Every child in Illinois government schools will be subjected to intrusive “mental health” screenings and data-gathering schemes starting this fall under a controversial new state law, opening the door for further mass-medicalization and surveillance of children as well as huge profits for politicians’ Big Pharma campaign donors. Critics are sounding the alarm.
The measure, adopted under the state’s Wellness Checks in Schools Program Act, is aimed at dealing with what policymakers describe as an explosion of “mental health” problems among children. The trends have been getting worse for years. But the government responses to COVID such as school shutdowns and mandated face masks reportedly caused a dramatic spike in mental issues.
Harvard-trained psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin, celebrated around the world for his war on psychiatric quackery such as lobotomies and electro-shock “therapy,” sounded the alarm about the Illinois plan. “This will lead to the mass medicalization of children — even more than is already being done to them — and create a storehouse on distorted psychiatric data and diagnoses that can ruin their lives,” he warned the Illinois Family Institute.
However, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Sanders, a major advocate for the scheme, said it would help identify problems with children before they supposedly get out of hand. “Universal mental health screening can save children’s lives by identifying the symptoms of depression, substance use disorders, and suicidal ideation before students reach the point of crisis,” he argued.
“In the midst of a nationwide youth mental health crisis, I am proud to see so many Illinois school districts leading the way toward implementing life-saving universal mental health screening of students,” added Sanders. “With additional guidance and a thoughtful, intentional plan, we can help all districts close gaps in access to universal mental health screening.”
Democrat lawmakers behind the plan also touted it as a way to tackle the “youth mental health crisis” afflicting not just Illinois, but the whole country. “Universal mental health screening for all K-12 students is a crucial step to ensure our schools can serve as social and emotional supports for their communities,” claimed State Representative Lindsey LaPointe (D-Chicago).
Illinois politicians, like politicians across the country, receive enormous campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies, which shower millions of dollars on state lawmakers. In Illinois, four out of five of the state’s 177 elected lawmakers received campaign contributions from the industry, according to a 2020 analysis by STAT news. Many of the officials behind the plan have received Big Pharma money, records show.
Details of what the mental screenings will look like are still being worked out. Experts quoted in media reports suggested that each student would spend at least 15 minutes having a one-on-one conversation with a social worker or mental-health counselor. What would happen with the information gleaned from those conversations remains unclear. Starting in the fall, all students will be screened every year.
According to officials cited in the press, the screening sessions would have the professionals search for signs of depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts. Once identified, those students would be referred to psychiatrists and psychologists for “treatment,” almost certainly including various psychotropic drugs that experts have long warned about.
Legendary psychiatrist Dr. Breggin, whose work exposing everything from lobotomies to Prozac has led to profound changes in the industry, warned that this was simply the latest iteration of a scheme that is not new. In fact, there is a long history of collaboration between “organized psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry” to “make a market out of children” by reaching them through their schools, he said.
The diagnosis of ADHD, for instance, which in the psychiatric diagnostic manual included many normal behaviors such as “difficulty sitting still,” was pushed hard by the U.S. Department of Education, including through seminars for teachers. “Instead of improving school, the kids were drugged, setting back educational reform to this day,” warned the renowned psychiatrist, author of “Talking Back To Prozac.”
While Breggin fought against it, somewhat successfully in terms of changing laws and policies, schools across the nation and beyond are still pushing for enormous numbers of children to be drugged over the diagnosis. Ironically, perhaps, many of the drugs being prescribed to children have suicidal and homicidal thoughts listed among the many horrific side effects.
Mass medication of children will soon be even more prevalent under the Illinois plan and similar schemes being pushed in other states. “The idea of screening school children for mental problems is equivalent to screening them for the drug market,” continued Breggin. “This will stigmatize increasing numbers of children, lead many of them to taking dangerous psychiatric drugs, and push some into a lifetime ‘career’ as mental patients.”
“Nothing is worse than telling a child they have a mental problem, first because it demoralizes them, and second because the problem, if there is one, is corrected by improving how we relate to them,” added Breggin, noting that psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry have “much too narrow an approach” to dealing with children’s problems.
Instead of pushing drugs on the children, Dr. Breggin argued for other approaches. “They mistakenly focus on the child, when children are highly responsive to their environments,” he said. “Their ‘problems’ may disappear with a different teacher or a different school. They can often be handled by helping the parents improve how they relate to their children.”
The new universal “mental health” schemes are also part of a broader trend in which responsibilities that have traditionally belonged to parents and families from the dawn of time are being shifted to government. This includes everything from overseeing mental and physical health to nutrition and dentistry. In short, parents are being gradually replaced by the state.
The screening plot in Illinois, like those being pushed in other states, is being justified largely by citing mass shootings and the explosion of suicides among children. And yet, for centuries before the government offered “mental health” services for children, such horrors were essentially unknown, even when guns were easily available and ubiquitous.
The key difference between now and then is that for all those centuries, American children learned about God and His laws and had strong families. They understood that they were made in the image of God, that He created them with a purpose, that their lives had meaning, and that morality — including notions of right and wrong — was an objective fact. They also had a mom and dad at home who loved them.
Today, much of that has gone out the window, especially due to propaganda from government schools and entertainment. These trends have also contributed greatly to other social problems such as criminality, delinquency, collapsing families, and even confusion surrounding basic identity and gender. All of it is fueling the ongoing disaster in children’s well-being that politicians claim to be concerned about.
Of course, the answer to this crisis is not more metal detectors, psychotropic drugs, police in schools, new indoctrination programs with the latest “social-emotional” fads, or replacing parents with godless government schools. In fact, those “solutions” merely pretend to deal with symptoms of the problem while doing nothing — or worse — to address the root causes. It is time to fundamentally re-think the whole system.