Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Matt Drudge's latest "scoop":


The U.S. government is set to offer an online emotional rescue kit!

"Getting Through Tough Economic Times" will launch Tuesday with a media push across all platforms.

The site is meant to help people identify health concerns related to financial worries.

The feds will warn of depression, suicidal thinking and other serious mental illnesses. It will raise warning flags for: Persistent sadness/crying; Excessive anxiety; Lack of sleep/constant fatigue; Excessive irritability/anger.

The guide will be available starting at midnight at http://www.samhsa.gov/economy.


Oh, give me a break.

SAMHSA, which approaches these issues from a public-health perspective, has been generating material like this for years. Most of it is for mental-health professionals, but some of it is aimed at the general public. I don't recall a big Drudge headline, when, during Katrina (you'll recall that the president at the time of Katrina was a presumably non-nanny-state cowboy named Bush), SAMHSA offered the general public a number of lists of recommendations for recognizing and dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse in the wake of disasters. Scroll down here for more SAMHSA fact sheets and publications aimed at the ordinary citizens; let's see, this one ("Care Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event: What to Expect in Your Personal, Family, Work, and Financial Life") is from 2003, this one ("How Families Can Help Children Cope with Fear and Anxiety") is from June of 2002, and so on.

Gee -- what might have motivated a government agency focused on mental health to prepare lists of coping strategies back in 2002 and 2003? Could it have been a certain traumatic incident in 2001? In fact, SAMHSA published Mental Health Response to Mass Violence and Terrorism, a 192-page training manual for professionals, in 2004 (PDF). Page 17 lists some possible emotional reactions to terrorist acts, which include "Sadness, grief," "Anxiety, fear, worry about safety," "Anger, rage, desire for revenge," and "Irritability, short temper." Sound familiar, Matt?

Look, if you want to be libertarian about this, you can argue that this sort of thing, or maybe just the outreach to the general public, has always been a waste of tax dollars -- I won't agree with you, but you can make that argument.

But Drudge is implying that this is a new Obama-era nanny-state absurdity. And that's a damned lie.

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