Monday, July 11, 2005

Are Your Legislators Paying Attention to You?

I don't think some of mine do. And they either don't do their research with their staff or it doesn't suit their whims.
I'll start at the top. Know the prez is busy with this and that so I don't expect a personal reply to little ole me, but acknowledgement by the oodles of tax payer supported staff would be nice. Maybe I got one form letter back. Can't remember, but I've written a time or two about various issues.

Then there's the Senators. Senator Durbin sent me this response. Note the date because as far as I can tell looking in my ridiculously huge archives, his letter was in response to a letter I wrote on October 22, 2004:
Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2005 10:30 AM

Subject: Message From Senator Durbin
May 3, 2005

Ms. Susan Ryan

Dear Ms. Ryan:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recommendations of the
President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

I understand your concerns about mandatory screening. In its July 2003
final report, the Commission recommended a transformation of our nation's
approach to mental health care. Early detection of mental illness is one
of the goals of a transformed mental health system. Emotional and
behavioral problems in children and teens that go undetected or untreated
frequently persist, often leading to school failure, poor employment
opportunities, and poverty in adulthood. Early detection could help
families address these problems before they become critical.

However, the Commission did not recommend mandatory screening of all
children to identify those at risk of mental health problems because the
research on screening for children is inadequate. Also, no legislation
has been introduced to mandate screening.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your views.


Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator


P.S. If you are ever visiting Washington, please feel free to join Senator
Obama and me at our weekly constituent coffee. When the Senate is in
session, we provide coffee and donuts every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. as we
hear what is on the minds of Illinoisans and respond to your questions.
We would welcome your participation. Please call my D.C. office for more

I think I threw up my hands at that delayed response and I shouldn't have. I'll try again. And here's the gist of my response:
Unversal mental health screening seems to be the direction we're headed from all appearances.
Here's Representative Paul's (TX) comments to his colleagues below and I'm also including the New Freedom Commission Report's Recommendation directly below:
Recommendation 4.4 Screen for mental disorders in primary health care, across the life span, and connect to treatment and supports.

Representative Paul
"Let me tell Members, people in this country have been well informed about this, and they do not like this program. I also would like to quote from the New Freedom Commission ...They never say 'mandatory,' but they never say 'voluntary' What they say is 'universal.' How can you have something universal if you are not going to be testing everybody? Also from the Freedom Commission, it should be for consumers of all ages, screen for mental disorders in primary health care across the life span. These are the guidelines of the New Freedom Commission, as well as saying the schools must be partners in the mental health care of our children.

"as a physician, having practiced medicine for well over 30 years, let me tell Members, there is a crisis in this country. There is a crisis with illegal drugs, but there is a crisis in this country with an overuse of all drugs, especially in the area of psychiatry. Psychiatrists, if they are honest with you, will tell you that diagnoses are very subjective. It is not like diagnosing appendicitis. It is very, very subjective. If you push on this type of testing, the more testing you have, let me guarantee it, the more drugs you will have. Sure, there are mental diseases. I am not excluding any of this when a person has true mental illness, but I am talking about the overuse of Ritalin and Prozac and many of these drugs that are pushed on these kids.
"Let me tell Members, there have been some real problems with families who will not let their kids go on drugs because the schools pressure them to. They have been charged with child abuse, and threatened with taking their children away because they will not be put on these drugs. That is the kind of abuse I am calling to Members' attention, and that is why you need to vote for this amendment. It does not change anything. It does not deny anybody testing and treatment. All it does is say universal testing of everybody of all ages in this country is not the direction that we want to go. Please vote for my amendment. "

They voted against his amendment which stated simply that "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to create or implement any new universal mental health screening program."

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