Back in 2003, a national commission created by President Bush recommended expanding and improving health screening package in universities to offer aid as early as possible to pupils with learning problems or individuals who may turn violent or disruptive.
The commission highlighted one means of early identification, the Columbia University “TeenScreen” program, which allow students — with parental consent — to get a mental health “check-up” through a computer-based questionnaire before graduating from high school.
The commission’s 86-page report contained this proposal among a lengthy list of recommendations to enhance the U.S. mental health program. The report attracted little attention beyond mental health circles.
But in the last two years, a cottage industry of fiery resistance has grown up round the proposition to expand mental health programs from the schools and is now a popular rallying cry for conservatives who view it as unwarranted government intervention in family life.
Opponents of school-based mental health plans stage to parents who say their kids are misdiagnosed with problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and forced to take drugs under stress from school officials.
For these parents, the commission proposal to “enhance and enlarge” college mental health programs would be your first, inexorable step toward compulsory college mental health screening for many pupils, and compulsory medication for all, despite repeated assurances by commission members, college officials and congressional experts that this will not occur.
Led by groups such as Ablechild.org and EdAction, these parents wish to prohibit schools from having anything to do with the mental health of the pupils, stating it’s the task of parents to make sure that their kids ‘ well-being.
As a first measure, the groups are pushing Congress to pass laws, sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., and supported by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to prohibit some federal financing for health screening package of students without the written approval of their parents.