The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) in essence requires health insurance companies to ensure that mental health benefits are to be no more restrictive than those applied to medical and surgical benefits. For those suffering with mental illness this can be a lifeline. We do need to ask ourselves if one of the unintentional ramifications of MHPAEA is the use of these benefits to pay for medication that is harming our children? If this is true then that would be a human rights violation. Below is a Close to Home Article that I sent to the Press Democrat. They did not publish it, but rather chose to place the responsibility of the misuse of psychotropic medicines on the doctors and the patients.
Sent: Friday, April 05, 2013 11:35 AM
Subject: Close to Home
It takes a village to raise a child
Psychotropic medicines can be a life line for children who suffer from serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder etc. Over the past months the Press Democrat has published a series of articles about ADHD. I found it disturbing the excuses used to justify the misuse of these psychotropic drugs. How can the loved ones’ of children that actually need psychiatric medicines trust a system that advocates using drugs to “modify the kid” because it's cheaper? Can there be a legitimate excuse for any educator to consider the improper medicating of our children too controversial to talk about? Advocacy groups that claim to protect the welfare of our children have been very quiet on this issue. Are they doing enough to protect our children?
In the October 10, 2012 article titled “Struggling Students Prescribed Stimulants” the Press Democrat reported about a doctor who prescribes Adderall to children because “we decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.” “Prominent California educators” were quoted as saying that they“…considered the subject of ADHD so controversial … — that they declined to comment”. According to the April 1, 2013 front page article, “Worries Rise on Surge in ADHD” we have had a 53% increase in children being diagnose with ADHD and a corresponding 125% increase in the sale of medication with a known side effect of creating psychotic breaks!
Families need to be able to trust professionals to act in the best interest of their children; this includes policy makers, health care providers, businesses, law enforcement, educators, advocacy groups, etc. Whether we like it or not, we are all accountable to act in the best interest of our children. After all, it" takes a village to raise a child" and "a child to raise an adult." According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Sonoma County Newsletter of Oct. 2013, Sonoma County exceeds “state averages in recurrent child maltreatment... This issue may be a factor in Sonoma County teens exceed[ing] the state average in all areas of high-risk behavior: Drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness and youth violence..., and Sonoma County has a higher than average rate of high school suicides. Children may suffer from negative labeling and may be at risk of being improperly diagnosed and medicated.”
Part of the definition of child abuse is the “failure to safeguard a child from” “willful cruelty,” and the inflicting of “mental suffering, … when the child is under a person’s care” (California Penal Code 11165.14). If a child's educational environment is such that a Doctor needs to prescribe psychotropic drugs to change the child, isn't that “recurrent child maltreatment” or “systemic child abuse? Are the Press Democrat articles outing the community for violating California Penal Code 11165.14?
We need to reconsider the system of laws written at a time of a different understanding of the brain and pedagogical theory. The cost of this maltreatment exceeds the cost of smaller class sizes and appropriate psychiatric medical care of our children. Most educators, doctors and mental health experts would agree that there is no issue that is too “controversial” to talk about when it comes to the welfare of our children. They go into these professions to help children not to be mean to them. Putting pressure on our medical systems and schools to address this issue empowers the good people to reform their beloved institutions from within. Let's talk about the negative labeling and improper diagnoses and improper medication of our children without placing blame on the parents.