Out of control

The over-prescription of drugs to control psychological and
emotional problems in children, without much evidence of their
effectiveness or possible negative side-effects, is shocking,
doubly so when you consider the woefully inadequate state of child
and adolescent mental health services.

This week a second antidepressant has been banned from use on young
people. This drug, Efexor, is being used on 3,000 children despite
carrying a warning. Only three months ago the drug Seroxat was
found to be dangerous to children. And fears have been raised for a
long time that difficult behaviour is being pathologised and
children damaged by Ritalin treatment.

Meanwhile, the counselling and therapeutic services that might
provide a humane substitute for medication are often simply not
available for children in mental distress.

Without more such support, we will never know whether their mental
distress is a reaction to increasing academic pressure, the effects
of family changes such as parental separation, or bullying and
other severe stresses.

An early resort to medication indicates a desire to control the
problems children present for adults. Before we pathologise them,
we should ask what’s wrong with adult society, that our desire for
easy, controllable children has led us so far from their real

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