The full-court press is on for increasing mental health services for children in the state, with a price tag of $400 million, so far. Given that there is zero science to support any psychiatric diagnosis being an actual brain abnormality, one can only surmise that mental illness will skyrocket and the $400 million is a drop in the bucket of the actual costs. This time around will there be any real accountability?
As has become the norm, the Sandy Hook shooting incident is invoked in order to justify the massive increases, despite the public having no documentation to support that Adam Lanza was not receiving, or that he even needed, mental health treatment in the five years leading up to the shooting. To date, no documentation has been made public that would suggest Lanza was, or was not, receiving mental health treatment beyond the brief and unsuccessful stint at the Yale Child Study Center in 2007.
To assume that the children of Connecticut need increased mental health treatment and services, because of what occurred at Sandy Hook, simply is not supported by factual documentation. In fact, because no information about Lanza’s mental health, after 2007, has been made public, why isn’t it just as likely to assume he was receiving the best mental health services money could buy?
More interesting, though, is the fact that the enormous increase in mental health spending does little, to nothing, to provide any accountability of where and how the money will be spent. As far as AbleChild is aware, there is no legislative language that will make any data readily available to taxpayers interested in following the hefty mental health expenditures.
Is it of interest to the taxpayers whether there is a large increase in the number of children being diagnosed with a subjective psychiatric diagnosis? Is it of interest how many of the children newly diagnosed are then prescribed dangerous, even deadly, psychiatric drugs as “treatment?” Furthermore, without some kind of data collection system, how will the state actually know if the funding is going toward the intended purpose?
The state is not known for its willingness to make important information publically available, as is evident in the clamp-down on any specific mental health data relating to Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza. Even when language is written into legislation, mandating data be publically accessible, there is no follow-through.
For example, Public Act 06-196* became effective in June of 2006. The Act mandated that the Department of Children and Families shall, within available resources and with the assistance of the University of Connecticut Health Center:
- Establish guidelines for the use and management of psychotropic medications with children and youths in the care of the Department of Children and Families.
- Establish and maintain a database to track the use of psychotropic medications with children and youths committed to the care of the Department of Children and Families.
To date, AbleChild is unaware of any database that would readily provide the information subject to the Act. Why? The public should not have to spend hours, or days, hunting through every state agency to obtain this important information… or whether the database even exists. And this Act has been around for nearly a decade.
Based on what clearly is a failure on the part of state agencies to track this information, what makes taxpayers believe there will be a “better” accounting of the $400 million allocated for new mental health services?
After all, by anyone’s measure, $400 million is a lot of money. Certainly the public deserves some accounting of how the money is spent. Along with all the hype associated with the new mental health services programs, will lawmakers act responsibly and institute a program that will actually track the numbers of children being diagnosed and drugged? And, more importantly, will that information be made publically available on a yearly basis?
Don’t count on it. The state is great at telling the taxpayer what mental health services are needed, but it has a pathetic track record when it comes to accounting for the hundreds-of-millions spent on mental health services.
* Public Act 04-238
An Act Concerning Child Poverty and the Use of Psychotropic Medications with Children and Youth in State Care
Sec. 17a-21a. Guidelines for use and management of psychotropic medications. Database established. The Department of Children and Families shall, within available resources and with the assistance of The University of Connecticut Health Center, (1) establish guidelines for the use and management of psychotropic medications with children and youths in the care of the Department of Children and Families, and (2) establish and maintain a database to track the use of psychotropic medications with children and youths committed to the care of the Department of Children and Families.
(P.A. 04-238, S. 2; P.A. 06-196, S. 112.)
History: P.A. 06-196 made technical changes, effective June 7, 2006.