Schools Should Not Have Programs to Detect Mental Illness

by | Feb 14, 2013

Of course no one wants another school massacre like the one that just occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary a couple of months ago.  So how do we prevent such a tragedy from happening again?  Some think having armed guards at schools will protect our kids.  Others think more mental health services and programs are the answer.  Any attempt at prevention is usually a good idea.  However, when mental health programs are implemented in schools to detect early signs of mental illness, it is actually harmful and destructive to students.

In the Miami-Dade school district, which is the fourth largest in the country, a mental health screening program called “Typical or Troubled?” will be adopted very soon.  The idea is to identify those with symptoms of mental illness early.  If those warning signs are present, then the student will be referred to a professional to get a mental health evaluation.  It is promoted that early treatment will prevent another school shooting.  It is claimed that  early detection and treatment will also prevent a student from developing a serious mental illness which makes it sound like a win-win for all.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The first problem that should be noted is the obvious conflict of interest.  The “Typical or Troubled?” program is sponsored by three drug companies that manufacture psychotropic drugs.  It was created by the American Psychiatric Foundation.   A Miami-Dade judge, who is on their board, presented the “Typical or Troubled?” program to the Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools.   Since early detection and treatment obviously means more mental illness diagnoses and treatment with psychotropic drugs, the conflict of interest is obvious.  The judge presented a self-serving aim of more business for psychiatry and profits for drug companies.

The second problem is that teachers, janitors and cafeteria workers will be trained to recognize symptoms of mental illness.  This is incredibly invasive and ridiculous.  Teachers go to college for four years or more to get a degree in education, yet these days schools across the country are not uniformly graduating well educated students.  How could it possibly be successful to add an additional duty when they are not getting the expected results in their regular job?  Isn’t this adding insult to injury?  As for cafeteria workers and janitors, they are just flat out just not qualified for this task.

The third problem is that this program is touting symptoms as if they are as legitimate as an x-ray shows a broken bone.  This is not the case, as the symptoms are arbitrary and not based on any science.  While all these people are being trained regarding signs of mental illness, it is doubtful they are being taught that all these symptoms are based on subjective opinions.  It is doubtful that they are being taught that there is no blood test, x-ray, urine test or any other scientific test to even prove the existence of any mental illness.  Sure there are symptoms but that is all they are.  Even psychiatrists themselves admit they that do not know the cause or cure for a mental disorder.

Some of the symptoms being taught are actually laughable.  Sleeping through class is supposedly is sign of mental illness.  Is anyone going to first ask if the student got a good night’s sleep?  Is anyone going to ask if he’s challenged enough by the material in his class?  Is anyone going to ask if he is bored?  How about questioning his diet or daily schedule?  How is it logical that sleeping in class is a sign of mental illness?  It is not.  It’s absurd.

Other symptoms supposedly are:  marked change in school performance, aggressive outbursts, opposition to authority, truancy, abuse of alcohol or drugs, threats to run away, strange thoughts and an inability to handle daily problems and activities, to name a few.  Anyone would agree that this is just a list of what can happen during those dreaded “teenage years.”  Teenagers can experience difficult times, but psychiatry has unjustly classified it as “abnormal” behavior.  The name “Typical or Trouble?” is the right choice of words, but teenagers are not one or the other but both, as teenagers are typically troubled.

Another problem is what about the likelihood that a student supposedly with symptoms is referred to get an evaluation, when the actuality is that the student really has no mental issues?  The judge said this scenario is a possibility but is not one to be concerned about.  He said the worst that could happen is that the student would get a mental health evaluation and if there’s nothing there, then so be it.  Considering the symptoms are typical teenage behavior, how likely is it that the result will be nothing there?  It’s more likely the student will be misdiagnosed with some fictitious mental illness and put on psychotropic drugs.

There’s no question that there is a hidden motive behind this program.  It is basically a marketing campaign to get as many young people as possible onto psychotropic drugs.   The psychiatric profession and the drug companies together put out arbitrary information unsubstantiated by any cold hard facts. 

They say fifteen million children have diagnosable disorders and most show symptoms by their mid teens.  Without any medical test for mental illness how do they know this?  They also claim that more than sixty percent are not getting adequate treatment.  That means not enough people are on drugs.  As a clincher, they aim to scare you by saying that suicide is the third leading cause of death for those between fifteen and twenty-four years old. 

What they really mean is if we mislead everyone into thinking that everybody has some kind of mental illness so that more screening is a good idea, then we can sell more drugs.  They pitch their program as a prevention tool for school massacres, only with the aim of selling more drugs.  “Typical or Troubled?” is not a safety net as the Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools stated, it is covert trap.

If students were being put on some harmless medication, there wouldn’t be any cause for concern.  However, psychotropic drugs can have serious adverse side effects such as aggressive behavior, hostility, mania, hallucinations, seizures, suicidal and homicidal tendencies. What this means is that as the proportion of students on drugs that cause suicidal and homicidal tendencies increases, then the more the likelihood that more school massacres will occur.  This is not prevention, but a disaster waiting to happen.

The good news is people of Florida have the right to informed consent.  This means that parents and students have the right to alternative treatments.  In other words, any Floridian can refuse a mental health evaluation or mental health treatment because it’s the law.  Just say no and find the true physical cause of those “mental illness symptoms.”  You will be healthier and happier as a result.



