Mental or Not?


The government has implemented a new program to test three year olds for signs of mental illness.  This new program will start from July 1, 2012 and will be run by GP’s with the standard health check for kids; it is a voluntary program that allows parents to go to the doctor with any concerns.

The idea is that behaviour/issues will be noticed and help will be found for these children.  However I am a big believer in labels and kids will be marked as early as three years old for being shy, upset, and anxious or other things and some or all of these things kids grow out of, some might not, but most do.

According to Jill Stark who wrote “Mental health checks for preschoolers” that is published online at Fairfax’s Essential Kids website, the program:

“…will consider behaviour such as sleeping with the light on, temper tantrums or extreme shyness as signs of possible psychological problems.”

I for one would not want to bring my kids for a check-up to then have normal behaviour seen as possible signs of mental illness. I do understand that early diagnose for kids that need help is essential and I applaud any program that helps families and especially these kids. However I worry that kids who are just being kids will clog up the system and not give the time for kids that really need the program.  Unless my girls give me any sign to worry, which has not happened and I think not, I will not use this service.

Another worry for me is who is this information shared with? Schools – pre-schools, primary, secondary, universities, future work places, and the list can continue. Is giving the child a label going to hurt the chances of recovery if there is an issue? I do know that finding out what ails you is helpful, as then you can work to fix it, and I do agree.

However for me it is like telling a kid that they are stupid and then hoping that they achieve. When I was at school, if you were not good at maths you were put in the dumb class. Teachers gave you easier tasks and did not attempt to teach you what you really should know, for example algebra. If these teachers did not tell you were dumb/stupid and spent some time teaching you in different ways how to understand the maths problem, then this would lead to kids getting better at maths and achieving.

What are your thoughts to this new program for mental health checks for three year olds? Currently it is a voluntary program, but what if it becomes mandatory?  I for one would not want to have to go and do it, some things are just private. Although, I do think that this service is great for people that really need it, and I hope they can access the service that should be for them, not the average kids who are just being challenging children. Send in your thoughts?

1 Response
  • trish van baast
    June 13, 2012

    I think 3 year olds are too young for that. Lets get out of the tantum/frightened of the dark etc stages which are all normal in most young children. When they’re older perhaps?

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