Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Government, Mental Health Screening, & Christian Worldview

Believers and non-believers alike face common dangers from time to time. In such instances, as in all others, the Christian worldview alone is the answer or protection we all need. Recently, the Boston Globe reported that “annual checkups for the nearly half a million Massachusetts children on Medicaid will carry a new requirement: Doctors must offer simple questionnaires to detect warning signs of possible mental health problems, from autism in toddlers to depression in teens. The checklists vary by age but ask questions about children's behavior - whether they are spending more time alone, seeming to have less fun, having trouble sleeping - that are designed to trigger discussion between parents and doctors. The conversations may or may not lead to a referral to a specialist.” Further, “The new requirement represents ‘a huge step forward in a direction that is a national trend,’ said Dr. Robin Adair, a University of Massachusetts Medical School pediatrician and screening specialist.” Here, the fundamentally flawed and greedy mental health industry and the long arm of the state have combined to foist a new imposition upon the citizenry which threatens to further propagate a destructive view and methodology in terms of mental health, create even more mental health problems with their attendant consequences, and violate the personal liberty that Americans have held so dear. Make no mistake: this is but one step with many to follow.

At issue here is the systematic dissemination of a worldview opposed to the Scriptures. That worldview is grounded in the notion that human beings are nothing more than matter in motion, that their mental problems are related to the brain only, and that man is not a composite being having both physical and spiritual aspects. While there are other views in the psychological world, this view has ascended and now holds sway. On such a worldview, testing is developed (despite the fact that physiological/objective tests have not been possible) that ultimately highlights so-called warning signals in an effort to substantiate the industry’s claims and provide a solution the “brain only” crowd deems appropriate. The resolution of course is more children medicated unnecessarily and more profits for the mental health industrial complex. Dr. John Abramson, a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and author of “Overdosed America,” noted that “What happens is that there's a very quick translation of mental health symptoms into drug treatment.” According to the Globe article, “Already, children's psychiatrists and psychologists are often overbooked. Children with serious mental illness sometimes end up stuck in psychiatric hospitals for lack of mental health services in the community.”

The Christian worldview affirms that human beings are bipartite: physical and spiritual. We are more than the confluence of random molecules. We have and are living souls. Obviously, spiritual problems require spiritual solutions while physical problems require physical solutions. Sometimes the two overlap and diagnosis must take into account both of those factors. At the same time, it is that worldview that truly moves to help others with no conflicting motives. True compassion is brought to bear upon each individual for God’s glory and his/her good.

A second issue is the creation of consequences that flow from the aforementioned flawed view and methodology. Well documented is the connection between psychotropic medication and increased suicidality, the FDA’s revelation that the pharmaceutical industry’s claims concerning the safety and efficacy of anti-depressants is greatly exaggerated, as well as their admission that anti-convulsant/anti-epileptic drugs, commonly referred to as mood stabilizers, also foster an increased rate of suicide. Loud is the lament from many concerning the massive number of children subdued by Ritalin and yet the state is calling for more. While the world sees a convergence between the rash of school shootings and those who are mentally ill or not taking their medication, the nexus may actually be the medication itself as guns and depression have always been with us. We have yet to learn what vast consequences attend the artificial altering of brain chemistry. Yet, we still live in a culture that blindly accepts industry claims. Advertising for anti-depressants is at an all time high and prompts patients to pressure their doctors for what they have been told they need.

The Christian worldview affirms that individuals are different. For that reason, some do better than others in certain settings. Some behave better than others. Some learn differently than others. It is that worldview that respects individuality and seeks to not only affirm such but move with love in seeking to help individuals navigate properly the circumstances in which they find themselves by God’s providence for their good. It is a worldview that does not seek to control or further enslave others with drugs as a matter of convenience. Rather, it is a worldview that seeks to liberate people from the bondage they are in by nature with grace and mercy.

A third issue is the further encroachment by the state upon the citizenry. This move is yet another wave lapping against the once massive rock of liberty. Erosion of that liberty is well advanced with more to come if people are not awakened to its reality. It has never been the proper role of government to screen children for anything let alone illusive if not fictitious mental health problems. Of course, whenever the government dole is involved, the government’s constraint will follow. At issue here is not only the state’s willingness to exert its power, but also the popular notion that the state is to take care of us. As those who do not take responsibility for their own lives and well-being increase, so too will government intrusion into all of our lives. And a compliant majority will applaud.

The Christian worldview affirms that individuals must take responsibility for their own lives and well-being. The proper role of the state is to protect a depraved citizenry from one another. One man’s liberty ends where the next man’s liberty begins. The state monitors that dynamic. At the same time, if one man may not encroach upon the liberty of another, neither may the government. It is the Christian worldview alone that promulgates the lofty notion of liberty and justice for all.

These subjects really are matters of worldview. One group seeks to find solutions to man’s problems with the presupposition that there is no God while the other asserts that God is. The diagnosis as well as the treatment flowing from each position will naturally contradict one another. Additionally, as noted, unforeseen consequences always attend the application of a non-Christian worldview, i.e., the destruction of liberty. Let us not fail to recognize what is at stake with developments such as this. A loss of liberty is bad; a loss of mental health is worse; a loss of God is unbearable.

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