A group of caring and concerned experts, specializing in mental health, child development, research, and parenting, have started a united movement to help families nationwide. Our effort is called Project #ForTheKids, and our goal “is to dramatically slow down the trend of over diagnosing, labeling and medicating children in the name of mental health.” Project #ForTheKids wants to help adults, help kids — still in the prime of their critical development stages– live more “Normal” childhoods and become great citizens. To accomplish this, our mission is to unite organizations, programs and concerned individuals which have the resources and insights to support families who face learning, behavioral and developmental challenges.
With support through the non-profit organizations International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) and It’s about Childhood and Family (IACAF), to begin in late Spring 2015 Project #ForTheKids is organizing a series of inspiring one day seminars in major metropolitan areas across the USA. Efforts are already in place in the Baltimore/DC area, Cincinnati and Columbus (Ohio), Tampa Bay, and Phoenix to get the seminars’ sites secured and promotions underway. Project #ForTheKids also is building a social media platform to serve as a resource center for concerned adults needing the information and support essential to navigating the often murky waters of mental health, child psychology and education. If by chance you feel inspired to take part or lend a helping hand, there are several different ways you can get involved to follow.
Research documents how the symptoms used to diagnose kids, with some of the more popular mental disorders (e.g., ADHD, Depression), often only reflect common behaviors associated with normal childhood development challenges. These ordinary and yet sometimes frustrating behaviors frequently stem from treatable learning disabilities, temporary developmental delays and basically just learning how to manage life’s curveballs. Far too many in mental health, pediatrics and education, however, want parents to believe common behaviors (displayed daily by a billion kids acting like kids worldwide) are signs of abnormal behavior requiring a mental disorder label and drug therapy.
Many “experts” writing the diagnoses (a requirement for clinicians to be paid by insurance companies) and prescriptions are not practicing due diligence or recommending to parents a steady dose of perseverance, patience and more rounded approaches when it comes to navigating the natural and unique maturation process. A developmental process which each individual child stumbles through gradually and sequentially on their own path to become young adults. As result, millions of kids are being needlessly, and often wrongly diagnosed and drugged for mental disorders.
There is a growing body of caring experts that wish to help parents, and adults working with kids, better understand there are many healthier and more effective alternatives to a permanent mental disorder label and drugs. With little attention to these facts being shared often enough via mainstream media, or such conversations not taking place often enough in education settings, however, there is a need to unite such efforts. Project #ForTheKids seeks to build a cohesive movement to give parents and professionals open access to information not often easily accessible to those having to make such decisions.
In the USA, diagnosis of Autism has increased thirtyfold since the 1970’s. Depending on which studies you consider, what once was hypothesized to only affect 1 to 5 in 10,000 just 4 decades ago has mysteriously in 2014 grown to be 1 in 68. Meanwhile, the Amish population in America is still at 1 in 10,000 kids with Autism and in New Jersey it is 1 in 45. Mirroring such increases in mental disorder diagnosis is the 53% increase in children being diagnosed ADHD over the past decade. Sales of prescription stimulants have more than quintupled since 2002; that’s a fivefold increase. More than 1 in 10 kids are now being diagnosed ADHD, and 4.5 million of these 6.5 million kids– 10,000 of them toddlers— are now being drugged for ADHD with dangerous stimulants or psychotropic drugs. Project #ForTheKids is focused on supporting healthier and more efficient ways to nurture child development.
What’s Behind the Trend?
Many on the business side of childhood mental disorders (aka those making a living off diagnosis and medication sales) claim the increase in childhood mental disorder diagnosis is due to: better awareness and the greater availability of screening centers; the trend to diagnose children at an ever increasing younger age; and the ability to more accurately diagnose such disorders. Others declare it is due to a better understanding of the genetics of such “diseases” or exposure to processed foods, pesticides, air pollution or vaccines. Some want you to believe the disorders are due to neurobiological disorders caused by genetic, metabolic or biological factors. Folks like the ADHD drug company, Shire, want you to believe ADHD is a chronic neurologically based disease similar to epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
Meanwhile the pharmaceutically funded creators of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), would like for you to believe ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. So which claim should a concerned adult believe? Given the “experts” can’t agree nor do they have definitive sound and valid experimental research that has been replicated to scientifically support much if any of the claims, far too many are left to believe whatever the practitioner writing the diagnosis and prescription leads them to believe.
