Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wilton CT, Home of TeenScreen Executive, Leslie McGuire

I find it interesting that the school system in this state that has been used somewhat as a model in CT for mental health screening/testing (and the implementation of later school start times and a whole bunch of other "health initiatives") is the Wilton School system, which is also the "home" to TeenScreen's Director, Leslie McGuire. Leslie McGuire, director of Columbia University’s TeenScreen Program, has lived in Ridgefield, CT, for the past 4 years, and is working toward a nationwide effort to identify young people with mental health risks.

Despite the fact that the number of teen suicides has declined and the rate of teen suicide in CT is very small, she and others are promoting these screening programs. Rob Caruano, former TeenScreen director stated to a reporter for the South Bend Tribune: "Teen suicides, while tragic, are so rare that (any) study would have to be impossibly huge to show a meaningful difference in mortality between screened and unscreened students. You'd have to be screening almost the whole country to reach statistical significance.''

In a recent article in the Ridgefield Press,(Dec 14 2006, TEENAGERS: Many students have suicidal thoughts, Ridgefield expert says) it is claimed that roughly 300 Ridgefield High School students have likely contemplated suicide, some 230 have made a suicide plan, and close to 160 have made an attempt, based on national statistics being extrapolated to Wilton's 1,750 teenagers. They also featured another article about this issue.

Apparently, Wilton's kids are struggling and really depressed and preoccupied with thoughts of wanting to kill themselves. McGuire claims that, “About 17% of U.S. high school students report having thought seriously about killing themselves in the past year, and 9% report having made a prior suicide attempt,”. McGuire claims that regarding more general mental and emotional troubles, “About 20% of U.S. teens have a mental disorder that causes some impairment and 10% have a disorder that causes significant impairment,”.

Furthermore she claims that parents cannot tell if their kids are having mental problems. “You look at the national statistics, it shows parents can’t tell. Most kids with mental illness aren’t known to their parents, aren’t known to school professionals, and they’re not getting the help that they need.”

McGuire has spoken to the Wilton/Ridgefield community. They have been sold on the TeenScreen program which screens for depression, anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol abuse disorders. She touts 15 years of research proving that her program accurately identifies teens who are at risk.

Ok - let me tell you a little bit more about TeenScreen that the Ridgefield piece neglected to mention:

These programs are really marketing programs by the pharmaceutical companies.
Check this funding diagram

Read the real scoop behind the players of this attempt to screen every school child in America.

Leslie McGuire has stated that TeenScreen has a big goal:
* “We — our goal, we have a big one. We want every child in America to get a mental health checkup.”
* “…we believe this is something that every child in America deserves.”
* “This is also something we believe should be an annual requirement …”
* “Our one group isn't going to be able to ensure that every child in America gets a mental health checkup so we're creating partnerships with advocates, state departments of mental health, with school districts, education associations, service agencies and other places so that they can help us create this new initiative. There are a number of organizations that have signed on and agree with our goal that every child in America should get a mental health checkup”.
During McGuire's presentation at the national NAMI convention June 2005:
* "Getting the kids to buy in is such an essential thing because for the most part, you're distributing the consent forms to the kids to bring home to their parents and bring them back. So you have to get their buy in, you have to get them interested in it." When asked about "incentives", McGuire replied: "Hollywood Video coupons, you get that regardless. Even if the form says no, you still get the reward."
One incentive for taking the test, some students admit, is a chance to miss class.

You can read more of her quotes here
One such gem is this:
Leslie McGuire admits that the TeenScreen program gives frequent erroneous indications (upwards of 84% according to TeenScreen founder, Dr. David Shaffer) that could incorrectly land kids in psychiatric hands and on psychiatric drugs: "...the TeenScreen does have a problem with false-positives..."
Knowing that McGuire is a local resident, answers the question as to why Wilton CT is one of the few school systems in CT to have been duped into subjecting their kids to this nonsense. Screening lines the pockets of TeenScreen executives (like McGuire) and the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry as well as scads of therapists and psychiatric doctors. Screening programs have been proven to cause suicide ideation, and to funnel kids into the psycho/pharmaceutical pipeline. They produce false positive identification, stress to families, and kids have ended up unnecessarily medicated. The lawsuits against school systems have just begun.

Contact your school boards, your state legislators, your tax associations, and other officials and let them know you don't want your tax dollars spent on the wholesale mental health screening of our kids.