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The state of our mental health?

Ladies and gentlemen of the American public, our children are losing their minds.

The mental health of pre-adolescents is in rapid deterioration, childhood depression is going undiagnosed in too many cases, and if we do not begin a regimen of nationwide psychotropic drug prescriptions, we are more or less condemning our children to suicide. Therefore, on behalf of the President of the United States and the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, I announce the dedication of 25 federal agencies to the screening of our school children for what I will officially refer to as “hidden mental illnesses.”

It is important to remember that superficial characteristics such as satisfactory academic performance and typical childhood behavior might be masking agents for severe underlying mental irregularities. Believe it or not, many of our children (some as young as 2 or 3 years old) are suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and bipolar schizophrenia without exhibiting any palpable symptoms. However, certain subtle indications could signify the need for immediate anti-depressive treatment. If your child has a tendency to lose focus in school, speak out of turn, or experiences stress as a result of pre-adolescent pressures, necessary treatment options are readily available.

We are facing a silent enemy. The truth is we do not know enough about mental illness, only that it is a threat to the youth of America. Many have raised concerns as to why mental illness, especially in those below the age of medical consent, has made exponential gains in prevalence in recent years. I argue that there was a lack of sufficient testing in the dark ages of child psychology. Children would go years between visits to a mental health professional – some never visiting one at all. It is neglectful of parents to assume good health, especially considering we are at war with the human brain.

I am proud to mention, however, that great advancements have been made since the early 1990s, when childhood mental illness rapidly became an epidemic. Antipsychotics are the strongest (albeit the most lethal) of all psychotropic medications offered to adults. Nevertheless, as a result of our efforts, children are now allowed access to these medical miracles without any experimental data or approval. Also, according to the Alliance for Human Research Protection, we were able to increase teenage psychotropic drug use 300 percent from 2000 to 2003. Amphetamines, which have only proven to stunt adolescent growth by negligible amounts, are being used by 10 percent of boys aged 11 to 13 in the United States to fight the plague of mental dysfunction. And we are only beginning to make an impact.

Are there risks involved in our treatment options? Of course. ADHD drugs can cause impairment of motor function and judgment, arrhythmia, stroke, cardiac arrest and sudden death – but only 2,500 children are sent to the ER annually, which is acceptable in our ongoing war efforts. We must not deter parents from viewing medication as a viable option for their kids.

For this reason, the FDA has appropriately voted against placing a standard black-box warning label on psychotropic drug packages, even after 25 children died as a result of treatment. We are responsible for creating an inviting atmosphere for parents concerned with the excitable nature of their children, and there is no room for black-box warnings and fine print in such an atmosphere.

Still, there are parents unwilling to place absolute trust in doctors, and parents do reserve the right to make a final decision. In such cases, we may determine that a child is a suicide risk based on behavioral characteristics, which gives us the right to take the subject into medical custody and disallow communication with the subject’s parents for as long as we deem fit. After all, most parents do not have degree in medicine. It is our responsibility to prevent parental intuition from serving as a detriment to the future leaders of our glorious nation.

Now for some real facts: The federal “health care” organizations that regulate private drug companies are financially reliant on them, and in many cases, fully so. As a result, many doctors are indebted to their patient lists, working to add to those lists in order to remain employed. Dangerous antipsychotic drugs have reached fourth on the list of highest selling prescription drugs in the United States, earning $6.4 billion in 2002.

The Boston Globe reported that Rebecca Riley died Dec. 16, 2006 due to intoxication by valproic acid (anti-seizure medication used in overly aggressive individuals), clonidine (a powerful blood pressure medication rarely administered to children for aggression), an antihistamine and a cough suppressant. She was 4 years old. She was given cough medicine because she appeared to have a cold. In reality, her lungs were full of fluid and her internal organs were destroyed as a result of the medication and consistent overdose.

Dr. Kayoko Kifuji of Tufts-New England Medical Center diagnosed her with ADHD and bipolar disorder at 30 months old. The doctor had made the same prescription recommendations for Riley’s 6-year-old sister and 11-year-old brother. Not surprisingly, the Center backs Kifuji.

Mohammed Ibrahim is a senior majoring in pre-med biology.