Thursday, January 2nd, 2020 - CCHR

Losing track of a favourite stuffed toy, crying & temper tantrums could lead to a prescription for psychiatric drugs

Rather than fixing a staggering $9 billion a year broken mental health system, the current Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Mental Health Draft Report has instead put forth an alarming proposal to screen 1.25 million, 0 to 3 year old infants and toddlers for “mental illness” and “emerging mental Illness.”[1]Questions on checklists used to screen are so subjective that any child could be at risk of being labelled mentally ill and potentially recommended for a prescription of powerful psychiatric drugs. This is medicalising normal growing behaviour at its worst, labelling it with psychiatric diagnosis. 

Symptoms of so-called psychiatric disorders for 0 to 3 year olds include: Irregular feeding, difficulty sleeping, crying, separation from a parent anxiety, failing to keep track of a favourite stuffed toy, difficulty playing quietly, temper tantrums, shyness, and hyperactivity. [2]

Sounds a bit far-fetched that any right-minded person would allow babies and toddlers to be given psychotropic drugs? Think again. It has already been happening for years. In 2007/08 there were 53 Australian infants under one year old on antidepressants and antipsychotics (306 in total aged 0-3 on a psychiatric drug). By 2015 there were a staggering 7,817 children aged 2-6 years on psychiatric drugs in Australia (including 1,459 children on antidepressants [3] when no antidepressant is approved for use in children under 18 in Australia for depression).[4] These children have been given these drugs despite the Australian government issuing 67 psychiatric drug warnings including to warn of the risk of agitation, increased blood pressure, hallucinations, life-threatening heart problems and suicidal behaviour.[5]

Side effects reported to Australia’s drug regulatory agency (Therapeutic Goods Administration) include:

  • A 1 year old boy on the antipsychotic chlorpromazine suffered involuntary upward deviation of his eyes.
  • A 2 year old girl on the antipsychotic droperidol suffered severe hyperextension of the neck
  • A 3 year old girl on Ritalin had involuntary muscle movements described as lip-smack tongue protrusions.[6]

One of the most controversial actions being proposed is the screening of zero to three year olds for “emerging mental illness.” Put simply, psychiatrists claim they can predict future mental illness by the use of a checklist of arbitrary questions, which is simply not possible. This is akin to looking into a crystal ball and divining the future. It is proposed that maternal and child nurses in community health services will expand the existing physical checks to include mental health screening. They will refer the identified child for “final diagnosis,” which will again be based on a subjective checklist.[7]

Prof. Harvey Whiteford is appointed an Associate Commissioner for this inquiry. He is the psychiatrist who designed and oversaw implementation of Australia’s National Mental Health Strategy (which commenced in 1992). The very strategy which has seen multi-billions of dollars being spent, with little accountability and poor results. Between 2008 and 2012 alone, his company, Harvey Whiteford Medical PTY LTD, received more than $1.1 million from the Department of Health for providing planning and services for national mental health reform, etc.[8]

Executive Director of the Australian National Office of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Ms Shelley Wilkins warns, “These unscientific and subjective screenings are a disaster for our infants and toddlers. Workable and accountable programs which do not harm must be implemented.”

Submissions to lodge objections to this and other proposals close on Thursday 23rd January 2020.

Contact: Shelley Wilkins (02) 9964 9844 or [email protected]


[1] Productivity Commission, Mental Health Draft Report, Overview, Productivity Commission, 2019, p.11

[2] The DC:0-5 Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood, Zero to Three, 2016, pages, 26, 30, 51, 52, 56, 71, 92, 99, 102,111.

[3] ; ;

[4] Suicidality with SSRIs: adults and children,” The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, Adverse Drug Reactions Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 4, August 2005.

[5] “Australian Government Warnings & Other Actions on Psychotropic Drugs,” Layman’s summary of all Australian psychotropic drug warnings fully referenced to each Therapeutic Goods Administration warning available at, CCHR 2018.

[6] Therapeutic Goods Administration, “Public Case Detail,” Case numbers: 223102, 130789, 132576.

[7] Productivity Commission, Mental Health Draft Report, Productivity Commission, 2019, Volume 1, p. 11, Volume 2, p.658.

[8] Contract Notice ID numbers: CN99216, CN824891, CN415063, CN348304, CN205813, CN445908, CN41201, Aus Tender, Australian Government.

File Library

Contact Profile


The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious mental health industry watchdog whose mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health.  CCHR works to ensure patient and consumer protections are enacted and upheld as there is rampant abuse in the field of mental health.  In this role, CCHR has helped to enact more than 150 laws internationally protecting individuals from abusive or coercive mental health practices since it was formed over 50 years ago.

CCHR has long fought to restore basic unalienable human rights to the field of mental health, including, but not limited to, full informed consent regarding the medical legitimacy of psychiatric diagnosis, the risks of psychiatric treatments, the right to all available medical alternatives, and the right to refuse any treatment considered harmful. CCHR does not advocate for any particular medical, educational or particular treatment, but does advocate for giving people alternatives and resources to assist them in finding non-harmful solutions.

CCHR Offers a free public service to assist those who have been harmed in the psyciatric system. 

CCHR was co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and the late Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus Dr Thomas Szasz at a time when patients were being warehoused in institutions, abused, stripped of their civil and human rights, and left without recourse.

Shelley Wilkins
P: 02 99649844


Antidepressants, ADHD drugs, Mental Health, Babies, Infants, Toddlers



More Formats

View QR Code