Not watered down enough

Our position: A bill that discourages students from mental-health evaluation deserves a veto.

The kindest thing one can say about a bill on mental-health drugs is that it could have been worse. In its original form, it would have forced schools to actively discourage parents from seeking treatment for troubled youngsters.

Consumer Alert: Scientology

“Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill… (Scientology is) the world’s largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy.”
– Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, quoted at What judges have to say about Scientology

It was watered down until both chambers saw it as innocuous and passed it unanimously. But it wasn’t watered down enough, and Gov. Jeb Bush ought to veto it.

The bill says that before a student gets a mental-health evaluation, schools must suggest that parents have their child checked out by a medical doctor. Also, the school must say that results of a mental-health evaluation could end up on the student’s record.

A lot of parents will take this as a threat, and do nothing. That’s no help to a troubled child.

The bill also bars schools from requiring children to take psychotropic drugs — medicines for depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders — to stay enrolled or participate in activities. This reasonable-sounding measure is useless. Congress already passed a law that does the same thing.

The psychotropic-drug bill was pushed by the Church of Scientology, which opposes psychiatry and promotes alternative treatments. Among the Scientologists who testified for the bill were actresses Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston.

Lawmakers seemed more swayed by concerns that too many children are labeled hyperactive. That is a debate worth having.

But this bill could discourage parents from seeking treatment for extremely troubled youths. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen. It cries out for a veto.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Orlando Sentinel, USA
May 9, 2005 Editorial

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This post was last updated: Friday, November 8, 2013 at 10:06 AM, Central European Time (CET)