** ALERT ** PUBLIC HEARING June 10th at 9:30 AM King County Council  – 516 Third Ave, Room 1200, Seattle, WA 98104. Come and give your point of view!


May 27, 2015


King County Council

Budget and Fiscal Management Committee

516 Third Ave, Room 1200

Seattle, WA 98104





Dear Chair McDermott and Committee Members,

I have reviewed King County Ordinance 2015-0177 and have a number of concerns about the proposals it forwards.

The text of this legislation is not clear on exactly what would be funded and how. A review of supporting documentation raises serious questions about exactly how this levy money will be spent.

The main issues we have revolve around the whole concept of identifying objective issues that affect our communities and the individuals that are being targeted for services, and then saying that there is a mental health component whereby some of these children, 0-5 and 5- 24-years-old may simply be in need of mental health treatment – which means psychiatric drugs.

For example, one of the reports clearly identifies many factors that children at risk face:

“The latest research shows that the place where a child grows up has a tremendous impact on a child’s success and in many cases a child’s zip code is a better predictor of their future health and well-being than their DNA code. Children are more likely to succeed and live longer, more productive lives if they have the opportunity to live in communities that have strong social networks, are free from violence, provide convenient access to healthy, affordable food, offer access to job opportunities and high quality, affordable housing, support drug and tobacco free living, and offer opportunities for physical activity.”

(2015-0177 Best Starts for Kids Report to King County Council)

A point needs to be clarified here. These are objective, identifiable issues that anyone can see are happening to individuals in these communities.

And yet the King County Youth Action Plan, the Best Start for Kids Report to the King County Council and the Ordinance 2015-0177 contain a number of references and descriptions for psychiatric programs to be funded by the levy to address these issues.

Psychiatric labels of behavior have a major problem as stated by the current head of the National Institute of Mental Health:

“… The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical

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symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever. Indeed, symptom-based diagnosis, once common in other areas of medicine, has been largely replaced in the past half century as we have understood that symptoms alone rarely indicate the best choice of treatment.” Thomas Insel M.D. Director, National Institute of Mental Health

This ordinance is based on the concept of need as stated above, and goes on to include psychiatric treatments as follows:

“Prevention and early intervention are also the most effective and least expensive ways to address serious future problems such as chronic disease, mental illness, substance …” (Section 8 of ordinance)

“Build resiliency of youth and reduce risky behaviors through: Prevention, screening, early intervention and, where needed, treatment, that addresses depression, other mental illnesses …”

(2015-0177 Best Starts for Kids Report to King County Council)

“Screening youth for early onset of mental illness…”

(2015-0177 Best Starts for Kids Report to King County Council)

“Increase infant and early childhood screenings, including:  i. Mental health screenings…”

“(2) Support pregnant and parenting families with health and nutrition guidance, substance abuse prevention, and screening and linking to services for post-partum depression so that healthier babies are born across King County regardless of location, the age of their parents, their race/ethnic background or family income.” (King County Youth Action Plan – P55)

“Collaborative school-based mental health and substance abuse services. Provide effective prevention and intervention strategies, screenings, referrals, individual/group/family work, after school activities, assemblies, classroom presentations and school support in middle schools for those most at risk.” (King County Youth Action Plan – P108)

This finding is not really new. Years ago, Washington Kids Count issued a report that revealed similar problems that underlie the difficulties children are having, including broken homes, unwanted children, failing education, hunger and poor health, drug and alcohol drug abuse, and basic poverty.

But they made the same mistake. Instead of calling for an address of these issues the report called for more money for mental health services and programs to “educate” the public!  In this way a entoring program for children, for example, gets replaced with psychiatric screening and a visit to the local psychiatrist.

Behavior is not a disease. Chemical management of behavior is at best a bandaid and should not be endorsed as policy by the King County Council.

We have real issues in our communities, in our schools, in our social services administration and delivery, in our healthcare system and delivery.

Success in school is an unrealized goal for many youth. 30% of our 7th and 10th graders are still failing to meet basic reading and writing standards. Nearly 50% fail to meet basic math standards. Is it any wonder many kids are depressed, bored and angry? The root causes of their emotional and behavioral problems are clear to anyone who cares to look.

But there is one profession that consistently disconnects these problems from their root causes. The psychiatrist looks at the struggling child and sees one thing – mental illness. His explanation is simple: the kid’s got a bad brain.


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For decades now psychiatry has been, as UCLA psychiatrist Irwin Savodnik wrote recently, “turning ordinary human frailty into disease.”   In the process, psychiatry’s diagnostic manual has grown from 112 disorders in 1952 to its current 374 varieties of bad brain syndrome, with a nearly ten-fold increase in the number of childhood disorders.

Normal childhood behaviors, as well as the understandable reactions of children to a world that is frequently inimical to their well-being, have been defined by psychiatry to be abnormal – symptoms of an illness that requires “treatment.”

This is part of what psychiatrist Allen Francis refers to as the “wholesale medical imperialization of normality.”

The results for children have been disastrous. It’s not simply that they have been offered no real solutions to their problems. They have been encouraged to think that they are the problem and the solution lies in a pill.   The psychiatric drugging of children is out of control. An estimated 8 million children in the U.S. are prescribed psychotropic pills, with even the psychiatric drugging of toddlers expanding at a rapid rate.

An analysis of 2013 IMS Data, found that over 274,000 infants (0-1 year olds) and some 370,000 toddlers (1-3 years age) in the U.S. were on antianxiety (e.g. Xanax) and antidepressant (e.g. Prozac) drugs. This report also found over 1,400 infants were on ADHD drugs.

“Prescriptions of powerful antipsychotics such as Risperdal for infants and very young children have also sharply risen. Office visits for childhood bipolar disorder have risen 40-fold over the past decade in the U.S.”

“The causes are debatable but our culture of “a pill for every temper tantrum” is one culprit. While there are effective nondrug behavioral therapies for preschoolers, access and incentives are not aligned to prioritize them. We also need to invest more in building resilience.”

Wall Street Journal – February 19, 2015 by Murali Doraiswamy “Why Are So Many Toddlers Taking Psychiatric Drugs?”

More troubling, the number of children taking antipsychotics, arguably the most damaging of all psychiatric drugs, grew 73 percent in the four years ending in 2005. These drugs are having devastating consequences on the lives of our youth. The list of teenage killers who were taking psychiatric drugs at the time of their crimes – drugs which have been shown in study after study to cause violence and mania – continues to grow.

Today the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry is expanding its search for young “customers” by calling for everyone in America, to be “screened” for psychiatric disorders, starting with children. This ordinance falls right in line with their ideals.

This ordinance should be rewritten to make it clear that it is not simply a marketing campaign for psychiatric drugging of our vulnerable youth, or a program to chemically manage behaviors. And we need to make sure the emphasis of any ordinance is on addressing root causes so real outcomes can be obtained

I am happy to provide additional information and answer any questions you may have.


Steven Pearce


CCHR Seattle  * PO Box 19633  *  Seattle, WA 98109  *  (206) 283-1099  *


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