Step Right Up, Citizen, For Your Federally Mandated Mental Health Screen

A panel that makes recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a report recommending that all Americans have mental health screenings.

No, it’s not (yet) mandated. But the logic of national health care ultimately leads there. If government is the keeper of our health, this includes our mental health, correct?

When you consider the prospect of politicians and bureaucrats — often the least intellectually and ethically qualified among us — spearheading a determination of national mental health, it seems like a sick joke.

The basis for the recommendation is that depression, and other mental health problems, impair employee functioning and cost the American economy billions of dollars a year.

Actually, speaking as a long-time psychotherapist, the government is more responsible for depression than any other single entity. Take Obamacare. Since that law went into effect, I have had countless discussions with clients who have lost their health insurance, their benefits or their full-time job status due to employers’ inability to afford them. I have also talked with numerous stressed-out self-employed people, and small business owners, who are finding the 50 percent, or 300 percent, premium increases to be an emotional as well as a financial hardship. While health care was a government-regulated mess prior to Obamacare, all of these problems came about because of this new law, adding to already existing stress in the lives of millions.

Will Obamacare or the government get the blame for any of this? Not likely. Government rarely, if ever, gets the blame for any of the damage it does to the economy. Most people blame economic problems on things like immigration, other people making too much money, or anyone but the actual agencies and persons responsible for causing most of the problems.

It’s more than Obamacare. It’s all the things government does to the economy, and in the process to our peace of mind, every single day. All the regulations, all the red tape, all the added expense, all the luxuries denied because of the increased costs the government creates cumulatively generate an emotional impact. And then there’s all the job growth which never takes place, and all the layoffs which do take place, because of the relentless attacks, regulatory and tax-wise, against the wealth-creators and profit-making job creators in the private sector.

Sure, a lot of people’s emotional problems are caused by mistaken thinking, bad habits, poor self-esteem and mediocre parenting. You cannot blame most of these things directly on the government. But nothing happens in a vacuum, either. People with mild or no emotional problems develop some problems because of all the damage the government does to the economy and society. People who would have had moderate or severe emotional problems are even worse off, thanks to the unemployment, inflation, stagnation, frequent recessions, high taxation, litigiousness, and all the other government-generated problems which impair psychological functioning and emotional happiness. If you ask me, the federal government has a whole lot of nerve declaring clinical depression a threat to economic growth when the government itself has done so much to thwart the economic growth healthy and happy people require. It’s like blaming the victim.

I find it inconceivable that the government would start to require mental health evaluations of all citizens. Yet it seems to be setting the stage for doing so, based on this report. Who will perform these evaluations? Presumably, qualified mental health professionals. But there are many different opinions and theories running throughout the mental health and psychiatric professions, as described in my book. Which one of these positions will the government accept? Whose ideas and philosophies about the mind, emotions, and even ethics—all of which come into play in psychology and psychotherapy—will become the official stance of the government, when it comes time to determine who is mentally sound, and who is not? Remember, the government will rationalize such steps not just because of economic problems, but also because of criminal violence. Candidates on both the left and the right call on the government to “address mental health issues,” whatever that means.

All of this was predictable under government health care. It started with Medicare and Medicaid, and now it’s expanding to virtually everyone. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump have all expressed favorable attitudes, in varying degrees, towards single-payer health insurance for all. Doesn’t it seem logical and reasonable that once the government takes over all or most of medical payments, that government will start to issue official recommendations, and later requirements, including about the proper mental health of all Americans, whatever that means?

Government should get off the backs, off the bodies, out of the schools and out of the minds of the people. First, the people must start demanding it. And that takes a significant degree of mental health and self-confidence. It’s ironic. One measure of the lack of mental health in a society is the degree to which it hands over most personal functions to the government. If we’re dependent on the federal government to protect our mental health, we’re in a whole lot of trouble.

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