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TeenScreen is a controversial diagnostic psychiatric service that conducts mental health screening on students and adolescents in public and private schools, doctor's offices, clinics, youth groups, shelters, and other youth-serving organizations and settings. It is claimed that this screening is often done without the knowledge of the student's parents, and that it only requires passive consent.
In many cases, students who are screened are given a psychiatric label, and end up being prescribed psychotropic drugs.
An example of the wording of this passive consent follows:
- October 23, 2005
- Dear Parent or Legal Guardian,
- A new program developed by Columbia University called TeenScreen is being initiated at Vail Middle School for seventh grade students. The program screens students for potential mental health concerns. TeenScreen is a computerized interview and all information will be kept confidential.
- Students will be able to participate in TeenScreen starting on Nov.13th. Participation in the program is strictly voluntary. A professional will be on hand to speak with the students in private if there is a positive screen. As always, if there are any concerns about your child, you will be notified.
- Please complete the form below and return it to your child’s Homebase teacher if you do not want your child to participate in TeenScreen.
- Thank you,
- Project Coordinator
- I, the parent/guardian, of the below named child do not want my child to participate in TeenScreen.
- PRINT YOUR CHILD’S NAME: ____________________________________________
- (First) (Last)
- Parent/Guardian signature__________________________________ Date: _________
- ** RETURN TO YOUR CHILD’S HOMEBASE TEACHER **
It is the subject of a lawsuit in at least one case in Indiana. ( http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/331/7519/714-a/DC1 )
As of October 2005, TeenScreen currently counts in excess of 400 active screening sites in 45 states. Missing from the list of states where TeenScreen has been established are: Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas, and Alabama.
Referral to Treatment
Before screening takes place, TeenScreen partners with local mental health providers. This creates an especially sticky controversy for TeenScreen, leading many to conclude that TeenScreen is nothing but a slick marketing scheme to benefit psychiatric drug companies. Bolstering this point of view is the fact that TeenScreen's executives and advisory board members have clear-cut ties to these same drug companies. The symptoms that TeenScreen uses as the detection criteria for "mental illness" can also be caused by genuine physical illness, allergies, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, drug abuse, and toxic exposure. Yet TeenScreen only refers students for mental health treatment, rather than recommending any proper medical testing or referral to any non-psychiatric practicioners.
- TeenScreen.org - TeenScreen Program (official website)
- AntiDepressantsFacts.com - 'Bush Administration, Columbia University & "Teen Screen Program"', Charly Groenendijk (June 25, 2004)
- PsychSearch.net - 'A Front Group for the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex: Procedure on Young Children'
- TeenScreen.blogspot.com - 'TeenScreen'
- Scoop.co.nz - 'TeenScreen - The Law Suits Begin' (opinion), Evelyn Pringle (June 2005)
- TeenScreenFacts.com - 'TeenScreen Alert: Say No to TeenScreen'
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