Engaging the Controversies

Video: Hastings researchers Erik Parens and Josephine John­ston intro­duce their report on chil­dren and psychiatry

More and more chil­dren in the United States receive psy­chi­atric diag­noses and psy­chotropic med­ica­tions — this is not news. With those increased rates of diag­no­sis and phar­ma­co­log­i­cal treat­ment come some­times intense debates about whether those increases are appro­pri­ate, or whether healthy chil­dren are being mis­la­beled as sick and inap­pro­pri­ately given med­ica­tions to alter their moods and behaviors.

  • Why have the num­bers of chil­dren diag­nosed and treated increased, and what does this increase mean?
  • Are chil­dren being overmedicated?
  • Are sick chil­dren get­ting the care they need?

To bet­ter under­stand the­ses con­tro­ver­sies, The Hastings Cen­ter, an inde­pen­dent bioethics research insti­tu­tion, with a grant from the National Insti­tute of Men­tal Health, con­ducted a series of five work­shops over the course of three years that brought together clin­i­cians, researchers, schol­ars, and advo­cates from a vari­ety of dis­ci­pli­nary back­grounds with widely diverse views. In this report, we will describe many of the com­plex­i­ties, pay­ing close atten­tion to the inerad­i­ca­ble role that value com­mit­ments play not only in deci­sions about the appro­pri­ate modes of treat­ment, but also in diagnosis.