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Bush's Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move

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Message Evelyn Pringle
The tax dollar funded mental health screening programs popping up in every corner of the nation represent an enormous gift to Big Pharma from the Bush administration. After all, drug companies can't push drugs without a lucrative customer base, so the screening programs are a great solution for that little problem.

On April 29, 2002, Bush kicked off the whole mental health screening scheme when he announced the establishment of the New Freedom Commission (NFC) during a speech in in New Mexico where he told the audience that mental health centers and hospitals, homeless shelters, and the justice and school systems, have contact with individuals suffering from mental disorders but that too many Americans are falling through the cracks, and so he created the NFC to ensure "that the cracks are closed."

In words relevant here, the late President Ronald Reagan aptly described government intervention this way: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

According to award-winning investigative reporter, Kelly O'Meara: "Nowhere is this quote more appropriate than when applied to George W. Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Heath."

A little over a year after Bush announced the formation of the NFC, on July 22, 2003, government report was released that called for redesigning the mental health systems in all 50 states. A press release previewing the report stated:

"Achieving this goal will require greater engagement and education of first line health care providers-primary care practitioners-and a greater focus on mental health care in institutions such as schools, child welfare programs, and the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The goal is integrated care that can screen, identify, and respond to problems early."

About 7 months later, on February 5, 2003, a subcommittee report was released titled, "Promoting, Preserving and Restoring Children's Mental Heath," and stated in part:

"The extent, severity, and far-reaching consequences of mental health problems in children and adolescents make it imperative that our nation adopt a comprehensive, systematic, public health approach to improving the mental health status of children."

The NFC's final report calls for screening every child in America, including preschoolers, and points our that, "schools are in a key position to identify mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services."

In addition, according to the final report, every child plugged into a government program, will automatically be screened in accordance with the following recommendation:

"Screening should be implemented upon entry into, and periodically thereafter in, the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, as well as in other settings and populations with known high risk, such as the Medicaid population."

"When mental health problems are identified," the report says, "youth should be linked with appropriate services and supports."

Critics say "appropriate services and supports" means doctor's prescribing drugs. According to the results of a 2002 survey of recently trained child psychiatrists, in the Journal of American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, nine out of 10 pediatric patients under their care were treated with prescription drugs.

The NFC specifically calls for all screening programs to be linked to "state-of-the-art treatments" using "specific medications for specific conditions."

The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) is the centerpiece of the NFC's recommendation for "specific medications." Algorithms are lists of drugs with guidelines that medical professionals must follow when prescribing medication to patients for specific mental illnesses, and contain flow charts that illustrate step-by-step prescribing process.

The TMAP drug lists and guidelines were developed and approved in Texas while Bush was Governor, through an "expert opinion consensus" by a panel of medical professionals chosen by the pharmaceutical sponsors of the program that included Janssen Pharmaceutica, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Astrazeneca, Pfizer, Novartis, Janssen-Ortho-McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott, Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyeth-Ayerst and Forrest Laboratories.

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.
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