"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly." The clever deception known as TeenScreen mental health screening.
"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly, 'tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy." In Mary Howitt's classic poem of 1821, the spider leads the unsuspecting fly to its death by clever deception. Today, children as young as nine are led into a web of invasive tests, psychiatric treatment and a lifetime of drugs by the clever deception known as TeenScreen mental health screening. From the outside, TeenScreen's parlor may look safe, even pretty. But inside, horrors await. Invasive and leading questions make any child wonder whether he can even trust himself. TeenScreen will not voluntarily give these questions to anyone, even parents, but you can find the actual survey at: click here http://ahrp.blogspot.com/2007/01/almost-50-of-teens-screened-for-mental.html
Unsuspecting parents are not told what will happen to their children once in the trap. Results can include being "branded" for life with a "mental illness", prescriptions to mind-altering psychiatric drugs, placement in "special education classes" and more. In some states the parents may be charged with neglect or have their children taken away if they refuse to give them drugs to control behavior. "The way into my parlor is up a winding stair," the poem's spider says. Teen Screen's stair winds through a myriad of curious "mental illness labels" from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM- IV). The TeenScreen survey asks leading questions designed to mimic the list of symptoms for Social Phobia, Panic, Generalized Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive, Depression, Alcohol Abuse, Marijuana Abuse, and Other Substance Abuse. Through the DSM-IV normal reactions to life are re-labeled as symptoms of "mental illness". Using the DSM criteria, a psychologist, psychiatrist or medical doctor may determine that the child has "Sibling Rivalry Disorder", "Conduct Disorder", "Written Expression Disorder", or the all-encompassing, "Phase of Life Problem Disorder." Of course, anyone who doesn't want treatment has a "Noncompliance with Treatment Disorder." Teen Screen is a misrepresentation. It purports to locate and handle loss of self esteem which could lead to suicide; yet it burdens the children with labels of mental illness that confirm and excuse any lack of ability to cope with life. Tested and labeled, they feel worse about themselves. 15 year old Chelsea Rhoades' experience with TeenScreen is a case in point. Unbeknownst to her parents, she spent 10 minutes answering questions such as: "Have you often felt very nervous when you've had to do things in front of people?" "Has there been a time when you felt you couldn't do anything well or that you weren't as good-looking or as smart as other people?" and "Has there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you just weren't interested in anything?" Chelsea then waited in the hall and was pulled over to talk with a mental health center employee who told her she had two mental health problems. When asked on the test if she felt cut off from friends, she answered "yes." For this she was deemed to have a "Social Anxiety Disorder." However, the reason she felt cut off is that her parents did not allow her to go out on school nights. When asked on the test "Do you find yourself repeatedly doing something for which you have little or no control over?" she answered "yes." Because of that answer, it was decided she had "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder." The "something she had no control over" was having to clean house and do her daily chores. In defense of her parental rights, the prestigious Rutherford Foundation filed a lawsuit against the school system and the "mental health" clinic that intended to profit from screened children. Chelsea's mother, Teresa Rhoades, is circulating a petition against Teen Screen: http://www.petitiononline.com/TScreen/petition.html
Chelsea's misadventures with TeenScreen show very well that the test is flawed. Anyone can see that there is not one positive question on the test! There are no questions like: When you feel down and out, do you try to find something interesting or uplifting to do? Do you like to help people? Are there things you dream of doing? Do you think for yourself? Are there moments when you feel it is wonderful to be alive? The whole test is a complete "downer," with no chance to weigh the positive side of the person. Over and over a child is pounded with questions like: "Have you tried to kill yourself in the last year? Are you still thinking of killing yourself? Have you thought seriously about killing yourself? Have you often thought about killing yourself? Have you ever tried to kill yourself?" Like the parent who continually tells their child how terrible, inadequate and wrong he or she is, TeenScreen only "tests" the negative side. We've all observed this fact: the negative parent usually has a negative child. In the same way, the results of the negative Teen Screen are too often negative, and FALSE. Teen Screen did not originate from some altruistic group bent on helping people. It has strong ties to the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industry. It is the brainchild of psychiatrist David Shaffer, a paid consultant for pharmaceutical companies Hoffman la Roche, Wyeth, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. Shaffer is also the director of the Division of Child Psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Laurie Flynn, the current director of TeenScreen, is the former director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a controversial organization because of the extensive funding it receives from pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly. Teen Screen did not come from an altruistic need, for teen suicide is, in fact, going down. The last available study showed it accounted for only 0.0008% of the total U. S. teen population, falling by 25 percent in the last decade. Teen Screen clearly springs from an all-consuming desire to line psychiatric and pharmaceutical pockets. When TeenScreen hit one Colorado school system, 71% of those tested "positive" and were referred for further evaluation. Once children enter the "mental health" system, nine out of ten of them who see a psychiatrist are given psychotropic drugs, according to a study. The spider only pretended he was helping the fly; he merely meant to entrap, maim and kill to support his own hunger. TeenScreen does not help but only feeds the psycho-pharmaceutical industry. The chilling final line of Mary Howitt's poem gives valuable advice to parents about TeenScreen, "Unto an evil counselor, close heart and ear and eye, And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly." Readers, please read and sign this petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/TScreen/petition.html
Elyse Van Breemen is an author and activist, currently working on a book on psychiatric abuse. If you have a personal story to tell, please contact her