Screening Children

Embarrassing, personal and potentially upsetting questions are being included on questionnaires used in the mental health screening of children.

0746h0030As a parent, you can protect your children by downloading and submitting a Parent’s Exemption Form to their school. The form states your child may not be subject to any form of mental health, psychological, social services or counselling screening or tests without your written consent.

Psychiatrists have worded questionnaires in such a way that, when answered, a student could find it difficult to escape being labelled as mentally ill.

The questionnaires result in psychological or psychiatric intervention in the life of a child and his of her family – often against their will, or even under threat.

The questions cover a wide range of normal emotions and situations that every child and young person may go through when growing up or which they may currently be experiencing. However, these emotions and situations when analysed by psychiatrists, are turned into potential mental health problems.

Parents should know that if psychiatrists or psychologists are using schools to test or assess their child, they have the right to say no and to refuse to have their child tested or drugged. The only groups to clearly benefit from such screenings and coercive drug treatments are psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. Parents should unite to get psychiatric screening expelled from all schools.

Screening Methods

The Department of Health promotes several psychiatric questionnaires for teachers, parents and children from ages 3 to 16.

One of the most common screening questionnaires is The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire based on the criteria included in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – IV) or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD -10).

This questionnaire is used on children from 3 years to 16 years and includes invasive and evaluative questions about separation anxiety, specific phobia, panic/panic attacks, post traumatic stress, obsessions and compulsions, generalised anxiety, depression, irritability, loss of interest, deliberate self harm, troublesome behaviour, trouble with the police and just to capture everything, a category called “less common difficulties.” Children from 11 to 16 years are asked to fill out the survey themselves while carers or parents fill out the survey for 3 – 4 year-old children.

Questions include:

For 3 to 4 year-olds:  (The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire)

Filled out by a parent or carer who answers ‘not true,’ ‘somewhat true’ or ‘certainly true.’

  • Considerate of other peoples feelings?
  • Restless or overactive cannot stay still for long?
  • Often has temper tantrums or hot tempers?
  • Constantly fidgeting or squirming?
  • Often unhappy, downhearted or tearful?
  • Easily distracted, concentration wanders?
  • Nervous and clingy in new situations, easily loses confidence?
  • Often argumentative with adults?
  • Can’t think things over before acting?
  • Many fears, easily scared?

For 11 to 16 year-olds:

Filled out by the young person

  • I try to be nice to people, I care about them?
  • I get very angry and often lose my temper?
  • I worry a lot?
  • I have one good friend or more?
  • I am often unhappy, downhearted or tearful?
  • I’m easily distracted. I find it difficult to concentrate?
  • I am nervous in new situations. I easily lose confidence?
  • I am often accused of cheating or lying?
  • I have many fears, I am easily scared?

For Separation Anxiety:  

  • Who are you particularly attached too?
  • Overall, in the past month, have you been particularly worried about being separated from your (attachment figures cited in first question)?
  • Have you often been worried either about something unpleasant happening to (attachment figure), or about losing them?
  • Have you worried about sleeping alone?
  • Were you like this by the age of 6?

For Specific Phobias:

Are particularly scared about any of the things or situations on this list?

  • Animals: insects, spiders, bees, wasps, mice, snake, birds or another animal
  • Storms, thunder, heights or water
  • Blood: Injections?  Injury: set off by the sight of blood or injury, or by an injection?
  • Dentists or doctors?
  • The dark?
  • Other specific situations: lifts, tunnels, flying, driving, trains, buses, small enclosed spaces?
  • Any other fear (specify)?

For Social Phobias: 

Overall, do you particularly fear or avoid social situations which involve a lot of people, or meeting new people, or doing things in front of other people?
Can I just check, have you been particularly afraid of anyone in the following social situations over the last month?

  • Meeting new people?
  • Meeting a lot of people, such as at a party?
  • Eating in front of others?
  • Speaking in class?
  • Reading out loud in front of others?
  • Writing in front of others?

For Depression:

In the past month, have there been times when you have been very sad, miserable, unhappy or tearful?
In the past month, have there been times when you have been grumpy or irritable in a way that was out of character for you?
In the past month, has there been a time when you lost interest in everything, or nearly everything you normally enjoy doing?

For Troublesome Behaviour: 

Over these last 12 months…

a)  Have you often told lies in order to get things or favours from others, or to get out of having to do things you are supposed to do?
b)  Have you often started fights?
c)  Have you often bullied or threatened people?
d)  Have you often stayed out after dark much later than you were supposed to?
e)  Have you stolen from the house, or from oher people’s houses, or from shops or school?
f)   Have you run away from home more than once, or ever stayed away all night?
g)  Have you often played truant (bunked off) from school?

Adolescent Well Being Scale

The Adolescent Well Being Scale was devised to pick up possible depression in older children and adolescents and involves asking 18 questions about their thoughts and feelings and asking children whether they feel those thoughts or feelings some of the time, sometimes or never. It is used on children 7 to 16-years-olds.

  • I feel like crying?
  • I feel like leaving home?
  • I get stomach aches/cramps?
  • I think life isn’t worth living?
  • I have horrible dreams?
  • I feel very lonely?
  • I feel so sad I can’t hardly bear it?
  • I feel very bored?

Don’t forget: protect your children by downloading and completing a Parent’s Exemption Form and then submitting it to your child’s school.