Brain Games

Is the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health just another ploy to invade your space?

| March / April 2005


Imagine that your daughter's school has called to inform you that her annual mental health exam suggests she has a mood disorder. What's more, her treatment requires each family member to fill out a psychological questionnaire. The survey is deeply personal, ranging from family history to drinking and sexual habits. Some of your answers could, if they're misinterpreted, indicate a higher risk factor for your daughter. Should you lie about being treated with anti-depressants? And if you tell the truth, who will see your records, now that they're permanently archived?

According to some human rights advocates and psychiatric abuse survivors, this sort of scenario could, if the Bush administration has its way, become commonplace. In fact, watchdogs on both the right and the left are worried that the compulsory mental health screening of every man, woman, and child in America -- along with mandatory drug therapy for all those deemed to have a disorder -- is just around the corner.

The concern stems from an executive order George W. Bush signed in 2002, establishing the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, an effort to study the U.S. mental health system and to recommend improvements. The final report, released in July 2003, calls for mental health screening in schools and primary health care settings. The document appears to be well intentioned, if overly ambitious, touting mental health intervention as a cure for the social ills of drug addiction, unemployment, homelessness, and incarceration. A road map for implementing the so-called New Freedom Initiative is reportedly in the works.

But an article about the report, posted last spring on the British Medical Journal's Web site (bmj.bmjjournals.com), alarmed both civil liberty advocates and civil libertarians. Citing ties between the Bush family and the pharmaceutical industry, the article implied that the New Freedom plan is a ploy to ramp up drug profits.



In the libertarian-leaning Chronicles (Oct. 2004), author B.K. Eakman, executive director of the National Education Consortium, worries that conservative and Christian students would be discriminated against if psychological screening becomes a federal mandate. To support his contention, he cites a 2003 National Institute of Mental Health and National Science Foundation study that found that 'traditionalists are mentally disturbed.'

It's hard to know what to make of such claims, in part because the mainstream media have all but ignored the issue. Mindfreedom.org, a coalition of those who say they've suffered abuse inside the mental health system, places some of the blame for the scarce coverage on the American Psychiatric Association, which allegedly cooperated with the Bush administration to remain silent on the subject.

Michael_4
5/12/2009 1:45:21 PM

I have been working in the brain fitness space since 2001 and we have come along way. There has been significant scientific studies over the last 5 years that illustrate how we can maintain and develop our cognitive skills through our lifespan. Our company has started to launch pilots that provide more efficacy to our software. I truly believe the next 5 years will see a lot of positive developments in this area. Michael www.fitbrains.com


Michael_4
5/12/2009 1:44:41 PM

I have been working in the brain fitness space since 2001 and we have come along way. There has been significant scientific studies over the last 5 years that illustrate how we can maintain and develop our cognitive skills through our lifespan. Our company has started to launch pilots that provide more efficacy to our software. I truly believe the next 5 years will see a lot of positive developments in this area. Michael www.fitbrains.com