs in select school districts since 2000, the Garrett Lee Smith Act, the 1st youth suicide prevention bill, which preferences the use of screening programs as an early intervention and prevention strategy was signed into law Oct. 21 2004, and the federal courts dismissal of Fields V. Palmdale School District, a lawsuit filed by parents whose children had been given a survey about sex at their CA elementary school, has set a judicial precedent that protects the administration of mental health screening programs over parental consent regulations.

The Freedom Center has composed a letter endorsed by mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors, mental health professionals, students, teachers, and parents and have begun to send it to area school superintendents, health officials, PTOs, and student organizations to raise awareness and generate opposition to screening programs on a local level. We are prepared to provide an in-depth follow up educational workshop on screening programs and methods to oppose their implementation to interested participants.

We are preparing to send our letter with its endorsers to MA house and senate representatives that supported the Garrett Lee Smith Act to raise concern over the bill’s preference for screening programs and generate a response to these concerns from our state’s legislators.

To join us in our campaign please sign onto our letter or contact us for more information.


Parents, students, teachers, mental health consumers and mental health professionals, non-profit organizations, and psychiatric survivors are calling on the community to recognize the threat mental health screenings pose to our health and well-being, and to take a stand against their implementation in our school and health care systems.

On Aug. 26 2004 the Bush Administration announced the New Freedom Initiative, a plan to reform and improve mental health care in America, that called for the establishment of mandatory mental health screenings in school systems and primary health care facilities in order to identify adults and children with warning signs of mental illness and refer them to treatment.

On Oct. 21 2004 George Bush signed into legislation the Garrett Lee Smith Act, the 1st youth suicide prevention bill, that mandates the use of mental health screening as a prevention and intervention strategy. Every state is now in the process of implementing mental health screenings through the school system.

We are asking the community to consider the information that exposes pharmaceutical sponsorship of screening programs, information that questions the validity of the diagnoses given by screening programs, data that questions the validity of mainstream treatments of mental illness, and the traumatic experiences of consumers and survivors of the mental health system and oppose the implementation of screening programs.


  • Screening programs utilize exams that use subjective questions such as “has there been a time when you have less energy than you usually do?” (1), take on average 10 minutes to complete, and oftentimes only allow for multiple-choice answers.
  • Screening programs stress their voluntary nature, however, parental consent forms are often “passive,” opt-out forms considered approved when no response is given, or students are not informed of the exams voluntary nature. (2)
  • In a pilot study of the TeenScreen program, a program named as a model by the New Freedom Commission, 1/3 of all those screened were diagnosed with a mental illness. If used as a model and extended to the entire American educational system, 17 million children and adolescents will be diagnosed with a mental disorder. (3)
  • Mental health diagnoses, outlined by the Diagnostic Statistics Manuel (DSM), are the only diseases in the medical profession to be determined in a vote by a committee with no valid scientific evidence (4) and have been under continual criticism for using subjective criteria as a basis for a diagnosis of a lifelong stigmatizing biological illness.
  • The New Freedom Commission’s original recommendations for the Texas Medical Algorithm Project as a model for treatment and TeenScreen were met with outrage by grassroots organizations for its overt pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and the resulting benefits for the pharmaceutical industry (5). The Bush administration has now publicly disavowed these programs as models, however, through the standard medical practice of prescribing brand name pharmaceuticals and the referral to treatment from screening program diagnoses the pharmaceutical industry will still see an increase in profit and expansion of consumer base (6).
  • In the past ten years the number of children prescribed psychiatric drugs has risen dramatically with over 8 million children currently on psychiatric drugs in the U.S. (7)
  • Screening programs are a new industry that relies heavily on the investment of pharmaceutical companies. Mental Health Inc., a screening program also named as a model by the New Freedom Commission is sponsored by Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer (8).
  • Pharmaceutical industry studies, often suppressed, themselves indicate that the true therapeutic value of their products, both generic and patented, are minimal, and pose grave life altering and even life-threatening side effects for users (9).
  • Many of the psychiatric drugs prescribed to children and adolescents are “off label” prescriptions. They have not been FDA tested for the purpose prescribed for and there is little to no information on what the side effects will be (10).
  • After various lawsuits by parents who have lost their children to suicide after they were prescribed anti-depressants the FDA has issued a black-box warning on the suicidal effects of anti-depressant medication (11). Britain has already outlawed the prescription of nearly every anti-depressant to minors (12). Yet the 1st youth suicide prevention bill will leave millions of adolescents vulnerable to treatment with anti-depressants.
  • The TeenScreen program has already been implemented in Brimfield, Illinois at an estimated cost of $100 per student. It will cost the Brimfield High School alone $20,000 for the first semester (13).

