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 NAMI Condemns Congressional Hearing for Putting Children at Risk

 Hearing Held By Michigan & Colorado Congressmen Was 
 Greatly Skewed, Inflammatory,' Contrasting with Recent,

 Congressional Actions on Mental Illness

 ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Alliance for the
 Mentally Ill (NAMI) is protesting a recent Congressional hearing held on
 "Behavioral Drug Use in Schools" for presenting a "skewed, inflammatory
 perspective" on issues surrounding the roles and responsibilities of
 parents, physicians and schools in screening children for mental illness and
 selecting treatment.

 U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) chaired the September 29th hearing of the
 oversight subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the
 Workforce, in which U.S. Rep. Bob Shaffer (R-CO) also participated.
 Witnesses included a member of the Colorado Board of Education.

 "The hearing offended me and thousands of other parents who conscientiously
 struggle to get diagnosis, treatment and support services for our children,"
 said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn in a letter sent today to Chairman

[Dr. Baughman:
Millions across the country have been deceived and lead to
believe that their children who seemed normal upon starting school have
psychiatric ‘diseases’, ‘chemical imbalances of the brain’ and that they
must have ‘chemical balancers’—pills. Believing thus, they are
offended, and, at the same time, as the true facts emerge, terribly
confused. The only question that must be answered, and it will need
answering by medical leaders—those of psychiatry, pediatrics, neurology
and family practice, is whether ADHD is a actual disease or not, that is
whether children thus labeled have a disease, or are normal. If they
are normal, none of them are ‘patients’ and none of them need
‘treatment’ certainly not with drugs known to be addictive, dangerous
and sometimes death-dealing. The Committee cannot possibly offend
anyone by seeking to get straight answers from the medical profession to
the question: Is it a disease—‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ And again, only leaders
from medicine (as above) can give you the scientific bottom line on
this. This is exactly what I call for in my appended testimony of

 "Unfortunately, the largely one-sided rhetoric presented at the
 hearing serves primarily to scare or discourage parents who are seeking help
 for their kids.  In that respect, it puts children at risk.

 "Our common goal should be to offer the highest standard of evaluation and
 appropriate treatment," Flynn said.

[Dr. Baughman:
This would entail competent diagnosis to determine whether or
not they have any disease. It would also entail relating to the parents
and the child that something they had been told was a disease—a disease
the child was said to have, has never been proven to be a disease, or
anything other than normal childhood behavior]

 "Some children do not need to be on medication.

[Dr. Baughman:
no child needs to be on medication who is free of

 But many children are not being screened at all. Some children
 need treatment and are not getting it.  Their entire lives will be affected
 by the failure to identify and treat their illnesses.

 "Some may even kill themselves," Flynn warned.  Suicide today ranks as the
 third-leading cause of death for youth, ages 15 through 24.

 Two physicians who testified before the subcommittee "hardly represented the
 main body of scientific expertise and opinion," Flynn said.  One called ADHD
 and other mental illnesses "a biological lie."

[Dr. Baughman:
I am happy to say that this was me and that their is no
science with which to refute my charge. Why else was Dr. Fassler
present, if not to present such proof, if he had it. Do they have some
other bearer of their science. It is nowhere to be found in the
legitimate scientific literature.]

 Another attacked the use of
 medications approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and shown to be
 effective for ADHD, calling them, inaccurately, "the most addictive drugs
 known in medicine today."

 The Colorado School Board member raised "an inaccurate, stigmatizing
 allegation" that violence is a side effect of psychotropic medications, and
 attacked assistance to children challenged by what she termed "vague
 psychiatric disorders."

 What the hearing did not mention was the landmark 1999 Surgeon General's
 Report on Mental Health, NAMI said, which provides the current national
 baseline for understanding mental illnesses and treatment options.  Almost
 21 percent of children, ages 9 to 17, today suffer from mental or addictive
 disorders.  Scientific reviews also indicate strong support for the "safety
 and efficacy" of several classes of medication for specific disorders,
 including ADHD.

[Dr. Baughman:
All that Surgeon General Satcher did was review the
psychiatric literature, and finding no proof, claimed, nonetheless, on
December 13, 1999, that "Mental illness is no different than diabetes,
asthma or other physical ailments…Mental illnesses are physical
illnesses…We know the chemical disorders we are treating…" At no time
has he offered proof a confirmatory abnormality by which to diagnose a
single one. He should be asked if he knows of any such proof and should
be invited to testify as to the nature of the proof.]

 The hearing also ignored two recent, major federal conferences on children,
 mental health, and psychopharmacology, which will provide the foundation for
 a Surgeon General's call to action later this year.

 "Neither the Surgeon General nor the National Institute of Mental Health
 testified at the hearing," said Flynn.  "Not a single family with children
 who have been successfully screened, diagnosed and treated was heard."

[Dr. Baughman:
I agree, with Ms. Flynn, who, it appears, has no medical
credentials herself, with which to speak on what constitutes a disease
and what does not—the Surgeon General, and the Director of the NIMH,
Steven Hyman, and all of the NIMH, ADHD researchers necessary, should be
brought before the committee and should be asked to share with the
Committee, the Sub-committee, and the nation, the proof that ADHD is a
disease, proof that I have been unable to find in the usual places for
all of the 20 years since the invention of ADHD and the start of the
labeling/drugging epidemic. To hear parents and others, who ‘believe’
but have nothing to say of the science, would not serve the purpose of
getting, at long last to an answer to the question: Is ADHD a
disease—‘yes’ or ‘no’. ]

 NAMI said the hearing stands in ironic contrast to one recently conducted by
 the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, which focused on the increasing,
 unfair burden that untreated mental illness imposes on individuals,
 communities, police officers, and the criminal justice system.

[Dr. Baughman:
Even here, it must be determined whether those things called
psychiatric ‘diseases’ are diseases at all. The rates of psychiatric
drugging in both the child/adolescent and adult penal systems are in
dire need of scrutiny.]

 emphasized the importance of the Education's Committee's role in supporting
 early screening, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness "as part of a
 greater continuum of social interests."

 Last week, Congress also approved several pro-science, pro-treatment
 measures as part of H.R. 4365, the Children's Health Act of 2000.  "Please
 do not ignore the existing, bipartisan consensus that already exists on such
 issues," Flynn asked.  "Please do not seek to undermine the progress that
 already is being made."

 With more than 210,000 members, NAMI is the nation's leading grassroots
 advocacy organization solely dedicated to improving the lives of persons
 with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder
 (manic depression), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and
 severe anxiety disorders.

 SOURCE  National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

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