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United States Public Schools Ought to Require Mental Health Testing for its Students

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/3/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 333 times Debate No: 90610
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
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I affirm the resolution that Mental Health Testing Ought to be Required for United States Public Schools.

Mental health has become an unaddressed pandemic. School shootings, specifically that of Columbine in which the Eric Harris is considered an undiagnosed psychopath and Dylan Klebold is considered an undiagnosed depressive. Mrs. Klebold even published a book on the topic of mental health in schools, with all proceeds going towards mental health advancements.

However, while school shootings are the most dramatic consequence of the lack of mental health advocacy, many teens suffer equally as much without committing acts of crime.

Burden of Mental Illness:

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, states that 20% of adolescents between the ages of 13-18 live with a mental health condition. The alliance continues by saying that suicide is the second leading cause of death in the ages 10-24, with many of these suicides caused by undiagnosed mental illnesses, stating that 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness. NAMI notes that half of all chronic illness begins by the age of 14; and three-quarters by the age of 24. Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14­–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.

Along with violence, drug abuse has also become a topic of concern involving school students. NAMI states that among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.

Lack of Attention:

However, with all of these issues, mental health has still not developed enough attention, as only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year, and just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.

With suicide as the second leading cause of death in the school-grade age group and it's link to chronic drug abuse, 50% of sufferers receiving help is not enough.

Prevalence of the Crisis:

An estimated 9% of children between ages 3–17 have ADHD, which causes significant decrease in school performance and critical thinking. Approximately 8% of children and teenagers experience the negative impact of an anxiety disorder at school and at home. Most people develop symptoms of anxiety disorders before age 21. This can lead to panic and fear of attending school, leading to lack of school participation and attendance. Young adults aged 18–25 are 60% more likely to have depression than people aged 50 or older, which is one of the leading causes of suicide. And
according to the World Health Organization,mental illnesses account for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. The World Health Organization continued by saying that few get help: 76-85% of serious cases went untreated in low and middle income countries, 35-50% of cases in high income countries.

Children are suffering in American schools. These statistics substantially outweigh any probative value of Con. If we allow for more mental screening in public schools, we can prevent suicide by diagnosing the undiagnosed. We can relieve the stress of anxiety disorders. We can help those who are too afraid to ask for help. We need to affirm the resolution in order to save the lives and quality of life for children everywhere.


Columbine School Massacre:
Mrs. Klebod's novel, A Mother's Reckoning:


Challenge accepted.

Ok, now where were we?

My opponent has attributed the Dylan Klebold case to his psychopathy. I prefer to attribute it to the lax gun control laws in America. If there was no gun, he would not have been able to conduct that school shooting. However, informing him of his psychopathy might have prompted a fit of rage followed by hysterics and drama.

So let me just start off by saying that it's fundamentally wrong to put such mistrust on people. By mandating Mental Health Screening, we are sending the message that something is wrong with kids with Mental health issues. It breeds the pass/fail mentality which alienates many youths from their respective communities. It is up to the parents to decide whether or not they wish to screen their child's mental health. If the school were to enforce it, it takes away our basic right to choose.

Additionally, mental health issues can have various degrees. In my own case, I possess ADHD with less hyperactive, more attention deficit. However, a friend of mine who is also ADHD is more hyperactive than inattentive. These varying degrees make it extremely difficult to judge whether or not problems will actually arise. I think that in your argument, you refer only to extreme cases and have failed to account for more moderate cases.

You have also failed to draw the link between depression/suicide/drug abuse and mental disorders. Therefore, I argue that suicide and drug abuse cases arise mainly due to circumstance rather than mental disorders. Abused children are more likely to experience depression, commit suicide or do drugs due to their situation rather than a mental condition. Rather, sociopaths are less likely to care due to their nihilistic nature and ADHD is really not that big of a deal. Speaking as a person with ADHD, the biggest problem is inattentiveness which is by no means a reason for me to kill myself or go into depression.

