Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Outrageous: She Admits Suicidal Thoughts, They Cart Her Away!

Screening for Mental Health, Inc. out of Massachusetts, has a program called "Signs of Suicide" which has been implemented in many public schools across the country. They receive millions in pharmaceutical funding. Tax records here: They are also the ones that came up with the annual National Depression Screening Day.

Please write to the below Orange County, Florida school board chairman and cc the school board members and a few legislators who sponsored the SOS bill in Florida last year and may be filing the same bill this year. (e-mail addresses provided below) and let them have a piece of your mind - politely - and add that you saw the video in the news and that you don't want Signs of Suicide in schools.

The suicide movie is part of the SOS program. You can see the reference to: "Acknowledge, Care and Tell" right on their website here: (last paragraph)

Student's Suicide Confession Lands Her In Mental Clinic
February 27, 2007

APOPKA, Fla. -- An Orange County father is furious after school officials sent his daughter to a mental health clinic.

Jenny Helmick, a student at Wolf Lake Middle School, went to a guidance counselor and ended up spending the night at Lakeside Alternatives, WESH 2 News reported.

Her father, Paul Helmick, said the situation started with a movie about suicide prevention. The movie is part of a district-wide program that teaches students to ACT; Acknowledge, Care and Tell if they or a friend shows warning signs of depression or suicide.

Helmick said he believes the school's student resource officer acted way out of line by invoking the Baker Act, which allows law enforcement to take someone in for emergency evaluation.

Although she can forget her troubles when riding her go-cart around the family farm, Helmick said she'll always remember how she ended up at Lakeside Alternatives, by admitting she had once thought about suicide.

"I was pretty honest and I guess honesty can get you to a good place and get you in a bad place and at this point I think it's really messed my life up at this point so far," Helmick said.

Helmick made her confession to Latasha Hanna, the SAFE coordinator at the middle school, who said she was just taking precautions.
"I never want to gamble with their lives. So when a student comes to talk to me, I take everything that they say very seriously and try to get them help if I can," Hanna said.

Helmick's father said it didn't help when the resource officer considered her a threat to herself and had her admitted to Lakeside.

"If my daughter did say she wanted to kill herself, the right thing for them should have been to make sure that they held on to that child until a parent was brought in to that school to meet with them," he said.

Helmick believes the Baker Act that allowed the student resource officer to take his daughter to Lakeside gives police too much power.
"Keep in mind, a police officer does not have medical experience on telling me whether my daughter is crazy or not," He said.

Helmick said the movie encouraged her to seek out the SAFE cooridinator because she felt depressed about problems with bullies. School officials said they are looking into those problems.

Administrators said there have been four students taken to Lakeside from Wolf Lake Middle School this year.

School board chairman, Karen Ardaman

School board members and legislators:,,,,,,,,,

Monday, February 26, 2007

Whistle-Blower Speaks Out

Here is an interesting interview of a former pharmaceutical rep turned whistle-blower. It speaks for itself.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bill Introduced To Track Meds In Foster Kids

In California and most of the rest of the country, the misfortune of being placed in a foster home also means for a kid that he will almost undoubtedly be put on psych drugs. The whole foster program is psych infested. Now somebody's trying to do something about it. I hope it works. This article is from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Matthew Yi, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
February 24, 2007

Sacramento -- A Bay Area lawmaker introduced a bill on Friday that would require the state to collect personal and medical data on foster children as a first step to determine if they are being overmedicated because they are misdiagnosed with mental illnesses.

In many instances, foster children are given medications such as antidepressants when they're simply withdrawn because they are coping with the trauma of leaving their families to live with strangers, said Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.

"What we've heard anecdotally is that for a lot of foster kids, rather than getting counseling for them ... they're given a drug," she said.

The bill, AB1330, would require the state Department of Social Services to collect information about a youth's sex, age and race; number of years in the foster care system; the type of drug prescribed; and whether the child lives with a foster family or a group home or resides in the juvenile justice system. There are about 80,000 children in the state's foster care system.

The legislation would also require the agency to ensure that foster children who are prescribed psychotropic medication receive appropriate medical care in accordance with the recommendations of the federal Food and Drug Administration.

Evans said the state agency said last year that it has started collecting such data. The lawmaker decided to go ahead with her bill to ensure that the department follows through with its promise of gathering the information.

This is not the first legislative attempt to collect data on foster youth and psychotropic medication. In 2004, a similar bill by then-Sen. Dick Mountjoy, R-Monrovia (Los Angeles County), stalled in the Legislature partly because of objections by the California Psychiatric Association.

Randall Hagar, the association's director of governmental affairs, said Friday that he has at least two concerns about Evans' bill.

"I think it'll be helpful to know how many (foster youths) are getting (psychotropic drugs)," he said. "But if you stop there, that's just a reflection about the nervousness about psychotropic medications and the feeling that psychotropic medications are bad."

Hagar said such a database would be more useful if it includes the diagnosis of each foster youth and figures out if they're getting the right medication.

The bill's insistence that foster children who receive psychotropic drugs be given medical care that's consistent with the FDA's recommendations is problematic because there's a lack of FDA standards for pediatric psychotropic medications, Hagar said.

That's because as a result of little research on such drugs for minors, there are very few medications that the FDA is recommending specifically for pediatric use. Currently, individual doctors and psychiatrists use their own discretion to prescribe a wide variety of psychotropic medications, he said.

"If we limit to only FDA-approved medications (specifically for children), we're denying children the vast majority of medications out there, and that's simply denying access," Hagar said.

But that's part of her concern, Evans said.

"Some of these psychotropic drugs are very heavy drugs, and there are anecdotal cases that the children are not being given right medications," she said.

One advocate of foster youths said she applauds Evans' efforts but fears every day spent simply gathering information is another day lost for children who are given these medications.

"We feel there is an urgency to this problem," said Jennifer Rodriguez, legislative and policy manager for California Youth Connection.

Even while the information is being gathered, there are other things that can help, such as asking public health nurses to visit individual group homes and educate the foster youths about these medications and that they have the right to refuse the drugs, Rodriguez said.

"There are about 7,000 youths in group homes in California. You can do a pilot project in certain counties first, if you want. But it seems like that's something that's doable," she said.

Evans also introduced AB1331, which would require counties to assess foster youths when they turn 16 1/2 years old to see if they qualify for federal disability money. If they do, the bill would allow counties to hold on to the last three checks, up to a total of $2,000, before the youths turn 18 and give them the lump sum to start their lives as adults.

A third bill, AB1332, would require private adoption agencies to have the same requirements as county adoption agencies in doing checks on adopting families. Lastly, the legislation would allow adopted foster youths with special needs who receive funds from the state's Adoption Assistance Program to continue receiving the benefit without interruption if the new parents die.