Dangers of labelling children 'mentally ill'



Professor Julie Allan

“Children are increasingly being given drugs by doctors to help teachers and parents cope with their troublesome behaviour. Certain behaviours or actions by children, such as not sitting still, are being judged as evidence of mental disorders and used to justify an official diagnosis.”

Read full opinion

Have your say

  • j weston
    1. At 9:42PM on 12 June 2014, j weston wrote

    Children should not be labelled as 'mentally ill' because they do not conform to 'normal' standards.

    However, the fact is that child needs a label before he/she and their family can get the help and support that they need.

    I speak from experience.

  • Lauren Davies
    2. At 10:36AM on 15 June 2014, Lauren Davies wrote

    I believe that if children are diagnosed as mentally ill this could lead to bullying ect. However if a child had for example depression it is important that they are treated with drugs ect in order for them to have the best chance of getting rid of the mental disorder.

  • Anna Oliver
    3. At 8:22PM on 15 June 2014, Anna Oliver wrote

    It was interesting to read that children from a poorer background a 4 times more likely to receive a diagnosis, but sadly this is clear around some areas of Britain. I currently work in an enhanced resource provision in a primary school situated in a low socioeconomic location and we see many children arriving with the diagnoses of ADHD and other labels. Although i agree that some diagnoses are needed to help a child through the education system, I do believe that are some diagnosed children who may have ADHD but do not require the medication and just require support. The right educational support to meet the child's needs, behavior interventions and teachers who have the enthusiasm to help these children through has worked wonders in my area of work. However, if this is technique is successful, then are these children really 'ADHD' or is the behavior and personality of the child due to nurture and not nature? And is there evidence that it is biological? If so then is there a reason why? A very interesting topic!

  • Alethia Clark
    4. At 11:34AM on 17 June 2014, Alethia Clark wrote

    I completely agree with this article. I think that asking children to sit still for hours at school is unnatural and not based on actually observing child behavior. I believe the evidence shows that children are born with sensitivities that will lead them to struggle with some things more than others, but the rest is in the environment and if we (teachers and other adults) can create a more tailored environment then the children will be able to correct some of these issues themselves. Also if the environmental factors are examined and addressed, then the children with issues truly requiring medication would be more obvious.