In conclusion, the varying degrees of mental disorders combined with the fundamental error of removing our right to choose are 2 reasons why mental health screening should not be carried out. Furthermore, mental disorders are not the leading causes of suicide, drug abuse or depression. Instead, circumstance is the main cause of these misfortunes.
Debate Round No. 1


My opponent has created false accusations. I claimed that Dylan Klebold was a depressive; I believe my opponent is referring to Eric Harris.

My opponent claims that if there was no gun it would solve the problem, however Dylan and Eric actually created their own pipe bombs in order to commit the act. The shooting was meant to blow up the entire school and not simply be a shooting.

He or she has presented no evidence to his or her claim, making an unsupported opinion that it would create a feeling of "something wrong" with those with mental illness. However, with any illness, there is something wrong with the victim. There is a biological unbalance of neurotransmitters in those with mental illness; there is something biologically wrong. They need help. Which is why you must vote con.

I have accounted to moderate cases. I present ADHD, your example of a moderate case.

I have not failed to draw a connection, as I present statistics that connect them. The claims my opponent states to contradict me are not supported by numbers and thus are an unsupported claim that should not be considered. I make claims to connect the subjects of suicide and depression and drug abuse with multiple sources and statistics (see my first argument).

My opponent conclusion makes nothing by unsupported fact and opinion. You must vote in my favor.


My opponent operates under the mistaken belief that statistics are the be all and end all of debates. Yes, there is a trend. However, we have answered the question of "Is there a link" and not "What is the link".

My opponent has also stated that we NEED to help people with Mental disorders. However, the purpose of school is to teach students how to be self-reliant and to solve their own problems. I suggest the counter-policy of presenting the OPTION for professional help to be provided. I repeat, enforcing that help only serves to remove our basic right to choose and prevents students from finding their own solution. As a matter of fact, schools already employ a counsellor who's job is to help students with disciplinary issues.

Additionally, I would like to reiterate my earlier point that the mental disorder itself is not the cause of depression or suicide. Rather, this mental health screening might itself cause depression among students. No one likes to be told that something is wrong with them.

The ability to manage oneself cannot be taught and each individual must learn through a process of trial and error what works for them. My opponent has failed to acknowledge that many people are capable of managing their mental disorders which is why they have only become prevalent to date. I find it logical to assume that, had mental disorders been as unmanageable as stated by my opponent, their prevalence throughout history would have been better documented.

If mental disorders are so unmanageable, I think our society would fall apart as statistically, 25% of the global population have mental disorders (

Hence, enforcing mental health screening only serves to kill one of the key purposes of education which is to learn self-reliance. Instead, this screening should be presented as an option to be taken by worried parents. Again, I will reiterate my point that many people are capable of managing their mental disorders and that new subjects will be unable to learn how they can manage theirs if they rely on others. For these reasons, I am proud to oppose.
Debate Round No. 2


The following paragraphs correspond with the order of my opponents paragraphs/arguments:

My opponent does not understand that claims without evidence are invalid and are ignored throughout the debate.

I urge my opponent to find proof or evidence that all schools employ counselors. Besides, "Ought" is defined as "used to express justice, moral rightness, or the like" by This explains nothing about "needing" to do something, it is simply just and moral.

I urge my opponent to find any proof or evidence that mental health screening, the helpful finding and curing of mental illness, encourages depression.

One cannot learn to manage a mental illness by his or her self. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain that must be cured by professional help.

Mental disorders are manageable with help from doctors.

Again, my opponent makes nothing by opinionated, unsupported statements. You must vote pro.


First, allow me to note that my opponent had failed to state that "claims without evidence are invalid and are ignored throughout the debate" in the preliminary round.

Second, while I find it extremely myopic of my opponent to disregard the logic of my arguments in favour of evidence, I will take up the challenge.

Evidence for self-management of mental disorders sources are:

I would also like to note that my opponent has displayed ignorance of mental disorders and their effects.

While it is true that mental disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain, my opponent likens it to the common cold by saying that it can be cured. The fact is, mental disorders are more similar to cancer. They are mainly genetic in origin and hence cannot be cured. They can only be managed. It is true that doctors can manage mental disorders, but what kind of doctors? In my own case, a psychologist diagnosed my ADHD and a psychiatrist is helping me to manage it.

