- AbleChild - https://www.ablechild.org -

DCF Post-Newtown Mental Health Recommendations May Put Children at Risk

In response to the 2012 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), last Friday, unceremoniously unveiled its plan to overhaul the state’s mental health system for children.

The ten-page draft report provides no specific details about the shooting at Sandy Hook and, worse still, provides no substantiating information that the shooter, Adam Lanza, lacked mental health services. This is of interest as the “draft” report – DCF’s recommendations – focuses on “early identification and intervention” of children.

The implication, of course, is that the shooting could have been avoided had Lanza received appropriate mental health services. The problem with using the Sandy Hook Shooting as the impetus for these state-wide mental health changes, is that Lanza did receive mental health services from a very early age.

While the state has refused to release any detailed information about Lanza’s mental health treatment, the investigative record clearly reflects Nancy Lanza’s early, and continuous, efforts to provide to Adam mental health treatment. In fact, Lanza was “treated” at the Yale Child Study Center – which, coincidentally, also took a leading role in drafting these recommendations.

Given the documented problems Nancy Lanza experienced with the Yale Child Study Center, after reporting adverse psychiatric drug reactions Adam was experiencing, Ablechild is concerned about the conflict of interest in having Yale participate in any mental health recommendations.

In fact, Ablechild would argue that it is a conflict of interest for any of the “stakeholders” who may benefit financially from any of the recommendations and would suggest that the complete list of “stakeholders” be made publicly available before any funding is appropriated.

Ablechild also is concerned that DCF strategies include training on infant mental health competencies. Psychiatric diagnosing is completely subjective – not based in science – and, therefore, is dependent on verbal responses, making the psychiatric diagnosing of infants questionable at best.

Because the DCF recommendations revolve around “early identification and intervention” and much of the focus is to train school personnel in the identification of mental illness, Ablechild has put together a list of recommendations that it believes are not only appropriate, but necessary in the face of DCF’s sweeping mental health recommendations.

Too much of DCF’s mental health recommendations for the state’s children revolve around increased identification and “treatment,” with no discussion of alternatives to dangerous and potentially deadly side effects of psychiatric drug “treatments.” There is too much at stake to allow these all-encompassing recommendations without some kind of public disclosure of the large numbers who certainly will be affected.

It’s bad enough that the drive for increased mental health services is based on the shooting at Sandy Hook, which, to date, no publicly available information to support the need for the increased services has been provided. But forcing parents to submit their children to mental health screening, without providing all information about the potential dangers is adding insult to injury.

Short of implementing the necessary safeguards that Ablechild recommends, parents and children in Connecticut may be subjected to unnecessary and even harmful mental health services and may border on human rights violations.