From the August 2004 Idaho Observer:
Illinois first to publicly jump on Bush's mental health bandwagon
The Whitecoats are coming. Illinois parents should be very active now lest their position be terminated by the state under child mental health plan provisions passed last year
CHICAGO -- The Illinois legislature has passed a law and appropriated $10 million to begin screening the state's children for mental illness, the Illinois Leader reported July 23, 2004.
The move gives Illinois the distinction of becoming the first state to participate in President Bush's sweeping initiative announced last June to assess the mental health of all Americans.
Finishing up a week of public forums, the members of the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership ended early in Chicago July 23 following testimony from an overwhelming number of program supporters who agree that mental health screening is needed for Illinois children ages zero through 18, reported The Leader.
The supporters indicated in the paragraph above were largely government employees, public health officials, pharmaceutical company representatives and mental health professionals who treat psychological problems with psychotropic drugs.
The week-long forum was attended by many parents who were not so supportive of the plan. They believe that a mandate to screen all Illinois children, ages zero through 18 is an invasion of their rights as parents.
This program will not be voluntary, Paul Schneider of Champaign told the task force. No one will be exempt. If a family doesn't want to accept the school's evaluation of their child's mental health, what recourse will they have?
Typically, if parents defy state mandates concerning what it deems to be proper parenting, the state's child protection apparatus will remove children from the home and initiate criminal prosecutions against the uncooperative parents.
The Leader reported that, Schneider said he is very concerned that pharmaceutical companies will benefit tremendously from having an explosion of young children diagnosed with hyperactivity or ADHD whose parents are told that their children need Ritalin or another psychotropic drug.
State Representative Patti Bellock (R-Wheaton) was a co-sponsor to the initiating legislation that passed last year, The Leader reported -- a subtle indication that the president's mental health screening agenda has been in the planning for some time. Bellock justified passage of the bill as being in keeping with the times. It was Bellock's opinion that social stigmas attached to persons with mental problems in previous decades was fading, and that the new mental health plan's intention is to create an awareness of mental health needs in the state's children.
In one sense, Bellock is correct as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in six American children are diagnosed as suffering a neurological or behavioral disorder. Stigmas will naturally fade as mental disorders among the nation's children become the rule rather than the exception.
In a flyer entitled Autism A.L.A.R.M. released to the public in January, 2004, the CDC cited the one-in-six statistic mentioned in the previous paragraph along with an estimate that one in 166 American children are currently being diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder.
The world's leading epidemiological watchdog does not publicly offer a theory as to why such epidemic numbers of children are becoming permanently braindamaged at such a young age. Autism A.L.A.R.M. is described as a tool to increase surveillance as a means to improve early detection so intervention with drugs can begin as soon as possible.
Schneider wanted to know who is going to be expected to pay for all this and, by what standards will children be determined mentally fit or unfit and who will have the responsibility of determining who is mentally ill and who will have the authority to make official diagnoses.
The $10 million earmarked by the legislature is only the startup capital for a program that could eventually cost billions. A report on the progress of implementing the plan is due by September 30, 2004, per provisions in the law signed by Governor Rod Blagojevich last year.
The Leader commented that Bellock understands questions will likely be raised as more people learn about the contents of the program. I am one of the appointed task force members, but I'm not familiar with all this contains, Bellock explained, admitting that she had not taken the time to read the entire report which explains the details of the plan she co-sponsored in the legislature with full knowledge that passage will affect every child and every parent in her state of 12.2 million residents.
Bellock recovered by recalling the Columbine shooting, which she believes are connected to young people who are depressed and with low self-esteem. She failed to mention that the Columbine shooters were on the same state-prescribed drugs with which administrators of her law intend to treat the depressed children of Illinois.
As a politician, Bellock is looking forward to interfacing with concerned citizens. There should be a lot of discussion and that's good to get us to the place where we can find consensus, she said.
Consensus, of course, is submitting to the will of the state with regard to identifying mental illness and drugging children.
The proposed plan says that depression affects a child's ability to learn and increases their propensity for violence, alcohol and substance abuse and other delinquent behaviors, The Leader reported.
The plan even calls for pregnant women to come in for an evaluation and check back in sometime during the first year of their expected baby's life.
The plan also details how the mental health assessment will be added to the state's physical examination certificate, along with mandatory immunization records. All children in Illinois, unless religiously exempt, are required to have up-to-date health examinations and immunizations for school entry.
Schneider commented that pulling your children from public school is not likely to shelter them from the state's mandate. He also expressed concern that an assessment of mental ill-health may be a judgment call on the part of the person doing the judging.
When a woman asked about how sexual orientation would be handled by the program, she then began to cast aspersions on Catholics for the Church's strong convictions regarding homosexuality.
The exchange illuminates a serious issue. What if a gay or lesbian government employee is judging a child from a devoutly Catholic home? Will the state label the child and prescribe mood-altering drugs to him because he has been taught to believe homosexuality is an abomination?
We are here reviewing one of the largest recent attempts by the state to subvert, devalue and undermine parental authority in Illinois. 'Subvert' sounds harsh, and we recognize that many hours have been spent by many well-meaning people to draft this 26 page plan. No disrespect is meant, but our concerns must be presented, Karen Hayes, associate director of Concerned Women for America/Illinois told task force members today.
Hayes was frustrated that the state legislation became law with little or no fanfare or notice, even from conservative, pro-family lawmakers. She suggested at the end of today's testimony, In summary, it is neither beneficial to children, nor to taxpayers, to ask government bureaucracies to set competency standards for mental health.
With some amount of lightheartedness, may I propose that the mental health of the perpetrators of this concept be evaluated?
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