To make matters worse, the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has lowered the criteria required to be diagnosed with disorders such as ADHD or Depression, and continues to experiment with redefining Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Project #ForTheKids series of one day seminars and data bank of resources under development are designed to help concerned professionals in the mental health, education and child development fields, as well as parents, find common sense evidence-based advice in a world where common sense is not that common anymore.
Who Should Attend?
Project #ForTheKids is a must attend event for parents of behaviorally challenged children and adults working with children in the medical, mental health or education fields. Project #ForTheKids nationwide series of inspiring fact-filled one day seminars will be focused on more natural and drug free approaches to developmental and behavioral challenges with children. The efforts will provide concerned adults with tangible evidence that many in the mental health and pharmaceutical industry are not readily sharing. The average cost for attendance will be $67 per attendee, but scholarships are available for financially challenged families. Event registration will be managed by ISEPP and IACAF representatives through eventzilla.net, and attendees will also be able to receive Continuing Education Units.
Much of the talks will focus on the more common child diagnoses such as ADHD, Autism and Depression. Attendees will have the opportunity to listen to and interact with respected and engaging speakers specializing in mental health, early diagnosis, parenting, child development, and the not-so-positive effects of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed to kids. Speakers will include experts such as: author of Anatomy of an Epidemic Robert Whitaker; parenting gurus Dr. Charles and Jim Fay from Love & Logic; clinical psychologist and public health researcher Dr. Gretchen LeFever Watson; Uber Blogger Matt Walsh; renowned filmmaker Kevin Miller; author of Debunking ADHD Dr. Michael W. Corrigan; and many other internationally respected experts. Attendees will also get to hear firsthand stories from parents such as Kathy and Rick Fee who lost their son to an ADHD drug addiction, and regional practitioners wanting to help parents avoid such nightmares.
The mission of Project #ForTheKids is to help adults move beyond the current pharmaceutically-focused model of mental health and better understand the need to apply more holistic approaches in their daily efforts to help developmentally and behaviorally challenged children. The goal is to reach as many education leaders, school counselors, school psychologists, school nurses, preschool and daycare staff, family focused nonprofit groups, parent liaisons, mental health practitioners and pediatricians as possible. Also, given children in foster care are being drugged for mental disorders at some of the highest rates, Project #ForTheKids hopes to bring foster parents and foster care support teams to the seminars. But the main focus is to connect with as many concerned parents and caregivers as possible who truly need the support.
As Project #ForTheKids co-founder Dr. Michael W. Corrigan, a psychologist and professor of child development at Marshall University, shares, “If millions of parents are having to make the decision whether or not to have their child diagnosed and medicated for a mental disorder, it seems only fair that resources are available for them to hear both sides of the debate. Project #ForTheKids might not yet have the wherewithal to share such information similar to the drug companies’ promotional brochures strategically placed in doctors’ offices nationwide, but we hope to soon! Knowledge is power, and our goal is to empower the masses.”
How Can I get Involved?
Although ISEPP and It’s About Childhood and Family will organize and host the events, Project #ForTheKids is seeking assistance from concerned individuals and organizations within major metropolitan areas to help with organizing and promotion. Project #ForTheKids is seeking co-sponsorship support from philanthropic foundations, organizations and individuals as well. In some locations, they hope to offer the event for free to attendees if sponsorship can be secured. They also are actively seeking co-hosts to partner in each city and individuals to help with the organizing and promotional efforts. All local metro partners will receive Press Release Kits as well as Online Promotional Materials and Videos to share with local TV, Radio and Print Media outlets as well as social media outlets and websites.
Basically, Project #ForTheKids is looking for help in this effort. They are seeking co-sponsors, co-hosts and motivated individuals to help get the ball rolling in large metro areas nationwide as well as looking for experts and caring programs that would like to be a part of the resources they offer in their data bank. If you are interested in collaborating with Project #ForTheKids and helping to bring this positive and caring effort to your community, please email Dr. Michael Gilbert at [email protected] or call 315.382.0541. For more information on where you might attend one of the seminars, please “LIKE” the Project #ForTheKids FaceBook page to receive updates and monitor the Eventzilla website for announcement of dates and location of future events.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.