Mental health screenings offered | News, Sports, Jobs


HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Hollidaysburg Area School District will provide in-school voluntary screening measures to evaluate the danger for despair and different psychological health or behavioral health issues in eighth-graders.

Board member Lois Kaneshiki is towards it. Although she stated she was out of city for the board’s assembly Wednesday, she made her opinion recognized on Facebook main as much as it.

She spoke Friday about her place. She believes the screenings would largely be inaccurate and will ultimately result in dangerous medicines.

Tom McCaffrey, a former emotional assist instructor with 18 years of expertise working with kids with emotional or behavioral challenges, addressed the board Wednesday earlier than the vote. He was vital of Kaneshiki’s concepts.

The Hollidaysburg Area School Board members current for Wednesday’s assembly voted 7-Zero to approve the screenings. Kaneshiki and board member Melissa Mitchell had been absent. Mitchell couldn’t be reached for remark Friday.

On Facebook previous to the April 17 assembly, Kaneshiki had requested folks to contact different board members and urge them to vote towards the screenings.

“These screenings are experimental. They result in inaccurate labeling of kids,” she posted.

In a telephone interview Friday, Kaneshiki stated she has been researching the subject since February when laws was proposed to mandate all school-age kids to obtain a despair screening with their physicals. The proposal was launched with the assist of state Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, and has not but moved from the Senate schooling committee.

Kaneshiki stated her analysis causes her to imagine many children could also be unnecessarily placed on harmful, addictive psychotropic medication because of this, and that may completely change the buildings of their brains.

“This is all very scary to me,” she stated. “I’m against this not because I’m not concerned about mental health issues. I am concerned, but this is not the way to fix it.”

She stated that she didn’t assume medication could be a direct results of the screenings however the finish of a course of that begins with the screenings.

“These screenings will put these kids into a pipeline,” she stated.

She referenced the e book “Big Pharma” by Steven Sheller, in addition to the Alliance for Human Research Protection.

“These screenings are solutions looking for a problem, courtesy of the Big Pharm­aceutical industry,” she stated.

On social media, she referenced the web site of the Alliance for Human Research Protection that critiqued Columbia Univer­sity’s ‘TeenScreen” technique for a excessive price of “false positives.”

Kaneshiki stated she requested for the screening questions from the corporate that may present the screening to Hollidaysburg college students, however the firm refused to reveal the questions.

McCaffrey refuted Kaneshiki’s opinion and has by no means heard of the Alliance for Human Research Pro­tection. He stated the positioning proposes a conspiracy idea about screening applications.

“Teen Screen” shouldn’t be this system being thought-about tonight, so I don’t perceive its relevance,” he stated.

“I believe her position is incorrect and is grounded in lack of awareness of the mental, emotional and social challenges facing many of the students in the district as well as a lack of understanding that we, as a district, are already doing school-based referrals through the Student Assist­ance Program. … But depression is not always outwardly demonstrated … screening captures manifestations of adolescent distress that are otherwise overlooked by involved adults.”

McCaffrey sees worth within the screenings and stated they might not lead straight to labels or medicines.

“To say further research is being done does not mean that school-based screening is experimental,” he stated. “These are screening devices and are not diagnostic tools. No student receives a label based on a screening tool alone. No student will be placed on medications based on screening. Those decisions are made by physicians after a far more involved diagnosis process.”

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots psychological health group strongly helps early psychological health screening in a major care physician’s workplace or in class.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights fashioned by the Church of Scientology warns towards screenings due to alleged ties to pharmaceutical firms.

McCaffrey identified that Kaneshiki shared an article on Facebook from the St. Louis Dispatch that said the Church of Scientology was a critic of screening applications.

“Well, at least the word ‘science’ is in there somewhere,” he stated.

McCaffrey stated he has labored with college students with such extreme anxiousness issues that they may not go away their bedrooms, with college students with extreme consuming issues and college students who had been cutters. Many college students had been affected by despair, he stated — one tried suicide at age 7.

“A few years ago, while teaching at the senior high with a different administration than the current one, I raised a concern about a student of mine, who I believed to be at risk of suicide,” he stated. “He had been cutting and seemed despondent. I expressed my concerns to the administration to no avail. Weeks later, his mother called me and said that she had found a suicide note and that he had been searching for a rope. It may have taken a few years, but last September, he found that rope and was successful in ending his pain.”

McCaffrey choked again tears.

“I failed him. His family failed him. The school failed him. This community failed him,” he stated. “We can do better. We have to do better.”

Superintendent Bob Gildea defined the context for the screenings.

Since 2017, the district has been receiving funding from the Garrett Lee Smith State Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Grant Program.

It has helped the district meet necessities of state regulation associated to suicide prevention by offering sources for the district, however there was a part of the grant which Hollidaysburg has not but carried out. That is a behavioral health screening.

Gildea stated the screening will probably be free to the district and out there to all eighth-grade college students.

The screening could be administered as soon as to households that volunteer for it. Counselors obtain outcomes instantly and oldsters are contacted.

“Parents are in the driver’s seat as to how an issue is addressed,” he stated. “The screener brings awareness to the issue. It’s in the parents’ power to decide what to do with that.”

Gildea identified that college students self-reported info recorded within the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, which is run each two years to college students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12. The most up-to-date survey was in 2017.

“That survey showed 33 percent of our students are experiencing depression and frighteningly, 13 or 14 percent of our students have expressed thoughts of suicide,” Gildea stated. “As far as I’m concerned, mental wellness of our children is a crisis that our country is just now realizing.”

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.



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