New Laws Address Student Mental Health. (Take Time to Talk to Students)

Clinical Psychiatry News, December 2001 | Go to article overview

New Laws Address Student Mental Health. (Take Time to Talk to Students)


A movement is underway to ban psychotropics from schools. Some states have passed laws that prohibit schools from discussing such drugs with parents. Have any of your patients been affected?

How do you counsel parents and school officials on the use of medication during school hours?

An open line of communication needs to exist among teachers, school officials, and families to properly address students' mental health and its effect on their school performance, according to respondents to this month's Talk Back question.

This summer, Connecticut lawmakers passed a law prohibiting teachers, counselors, and other school officials from recommending psychiatric drugs for any student. Though the law is the first of its kind, school boards in Texas and Colorado have passed resolutions discouraging the use of psychiatric medications and encouraging the use of "proven academic and/or management solutions to resolve behavior, attention, and learning difficulties."

Teachers have the responsibility to alert parents when a child is not doing well and parents bear the responsibility to pursue any problems, said Dr. Joseph Biederman, chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and professor of psychiatry at Harvard University. He said that he hopes no other states pick up a similar or more stringent law than the Connecticut law.

With the increasing use of longer-acting stimulants Concerta (methylphenidate) and Adderall (a mixture of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine), concerns related to in-school administration of psychotropic drugs hopefully will be eliminated, he said.

Schools have to deal with several issues regarding the administration of medication during school hours, said Dr. Regina Bussing, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Florida in Gainesville. …

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