In sociology, mental health has long been viewed as a “social construction” like gender, race, etc. It is absolutely true in this case. Autism is new a “spectrum” that can be as wide as the mental health community wishes it to be. Homosexuality and transgenderism used to be afflictions that no longer appear in the DSM-V (the psychologists’ Bible for mental illnesses).
The United States of America is the most medicated society in the history of mankind. Do we really have a mental health crisis in which growing numbers of citizens are suffering from a mental illness, or are doctors and therapists merely prescribe more medication? I have always believed that the latter is the most likely answer, but my recent experiences have served to solidify that opinion.
I have been working as a mental health counselor in a local middle school for a few weeks now. It is a personally rewarding job, as helping kids overcome their social problems is an extremely important job. However, the unholy alliance of the education system, mental health industry, and government healthcare in the pockets of a private business has created an incredibly dangerous and destructive environment for our children.
My employer requires a minimum number of billable hours known as “productivity.” These hours are billed to Medicaid. The company needs to bill Medicaid so they can cover costs (payroll, rent, keeping the lights on, etc.) of doing business. I have to provide an average of 5 hours of productivity every day. I also need to have enough students on my caseload to meet those productivity standards. I share my caseload with a therapist who also has their own productivity numbers to meet.
Thus, a school therapist is incentivized to diagnose “enough” kids in the school to meet the productivity standards in order to bill Medicaid enough money to pay all of us.
The real consequence of this policy is an uptick in mental health diagnoses. I have already met with a number of students who have behavioral problems, not mental health problems. Most of them are on the “spectrum” – basically any kid who has trouble making friends ends up here. Several have been diagnosed with ADHD – any kid who has a hard time paying attention to boring teachers in classes that they don’t care about.
I have sat in public school classrooms. My clients are supposed to sit and exhibit ideal behavior while a half-dozen students who have not been diagnosed are acting like wild animals. My kids have “mental health” problems, but these other kids do not.
Many of my clients do not take prescribed medication because they say, “it makes me feel weird” or “I don’t feel like myself.” I completely understand this. In college, I read a paper about “the medicated self” which argues that those on anti-depressants are unsure which “self” is their true self.
Imagine being told that your “self” is not complete unless you are taking medication that basically turns you into a different person. This medicated “self” is the “good self”, while your natural existence is viewed as incomplete.
So we now have a group of students who are “mentally ill”, while other students who exhibit the same behavior are “mentally healthy.” One group is told that they need drugs to be complete, while the other is told they are whole. One group is diagnosed with “mental illnesses” whose definitions change over time, often due to social pressure from social justice lobbyists. One group needs to be diagnosed as mentally ill in order to keep therapists and CPSTs employed. One group is told they are incomplete, and we wonder why they grow up into adults who continue to exhibit mental health problems.
This does not even address the potential damage that a psychotropic drug can have when introduced to an otherwise healthy brain. Most people who are diagnosed have not had any sort of brain scan. An “expert” who sits in an office determines the brain chemistry of a client after a conversation or two – not an MRI or C/T scan, but a chat determines that neurons and synapses are not working properly – and prescribes drugs to these individuals.
This is the reality of America’s “mental health crisis.” We are creating mental illness by redefining what makes someone ill and introducing brain chemistry altering drugs into potentially healthy brains.
**This is not to say that there are not legitimate cases of mental illness. I am merely saying that they are far less prevalent than we are led to believe.**
Many of our schools are filled with mental health workers who are incentivized to diagnose a certain number of students as mentally ill in order to fulfill arbitrary “productivity” standards.
It is my experience that the overwhelming similarity between clients is the lack of a two-parent household. Some poor kid who experiences abuse or abandonment in the home acts out at school to get attention to show that he has power somewhere. These kids do not have broken brains, they are victims of broken homes.
We must fix families. We must worry more about making these kids whole rather than meeting “productivity”. We must allow teachers and schools to deal with kids in a more effective way than slapping them with a mental health diagnosis that excuses bad behavior and will follow them for the rest of their lives.
We must stop telling our kids that they are not whole.
I would gladly sacrifice my job for the greater good. The “mental health crisis” needs to be discussed. We must shine a light on the dark corners of the mental health industry before it all gets worse.
If you are a mental health worker, do you agree or disagree? Where am I wrong? Where am I right? I would love to hear from you by either commenting on this post or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.