UK Govt Can’t ‘Medicalise’ Children to Compensate for Bad Upbringing, Warns Health Chief

ALTRINCHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: Schoolboys make their way to class at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys on September 8, 2016 in Altrincham, England. The British government has indicated that it may reintroduce grammar schools. Education secretary Justine Greening has said that 'the government will take a 'pragmatic' look at …
Christopher Furlong/Getty

Chief Executive for NHS England Simon Stevens has told MPs that the government cannot “medicalise” the failure to bring up children properly.

The health services boss said “we can’t just medicalise the failure to provide a healthy and nurturing childhood” in response to questions at the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Wednesday over the budget’s inability to deal with every child in the country with a perceived mental health issue.

“We are expanding those services as fast as we are able,” Mr Stevens told MPs, noting that “underlying causes” of why there has been an increase in children with mental health issues, need to be examined.

“There are some broader questions which I think quite fundamental here, in that what is driving the increase in mental health problems… and the lack of well-being in young people,” he said.

The Conservative government’s recently-announced budget includes a £2 billion fund earmarked for improving child mental health services, at a time when questions are being raised about the over-medication of children.

Head of NHS Scotland Paul Gray said Wednesday that doctors were at risk of needlessly prescribing anti-depressants to children perceived to be depressed, with there being a 27 per cent increase over the past three years in under-12s being given the drugs.

“It might… be helpful to reflect the risk that we unduly medicalise our response to children and young people’s emotional needs,” Mr Gray wrote in response to a report on child mental health, according to correspondence seen by The Times.

Likewise with children being medicated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the schools’ watchdog Ofsted warned that parents may be overmedicating their children after prescriptions for Ritalin had doubled in just 1o years, warning that parents were using the drug instead of dealing with bad behaviour.

Head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman said that the time: “The fact that it seems to have become the norm for a whole swathe of the social structure to medicate as a response to behavioural problems feels like a very big warning signal.”

In the U.S., diagnoses of ADHD in children nearly doubled in less than a decade between 2003 and 2011 — more than one in ten American children being diagnosed with the disorder, as of November 2013 — with global diagnoses also increasing.

However, some medical professionals, including U.S. behavioural neurologist Dr. Richard Saul, saying that there is no such thing as ADHD with American psychiatrist Robert A. Berezin saying that “no child should be given amphetamines”.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.