New research about mental health and kids shows a skeptical public, but the study's author feels that the skepticism is unjustified:
"The results show that people believe children will be affected negatively if they receive treatment for mental health problems," says study author Bernice Pescosolido, director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, in Bloomington.Let's see: you can't serve in the military, many job's rightfully explore the job-seeker's mental health and a person who has suffered with mental illness since childhood would likely be excluded from a job, insurance rates would be higher (those with mental health issues use all health care services more) and the list goes on and on. It is deeply disingenuous of the doctors and psychologists to imply that there are no negative side affects from seeking mental health services (and claiming so on insurance).
Also disingenuous is this statement:
Normalizing these conditions would help too, Quinn says.
"We need to view depression and ADHD like we do allergies," she says. "They are very treatable."
No, mental illness is not "very treatable". In fact, depression is very difficult to treat both in children and adults. In addition, many of the treatments have nary a study to document efficacy. There is so much unsubstantiated garbage passing as fact in the profession, that parents are often misled about treatments. (For more on this, read Destructive Trends in Mental Health--links below.)
Here are the results of the survey of 1300 American adults:
These results seem perfectly reasonable and rational to me.
•85% of those interviewed believed that doctors overmedicate children with depression and ADHD and that drugs have long-term harm on a child's development. More than half believed that psychiatric medications "turn kids into zombies."
•40% of respondents thought children with depression would be dangerous to others; 31% believed children with ADHD would pose a danger.
•45% said rejection at school is likely if a child goes for treatment, and 43% believe that the stigma associated with seeking treatment would follow them into adulthood.
Happy kids don't look for their parent's handguns, now do they? Happy kids don't commit suicide. Happy kids don't pick on other kids. Happy kids don't kill cats or otherwise torture animals. Happy kids don't self-mutilate. There are a whole host of things happy kids don't do that depressed kids do.
I don't know if the study's authors have been in a Special Ed room lately, but the behavior kids invariably are diagnosed with ADHD and on some sort of medication. In my son's class, Mr. ADHD was the one who attacked the teacher. Of course, not all hyper children are violent. And most hyper children shouldn't be on Ritalin either. The fact that 90% of all the Ritalin in the world is taken by United States children should be a cause for concern among the mental health profession like it is the vast majority of American parents. Strangely, save for a few, most give out these stimulants more freely than your corner drug dealer.
This survey just proves to me how out-of-touch the mental health profession is with the real world. Reasonable people just don't buy the professions pathologizing of normal kid behavior. Not to mention, this generation still remembers how effective a well-timed, and deserved, good whack on the rear was for reducing hyperactivity. A miracle cure. Instead, every out-of-control parent with every out-of-control child looks for medication to manage behavior.
In rare instances, there is a biophysiological reason for the problem, but my experience has been that diet changes and other life-style changes can go a long way to help most kids. Save the medication for the seriously disturbed children.
There would be more empathy for mental illness, if it didn't seem like everyone, and so many children, were categorized as mentally ill these days.