If you’ve been to college, experienced employment workshops or career counseling, or you’ve been tested for some employment opportunities, you might recall the phrase “MMPI Testing.” Let’s take the mystery out of the initials. The Psychologist Anywhere, Anytime site has a succinct definition that indicates “The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) was designed to help identify personal, social, and behavioral problems in psychiatric patients. It’s use has, over the years, been greatly expanded. The test helps provide relevant information to aid in problem identification, diagnosis, and treatment planning for a client and it has often been used in job screening and other non-clinical assessments. Some of the uses, both accepted and controversial, include:
- Criminal justice and corrections
- Evaluation of disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, clinical depression and schizophrenia
- Identification of suitable candidates for high-risk public safety positions such as nuclear power plant workers, police officers, airline pilots, medical and psychology students, firefighters and seminary students.
- Assessment of medical patients and design of effective treatment strategies, including chronic pain management
- Evaluation of participants in substance abuse programs
- Support for college and career counseling
- Marriage and family counseling.“
That definition of the MMPI test leaves us with a question, though: “What about younger people whose psychological problems warrant recognition identification, diagnosis, and treatment?” The partial answer to the question is that in 1996 an MMPI test designed for adolescents aged 14 to 18 was released. Children 13 years old and younger wouldn’t be likely to understand the questions due to the different reading and comprehension levels at that younger age. The reading and comprehension levels can differ according to public and private school education, too.
That under-13 age group, however, holds sufficient numbers of children troubled by personal, social and behavioral problems (e.g., delinquency, depression, ADD, ADHD, failure to psychologically mature) that warrant identification, diagnosis, and treatment. The evidence of that is in the startling statistics at the Child Mind Institute’s Children’s Mental Health Report; 17.1 million of the 74.5 million kids in the USA have mental health disorders. The National Alliance on Mental Health site indicates that “Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14” and that
- 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.19
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.,20 the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–1421 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.22
- More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.23
- Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.24
The rise of social skill remediation courses, juvenile delinquency, books, and related classes for the parents of mentally troubled children testify to a significant lack of mental health in the under-13 age group. Consider the numbers of children being raised by grandparents because their biological parents died, and the mental health issues involved. That’s a common situation in West Virginia, which suffered America’s highest drug-overdose death rate in 2014. The figures have not improved over time. The rising numbers of orphans have made a serious impact on their character development. So have the headline-worthy numbers of suicides in West Virginia.
The opioid epidemic, the increasing alarm over cellphone addictions and the impairment of cellphone use on emotional and social development in children plus other factors too numerous to mention, are affecting mental health in youngsters. The MMPI administrators might do society a favor by creating a test for children under thirteen.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.