Government Programs Push Antidepressant Use on Small Children
July 20, 2006
Children in the foster care system, some as young as 3 years old, are being screen for mental illnesses and started on psychiatric drugs for disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Among children in foster care:
- 60 percent in Texas take psychiatric drugs
- Two-thirds in Massachusetts take them
- 55 percent in Florida take the drugs
Yet, according to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, drugs recommended to treat schizophrenia, biopolar disorder and depression, which were designated as first-line treatments by the Texas Medication Algorithm Project, have not been shown to be more effective or safer than non-drug treatments or older, less expensive drugs.
Further, the drugs were designed to treat adults and now, under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Action Agenda, may be used on children. One of the agenda's programs, called Foundations for Learning, calls for more federal funds and grants to states and agencies to, among other things, provide preschool screening and other services to support social and emotional development in children.
Although the federal government does not have constitutional authority to regulate mental health and early childhood issues, recommendations for mental health programs aimed at children as young as 3, and intervening with some children from birth, exist.
This has the potential to label infants with psychiatric disorders while creating an endless market for psychiatric drugs.