Later in 2012, the Australian Government's 'Healthy Kids Check' will see General Practitioners (GPs / family physicians) begin screening three year old children for early signs of mental illness.
GPs will be trained to identify Indicators including:
~ temper tantrums
~ sleeping with the light on
~ extreme shyness
~ unwillingness to sleep in own bed, etc.
Whilst not occurring in all children, these are completely normal childhood behaviours, and yet children deemed to be 'at risk' will be referred on for additional help, where they may be incorrectly diagnosed, and/or given psychiatric drugs as 'early intervention'.
The Healthy Kids Check will also test for problems including allergies, hearing and vision, which will make this service seem attractive - at least to some parents.
The concerns are:
~ Behaviours described above are completely normal
~ Some parents will not question their doctors' findings and will therefore accept a diagnosis without seeking alternative advice, or trying to establish the cause of their child's behaviour
~ This kind of labelling will create a culture of paranoia whereby parents worry that their child has a mental illness because he/she throws a tantrum / is shy / is afraid of the dark!
~ Parents are being robbed of their right to parent their own children to encourage emotional wellbeing, to develop social skills and to overcome unwanted behaviours
~ Parents who fear the misdiagnosis of their children will in some case avoid medical help, to their child's detriment.
Children are born to parents who are entrusted to raise their own children, just as we all were raised. This new 'Healthy Kids Check' threatens Australian families by attributing responsibility for children's emotional wellbeing to the government and to health professionals trained by the government, using a flawed diagnostic tool.
Some of the $11 million dollars being spent on this program could be better spent educating parents about good nutrition and reducing the levels of toxins in our air, our water, our soil and our food.
Education is the answer, not toddler screening, drugs and overdiagnosis.