Taranaki Daily News 27 March 2012
Medicating children and teenagers to treat mental illness is creating a “toxic environment” for New Zealand’s youth, a suicide prevention advocate says. Maria Bradshaw, chief executive of suicide prevention group Casper has slammed the use of medication to treat those as young as babies for mental illness. “We are creating a toxic environment for our children. Schools or families may not be meeting their needs and instead of looking at ourselves as adults, saying we need to make changes, we’re making it something wrong about them,” Ms Bradshaw said. “We’re medicating them which is not only not beneficial for them but also harmful, creating an increase in violence and aggression and doubling the risk of suicide.”
Fairfax yesterday revealed youth services nationally have seen a spike in the number of children referred for treatment. Pharmac figures show an average 10 per cent increase in prescriptions of mood-stabilising drugs for children aged 5 and over compared to five years ago. The use of anti-psychotic medication among 10 to 19-year-olds has leapt 47 per cent since 2007, with 3240 children taking the drugs in 2011. But Ms Bradshaw says the situation is much more dire than those figures suggest.