- Complains of aches and pains
- Is less interested in school
- Is absent from school
- Refuses to share
- Blames others for his or her troubles
- Teases others
- Does not understand other people's feelings
- Does not show feelings
- Gets hurt frequently
- Wants to be with you [the parent] more than before
Yes, I understand that any of the above could possibly be linked to a mental health issue. If I counted right, there were 35 of these issues listed on the questionnaire. Who is going to spend time going over each of these 35 issues? Nobody. It would seem that if we are going to screen kids for mental health problems, we might want to stick with the more important issues rather than a kid who does not like to share toys.
It is certainly a good idea for doctors to pay attention to the mental health of their patients. However, I'm not sure that this sort of overly inclusive checklist of potential issues is going help much.
Mental Health Problems: An Epidemic? There is the black undercurrent of labeling developmentally relatively normal behavior as indicative of a mental disorder and sticking the kids on all sorts of psychotropic meds that (in many cases) have little data to support their use.
But there is more to it than drugs. It's our culture. We've come to accept that there is an epidemic of autism, depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and who knows what's next in our kids. While the drug industry certainly played a role in these developments, it says something about our culture that we are readily willing to buy into the idea that mental illness has spread like a plague throughout American society. Have we bought into these disorders hook, line, and sinker because:
- It abdicates parents of any responsibility for their children's behavior
- It lets kids off the hook for their behavior (I couldn't help it -- I have ADHD)
- It adds yet more drama to the teen years (Gina is, like, so moody. I bet she is, like, bipolar)
- It seems so scientific. We uncover yet more diagnoses with each edition of the DSM and we then think that we have a better understanding of human behavior.