  1. Gracy

    In order to be seen as a credible and reputable resource (which I am assuming is your goal), it is best to include the date an article is published along with the author. It is also best to make sure that the authors of informative articles such as this one have an author that understands and has a doctorate in the area of study relevant to the article. To be clear, I am not saying that all articles that even reference psychiatry need to be written by psychiatrists, but articles with claims such as the ones written on this sight should include proper bibliographies and a credible author that cannot be confused with the dozens of other Laurie Anspachs on the internet (and the Laurie Anspach art school). It is difficult to give a source any merit if the article uses itself as a credible source and unvetted/unacademic blogs.
    In addition, while it is a legitimate concern that people are prescribed drugs for no reason besides making money, trying to fortify that argument by claiming that mental illness is fictitious. A child cannot take medication without parental consent, so a school cannot be giving unjustified prescriptions out if the parents don’t consent to it.

    • CCHR

      Thank you for your comment. Laurie Anspach was the director of CCHR in Florida for 10 years. Maybe this site will help with any questions you have on the labeling and drugging of children.

  2. Emma

    Who is the author of this article?

    • CCHR

      This article was written and posted under the leadership of Laurie Anspach.

  3. Claire

    I understand your first point, but I thoroughly disagree with your other points. I have seen many teenagers who do not get a good night’s sleep, and many of them are mentally ill by their own admission. Furthermore, there is a cause to mental illness – it’s a result of a shift in the biochemistry of the brain, and speaking on depression, serotonin production is not sufficient. Many of those symptoms you described are thought to be “typical troubled teenage behavior,” but threats of running away are not to be taken lightly. It is a serious issue, and those who act on it are truly mentally ill and needed attention months, if not years, before. Teenagers with depression are more often tired, as a result of the body trying to make it better (this is a normal reaction to any form of illness, whether it be physical or mental). I also truly do believe that it is well within a teacher’s right to see a student who needs help; speaking from experience, it meant the world to me when I had a teacher that I could speak with on such matters. As the name implies, mental illnesses are indeed a sickness and deserves treatment. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers. Furthermore, there is no such thing as a medication that doesn’t come with some severe side effects; it messes with the biochemistry of the brain, and that can negatively affect someone. Speaking as the child of a doctor, it has been ingrained into my brain that one must weigh the risks and benefits of medication; sometimes it isn’t worth the risks, but a lot of times, it can be. As someone who has to take a daily medication, I would be all for it if I never had to take drugs another day of my life, but that’s just part of my life. I can’t change that because I have a legitimate medical disorder that forces me to do so. Antibiotics are drugs. Tylenol is a drug. There are thousands of drugs out there, and I can guarantee you that not all of them are bad. I am saying this after the Parkland shooting, about six years after this was posted, and they have found that he didn’t receive sufficient treatment for his mental illnesses. It is because of people who try and shut mental health programs down that these issues continue to arise. Address the problem at its root. You claim to care about the safety of teenagers, but you also say that suicide is not a leading cause of teen deaths. I have known people who have attempted or have committed suicide. This article was written by someone who refuses to give up the negative stigma surrounding mental illnesses.

    • CCHR

      “I don’t believe I have ever heard a knowledgeable, well-trained psychiatrist make such a preposterous claim [that patients have a chemical imbalance], except perhaps to mock it…In truth, the ‘chemical imbalance’ notion was always a kind of urban legend—never a theory seriously propounded by well-informed psychiatrists.” –Ronald W. Pies, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, the State University of New York and Tufts University School of Medicine

  4. Jacob

    I can’t help but agree without a Travis, however I don’t think it’s a focus on your education on the issue that is the problem. The issue I find is in the implementation and the way it is presented. I do not agree with “Typical or Troubled” this name implies that the focus is on finding a specific group of mentally ill kids. I’ve always known “troubled” as being a bad kid or a child that acts outwardly either verbally or physically. Though I don’t disagree that kids who fall under this are troubled I feel that there are many kids who’s actions may be more subtle. I feel this plan is overgenralized and tries to put a bandaid on the problem. The issue isn’t solely with recognizing mental illness, but also educating both students and teachers at an early age to understand and interpret mental illness. Along with this a more available counselor system offered to both students and teachers would be incredibly beneficial. The idea that mental illness is something rare that you find with 1/10 students is a very destructive idea. Not only does the way this plan is described demonize the kids who act out in ways that set off red flags, but the fact that these kids are the ones weeded out as being “Mentally ill” causes kids who need help but don’t show it to avoid help as they view mental illness as being something you have when you misbehave. So altogether I feel this article, while very passionate and at times a bit forceful doesn’t completely miss the mark on this issue I’m glad this plan is getting labeled as ineffective and destructive because it is. The true solution requires more care and planning than teaching people to label kids as having issues then thrusting them into counseling they aren’t ready for for reasons they don’t understand.


    You are superstitious and ill read on this topic. Being someone who has a severe mental illness and knowing several people struggle with mental health issues, I can tell you for a fact that an excepting and understanding world would have been much better than the one of mistrust and ill advised motives that you write about. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t real and harmful.

    • Kylee

      You are absolutely right sir.


  1. NWEF - Should Schools Provide Mental Health Services? - […] pharmaceutical companies that make psychotropic drugs,” according to CNS News. Maybe there’s a conflict of interest here. If children…
  2. Color Revolutionizing The U.S. First & Second Amendments Out Of Existence | asymmetric world war - […] […]
  3. Sources – Cassandra's Blog - […] […]

Leave a Reply


Contact CCHR Florida

109 N. Fort Harrison Ave.
Clearwater, Florida 33755
Tel: 1-800-782-2878