Freedom Center Protests Mental Health Screenings At UMASS

Submitted by lee on Sat, 05/12/2007 - 22:52

On Friday May 11 three Freedom Center volunteers and a volunteer from the Infocollective ( went to UMASS protest the mental health screenings.

These screenings were part of "national depression awareness week" and appeared to also be part of the New Freedom Commission (the Bush Administration plan to screen all Americans for mental illness)

The screenings questionare was a list of yes and no questions divided into six sections. On the back of the questionnaire was six correlating diagnoses for each of the questions (Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder).

Protestors peacefully gathered inside and outside of the UMASS psychology building to hand out fliers and start conversations with people going in to get screened for mental illness, random students, and professors in the psychology department. The fliers were also hung up all around the building. The fliers read, "Think Before You Screen: Are Mental Health Screenings Really for Your Benefit or For the benefit of the Psychiatric Industry?" and proceeded to spell out some important facts about mental health screenings. The flier itself will appear on the Freedom Center website soon.

Many people responded to the organizers with interest, curiosity, questions, or skepticm. There were several constructive conversations and a few more intense confrontations. Someone in the psychology department decided that the flyering was so threatening that they called campus security. Campus security was not interested in stopping the protest.

Since the Freedom Center is composed primarily of people who have been harmed by their psychiatric diagnosis and psychiatric treatment volunteers were trying to appropriately give people some information and some warnings about both the root of these screenings and their potential outcome.