My argument is supported by these sources:

I will also reiterate the fact that people have been managing their mental disorders throughout history. If they were so uncontrollable that self-management is out of the question, we would then have a lot more mental asylum patients and many more cases of historic "madmen".

I will also extend my argument that mental disorders have varying degrees. My earlier example of myself and a friend of mine both having ADHD with myself as more inattentive and my friend as more hyperactive remains. This is a simple comparison which illustrates my point. The fact that my opponent has ignored this point implies that he agrees with it which calls into question his/her entire argument.

An additional argument I shall make is that it is expensive to hire psychologists and/or psychiatrists to evaluate the mental condition of so many students and in so many schools. It stands to reason that were the school to subsidise the entire operation, they would hire professionals with a low fee. This in turn calls into question the competency of the doctor and reliability of the results.

If the students were to pay for the screening, it would alienate students from a financially unstable background as they would be forced to pay psychologist fees in addition to school fees which many people are currently struggling to afford.

Hence, as my opponent has demonstrated his/her lack of knowledge in the area of mental disorders and also a lack of concern for the expense of the operation, you should vote for opposition.
Debate Round No. 3


The following is in order of my opponent's paragraphs:

I do not need to state this. That is a main component to debate. Without evidence, claims are merely opinion and invalid.

My opponent uses opinion in his logic arguments and are thus invalid. My opponent has yet to state an argument with statistic (until his most recent argument), while from the very beginning I have had both logic and evidence arguments.

My opponent has merely stated sources, he has not proved the sources are valid or tied them to the debate. His sources are merely stated and not tied to any argument. In fact, if my opponent read his articles, he would realize that they mention self-management as a skill learned from professionals. His first source states:

"Many people are using self-management without realising it, but formal self-management skills can be learnt on courses, usually run by people with direct experience of mental ill health."

His second source states a program run by professionals in order to help in self-management:

"Several manualized self-management programs have been developed in recent years, but perhaps the most widely disseminated is Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Planning known as WRAP (Copeland 1997)."

Thus, my opponents sources back me up.

Not only this, but his sources have nothing to do with the public school system.

Ignorance? That's very mature to insult me during the debate. I am currently studying psychiatry and the effects of the brain. My opponent states that his ADHD gives him credit in the field, but I am actually studying this along side professionals. Clearly I know what I am talking about. Mental disorders can be managed to the point where they no longer are evident in the person's life. "Cured" is defined as "relieve (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition." This is able to be achieved by medicine and therapy, however only if the disease is recognized. As I stated in my original argument, undiagnosed mental disorders is a serious problem that can be managed in our school system alongside the physical testing of eyes, ears, height, and weight.

Again, my opponent merely stated sources. He or she did not tie them to arguments or the debate at hand.

Asylums and madmen have been a major part of history. This is common knowledge.

I realize that they have varying degrees. I mention this is my first argument using the proof of ADHD.

The government pays for the nurses currently in schools, so the nurses that are already being paid for could administer the testing (as they are qualified as professional nurses).

For all of these reasons, you must vote pro.


Not true that statistics are required to debate, formal debate competitions can have impromptu motions.

Anyway, my first source states that self-management CAN be learned from professionals, but such aid is not always necessary. My second source merely gives an example of such a lesson. Also, of course my sources have nothing to do with the public school system, I'm arguing THAT STUDENTS ARE CAPABLE OF MANAGING ON THEIR OWN which only requires you to observe your peers. Additionally, by stating that you are STUDYING psychology, you acknowledge that you are also not qualified in that field.

The fact that my sources have been stated has no bearing as your sources have also only been stated. I understand that I objected to my opponent doing this earlier. However, I believe that such behaviour should be reciprocated.

As for school nurses conducting psychological tests, that is a ridiculous proposal. I find it alarming that my opponent, who claims to be studying psychology, does not realise that psychology is a specialised field. School nurses would be trained in first aid and clinical emergency treatment, but certainly not psychology!

Upon reflecting on the debate, I have realised that my opponent has still failed to refute my points, instead claiming that they are "invalid" due to a lack in evidence. She has also failed to present new substantives or elaborate on her existing ones when I prompted her to do so.