Mental health screenings are in the process of becoming mandated for every American. Many of us have experienced 1st hand the crippling effects of a psychiatric diagnosis. While many chose to use pharmaceuticals and accept their diagnosis to understand and manage their emotional states that choice is a luxury that is not extended to the majority of people who come in contact with the psychiatric system. Our legal rights to informed consent on medications and diagnoses and information about alternative treatment options are rarely upheld. Many of us have been told definitively that we have a chemical imbalance that we will never recover from and that we will need medication for the rest of our lives. Mental health screenings will extend this experience to millions of other Americans but will 1st target children and adolescents.

Childhood and adolescence are critical stages of development when identity and crucial life and coping skills are formed. The diagnoses imposed on children by mental health screenings and the resulting treatments will dramatically alter the process of their development and severely limit their ability to find healthy methods to deal with their emotions.

The contributors and endorsers of this letter strongly urge parents, students, teachers, school boards, school committees, school administrators, and the staff, practitioners, and patients of primary health care facilities to oppose mandatory mental health screening programs in favor of mental health programs that meet real emotional and psychological needs.


The Freedom Center

Oryx Cohen

Abigail Adams

Will Hall

Mollie Hurter

Amy Bookbinder

Laura Wieland

Catherine Simon

Dianne Dragon

Colleen Braak

Staff Survivors Network

Lee Shuer

Sera Davidow

Mind Freedom Support Coalition International

David Oaks

Celia Brown

Recovery Empowerment Network

Jerry Reid

Ann Rider

Arise for Social Justice

Out Now

Paloma House

Tarnation Films

Jonathan Caouette


Jim Gottestein

Giorgia Alexander JFK middle school student

Xernay Aniwar JFK middle school student

Linda Famosi Safe Passage

Delphine Brody

Kim Darrow

Janet Shepard

Arlene Diaz

Xenia S. Will, LCMHC

George Ebert

Eva Dech

Will Brady

Denise R Ur

Laura Borst

Ernie Reynola

Galina Sergen

Drake Eubank

Janet Morgan

Kelly M

Brooke Oddy

Rebecca Snay

Janet Paleo

Judene Shelley

James Rye

John Paul Whiting

Eve Remba

Daniel Hazen

Iris Wallace

Arielle Marks

Ruth Ann Faust

Pam Bockol

Rachel Dailey

Kimberly Milberg

Holly Richardson

Sara Kas

Jerusha Thomas

Emily Brisban

Zoe McDonnell

Delilia L. White

Alison Eromin

Paul Mailloex

Karen E. Love

Opeyemi Pauhorn

Milo Ray

Karen Kowles

John V. Castagna

Bob Gillespie

Elizabeth LaRouche

Donald F. Raymond

Erin Jackson

Emily Geminder

Cheryl Stevens, M.D.

Lisa Darbyshire

Irim Azam

John Clinton

Addison Greenwood

Maria Diran psychology student


(1). <>

(2). The lawsuit filed by Illinois parents for violation of parental consent laws through administration of the mental health screenings in their daughter’s school.


(4). Paula Caplan. They Say Your Crazy: how the world’s most powerful psychiatrists decide who’s normal. Perseus Book Group. 1995.

(5). Rob Waters “Medicating Aliah” Mother Jones May/June 2005 Issue


(7). <>

(8). The funding sponsors for Mental Health Screening Inc are all pharmaceutical companies.

(9). Robert Whitaker. “The Case Against Antipsychotic Drugs: a 50 year history of doing more harm than good.” Medical Hypothesis. 2004. 62. p. 5-13. (

(10). Vera Sharav “America’s Overmedicated Children” Alliance for Human Research Protection.

(11). The summary of the minutes and results of the FDA committee vote to issue a black box warning for the risk of suicidality in antidepressant use. ac/04/minutes/2004-4065M1_Final.doc

(12). Sarah Boseley. “50,000 children taking antidepressants” The Guardian UK.,3604,1045902,00.html

(13). Peoria Illinois Journal Star July 11,2005


General Resources:

The Information Collective

MindFreedom International

The Alliance for Human Research Protection

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