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Mandatory Mental Health Screening for Children 0 to 18 Coming

The members of the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership ended a public form early following testimony from an overwhelming number of program supporters who agree that mental health screening is needed for Illinois children ages zero through 18. The Illinois plan is the first in the nation to have progressed thus far, but many parents and other oppenents say the mandatory testing is an invasion of parental rights. Others are concerned that pharmaceutical companies will benefit tremendously from having an explosion of young children diagnosed with hyperactivity or ADHD whose parents are told that their children need Ritalin or another psychotropic drug.

In the proposed plan, mental health assessment will be added to the state's physical examination certificate, along with mandatory immunization records. All children in Illinois, unless religiously exempt, are already required to have up-to-date health examinations and immunizations for school entry. The $10 million set aside for the mandatory screening is likely to be simply for the start up, but the recourse may be minimal for those who are not happy with the program, however. It is already law, it was signed into place last year.

Jon Rappoport July 23, 2004

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