20 Nov (AHRP) – The following announcement was posted on TeenScreen’s website (November 15, 2012): “Important Announcement for Schools & Communities: We are sorry to inform you that the TeenScreen National Center will be winding down its program at the end of this year. Accordingly, we will no longer train or register new programs.” No explanation was given.
TeenScreen was a highly controversial, aggressive, medically dubious mental health screening protocol developed with federal funding by Dr. David Shaffer, chief of child psychiatry at Columbia University. It was administered by Laurie Flynn, former Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) who ushered in the pharmaceutical take-over of the organization.
From its inception, TeenScreen was a flawed tool that misidentified 83% of the time, normal adolescents as having undiagnosed mental illnesses which (it was claimed) put them at risk of suicide. In 2004, Dr. Shaffer acknowledged in his published article that “in practice a specificity of 0.83 would deliver many who were not at risk for suicide, and that could reduce the acceptability of a school-based prevention program.” See Ref 7
Despite its acknowledged unreliability as a screening tool, President Bush’s New Freedom Commission for Mental Health recommended (in 2003) the use of TeenScreen for all school-aged children in the 50 states. The NFC also recommended adhering to the TMAP mental health prescribing guidelines (TMAP = Texas Medication Algorithm Project).
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