Some thoughts on childhood mental health diagnosis, big pharma and school legislation

Doing one last day of work before the holidays kick-off and I resort to reading articles on the sofa whilst wearing my brand new pj’s and eating Aladdin (a box of chocolate pralines that for some reason play a central part in Swedish Christmas celebration – sometimes it feels even more central than the birth of Jesus tbh…)

Anyway, I had to write this quick post as I found an interesting comment on the explosion of diagnosing childhood mental health disorder.   I am currently working on paper on the genetic and environmental overlap between ADHD and maturity across development. This area is full of interesting, and some concerning,  angles.  On the one hand, a multitude of studies show that ADHD is associated with delayed brain development that can catch-up with age and lead to a reduction of symptoms. On the  other hand, several epidemiological studies from different countries clearly shows that the youngest children in school class are significantly more likely to receive a diagnoses of ADHD, suggesting possible  misdiagnoses of ADHD due to relative immaturity.

Issues of misdiagnoses are not only important in ADHD. The last decade has seen a decreased stringency of diagnosing both ADHD and Autism and the introduction of several other childhood mental disorders, such as childhood bipolar, that can lead to prescription of medication in early years. I am not suggesting these disorders are not real nor that they should not be treated and medicated when necessary, but there is definitely some cause for concern.

The short article I have linked to below eloquently discussed some of the main concerns, including the role of big pharma, problems with diagnoses and educational policy in relation to childhood mental health problems.  I especially think that the closing comment on the provisioning of school services  based on diagnoses is crucial, and something legislators everywhere should consider , unless we are willing to accept that money are going to dictate the diagnoses of mental health disorder in children

“…Three lessons of the recent past are clear. First, the diagnosis of mental disorder in children and teenagers should be performed with much greater caution, conservatism, and respect for the uncertainty caused by developmental and contextual factors. Second, drug company marketing should have much less influence over physician prescribing and parent and teacher perceptions. And finally, the provision of school services should be based on education need, not clinical diagnosis…”

Why So Many Epidemics of Childhood Mental Disorder?

Have a read, have a good holiday and GOD JUL!

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