Therefore, I will reiterate the debate in full.

My Opponent has:
Claimed that mental disorders are directly linked to depression, suicide and drug abuse
Assumed that all students are incapable of self-management over their mental disorders
Failed to realise the financial issues of hiring a professional psychologist
Clinged to the belief that it is impossible to learn self-management of mental disorders by oneself

I have:
-Refuted my opponent's claim regarding the link between mental disorders.
Just because there is a trend is no reason to assume that a direct link exists.
-Refuted my opponent's assumption that students are incapable of self-management
People have been historically capable of doing this and my earlier sources do support this. Additionally, schools are supposed to preach self-management and self-reliance. Enforcing aid for mental health when individuals are capable of self-management defeats this purpose.

In conclusion, the proposition has demonstrated a lack of awareness in the area of mental disorders resulting in her argument being blown out of proportion. The fact that mental disorders have varying degrees dictates that certain cases will be manageable while others will not. Side proposition has also disregarded the financial problems that will arise in hiring professional psychologists as well as displayed an alarming level of ignorance regarding the specific nature of the field despite her position as a student of this discipline.

I repeat once again that many people are capable of managing their own mental disorders without external aid and the employment of professional psychologists will alienate students of an unstable financial background. For these reasons, I urge you to vote for Opposition.
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by klaralein 5 months ago
A little bit, yeah, haha. But that's always how my mind works. It deviates onto miscellaneous tangents and then eventually connects to return to the original topic.
Posted by Orose_Khan 5 months ago
Come to think of it, we did deviate from the actual topic, didn't we?
Posted by klaralein 5 months ago
Just some tips since I know you are a new debater: You try and use logic, however you make assumptions in your logic. Unless you have proof or evidence for your assumptions, they are nothing other than opinions. For instance, you can't assume that humanity would have suffered as a whole. Suffering is subjective; you can't assume something subjective about all of humanity unless you have evidence (such as a diary entry or statistic).j

You made the claim so you have the burden of proof. You fell for the falacy of "Unless you can prove it's not true, then it must be true." When in reality, since you have the burden of proof, you must prove that you are correct; otherwise I am right by default. If you make a claim and cannot back it up, it is deemed wrong. In the debate world, claims go as "false unless proven true."
Posted by Orose_Khan 5 months ago
If people were unable to manage it without professional help, then what have you to say of the many people with mental disorders who lived prior to the existence of professional help? Surely, humanity would have suffered as a whole seeing as how about 25% of the global population has mental disorders which is a hereditary trait. Yet, Mankind has survived since our earliest days and has even thrived hence supporting my point. What even is your definition of successful? Can you then prove that we HAVE NOT been historically successful in managing mental disorders?
Posted by klaralein 5 months ago
You have yet to find a link between the prominence of it in relation to self-management. Can you prove that self-management is the reason it is less prominent, if you can even prove it could've been less prominent at all?
Posted by Orose_Khan 5 months ago
I never said they weren't prominent, I'm saying they would be even more prominent.
Posted by klaralein 5 months ago
How are they not prominent throughout history? There is a wide range of treatment, discrimination, and poems throughout history describing mental illness. Just because it was not as widespread as The Plague does not mean that it wasn't a huge part of history. Plus, due to infant mortality rates and inbreeding, mental illness was not an uncommon occurrence.
Posted by Orose_Khan 5 months ago
Well, if we haven't been historically successful in doing this, mental disorders would have been more prominent throughout history. As it is, the prevalence of mental disorders in this time is due to advancements in medical science. I had already compared it to cancer which is similarly incurable and owes its prevalence to advancements in medical science.
Posted by klaralein 5 months ago
Do you have any proof that historically we have been successful? Otherwise there's no reason to believe that that is true.
Posted by Orose_Khan 5 months ago
I agree with the diagnosis part and I suppose we can agree to disagree regarding the self-management part. However, I think your fear in that area is misplaced. Humans have a pretty good track record of managing this kind of thing historically. Otherwise, we'd have a lot more insanity cases. The reason why not everyone can do it is because of... the chaos theory I guess? Neuroplasticity makes the brain really sensitive to even the most seemingly insignificant factors.
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