Screening for Mental Health, Inc

Douglas Jacobs, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, is the Founder and President of Screening for Mental Health. He is a consultant to McNeil Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer.[1] He devised the idea of a national Depression Screening Day, which was held in 1991, funded by a grant from Eli Lilly.

Thousands of sites in hospitals, corporations, and universities around the country provided free depression screening, which involved people answering a modified version of the Zung Self-Rating Scale, a subjective questionnaire lasting less than five minutes. [2] By 1998, more than 60 million prescriptions for antidepressants had been written for 10% of the American population, including half a million children.[3]

Jacobs had strong endorsement from the APA. “The American Psychiatric Association is an original sponsor of National Depression Screening Day, endorsing the idea from its very beginnings in 1991,” said Jacobs.[4] No wonder. Jacobs is also the Chair of the APA work group that formulated its Practice Guideline for the Assessment and Treatment of Patients With Suicidal Behaviors.[5]

He produced a “Model for Suicide Assessment” which was supported by Novartis.[6]

  • In an interview in April 2008 about antidepressants causing sexual dysfunction Jacobs disputes both this and that exercise has been proven as an effective alternative to taking suicide-inducing antidepressants. The real motive behind broad scale mental health screening was clear when he stated that the real problem is that not enough people are taking SSRI antidepressants.[7]
  • A photo taken in honor of “National Depression Screening Day” on October 18, 2001, shows Eli Lilly presenting SMH with a further check for $500,000.[8]
  • In 2002, The Wall Street Journal reported how the group was helping Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to market “Depression in College: Real World, Real Life, Real Issues,” a 90-minute forum designed to introduce students to the antidepressant Effexor (made by Wyeth). “The nation’s 15 million college students are an important market for drug companies looking to build antidepressant sales,” WSJ reported. Wyeth joined with Pfizer (Zoloft) and Eli Lilly (Prozac) to help underwrite the National Depression Screening Day to also take place at campuses. It prompted The Boston Globe to report “the biggest drug dealer on campus” is Big Pharma.[9]
  • Up to 2008, SMH had received nearly $5 million from pharmaceutical companies. Lilly gave them $124,000 in 2007 and $100,000 in 2008.[10] According to a 2006 article IRS records show the group received $2,823,425 in donations from major pharmaceutical companies and $5,974,217 from the US Department of Health and Human Services.[11]
  • Ten of its psychiatric researchers have been exposed during the past year for failing to disclose millions of dollars in pharmaceutical payments.[12]
  • In 2006, Pharma’s investment in the group paid off. The Department of Defense (DoD) began funding the spuriously called “Military Pathways”—a program whereby veterans and Defense personnel and their families can “self assess” their mental health. On October 8, 2009, SMC announced further funding from the DoD. “Military Pathways is a program of the non-profit Screening for Mental Health([R]) and is fully funded by Force Health Protection and Readiness, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs,” SMC’s press release stated.[13]
  • Today, year-round screening is available 24 hours a day and takes less than four minutes to answer 10 questions. The computer analyzes the touch phone responses and the caller is told how depressed he is.[14]
  • Its website today shows how it has branched out to target everyone for screening: Colleges, the Military, Primary Care/Specialty Care Providers, Youth Programs and the Workplace as well as a general screening “For the public.” In 2006 alone, it conducted nearly 600,000 screenings at 12,000 facilities.[15]
  • The free online depression-screening test is copyrighted to Pfizer.[16]

Board members of SMH include,

  • More on Douglas Jacobs: In March 22, 2006, he testified on behalf of McNeil Pharmaceuticals and its stimulant Concerta to the Food and Drug Administration’s Pediatric Advisory Committee investigating stimulants causing cardiovascular effects and the need for a “black box warning.” Jacobs was one of the two “Sponsor” (drug company) presentations.[17] An apologist for Concerta, he said he reviewed the FDA’s studies relating to suicide and tried to claim that the suicide attempts were “proof of lack of response of dose response” and “The majority of cases of suicidal ideation and attempts were not in the severe category and can be explained by multiple alternative explanation” and “do not support a causal link between the suicide events and Concerta.”[18]
  • Concerta and other methylphenidate products carry an FDA warning that they cause “psychiatric events such as visual hallucinations, suicidal ideation, psychotic behavior, as well as aggression or violent behavior.” The FDA ordered drug makers to strengthen warnings about risk of heart irregularities, stroke and these “psychiatric events.”
  • In September 2008, the FDA cited Johnson and Johnson (owner of McNeil) for “false or misleading” data that “overstate[d] the efficacy of Concerta” and omitted key facts. Under its web page, entitled “After School,” it “presents claims about the impact of treatment with Concerta on after school activities. Specifically, the page states: “Adolescence is a time of greater independence and responsibility. For most teens, the after-school hours are filled with plenty of activities, including:
    • sports
    • clubs
    • part-time jobs
    • socializing with friends
    • household chores
    • and, of course, homework

    “ADHD can have an impact on all of these activities, so you want to be sure your teen’s medication is doing its job.”

  • FDA pointed out, “This presentation is misleading because it asserts improvement with Concerta in a broad array of adolescent after school activities, such as athletics, clubs, and performance in part-time jobs, when this has not been demonstrated by substantial evidence.”[19]
  • Leonard Freedberg M.D.: psychiatrist in private practice and founding partner of Newton-Wellesley Psychiatry in Newton, MA and Harvard Faculty member.[20]
  • Dr. Jefferson Bruce Prince, Harvard Medical School, Consultant for Abbot, AstraZeneca, Cephalon, McNeil Pediatrics, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Ortho-McNeil, Novartis, and Shire; speaker’s bureau for Janssen, Ortho-McNeil, Eli Lilly, and Forest Labs, and has received honoraria from Abbott, Cephalon, Novartis, and Shire and list significant financial interest or other affiliation in GSK, Shire, Organon, Lilly Research Labs, Alza Pharmaceuticals and Celltech.[21]
  • Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, Chief of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital: Consultant or on the Advisory Boards for Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Cyberonics, Eli Lilly, Forest Labs, Organon Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, GSK, Somerset Pharmaceuticals, Novartis, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Sepracor and Wyeth, Speaker’s bureau for Forest, Janssen, Organon, Eli Lilly, Wyeth and Forest Labs. Significant financial interest or other affiliation with US Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Sanofi, Lichtwer Pharma, Parke-Davis, Janssen Pharmaceutica & Research Fdn, Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc.[22]
  • James Henry Scully, Medical Director and CEO of the APA, with 30% of its funding from pharmaceutical companies.[23]

See Signs of Suicide, part of Screening for Mental Health.


[2] Joseph Glenmullen, M.D., Prozac Backlash, (Simon & Schuster, NY, 2000), pp. 228-229.

[3] Joseph Glenmullen, M.D., Prozac Backlash, (Simon & Schuster, NY, 2000), p. 15.





[8] Evelyn Pringle, “Bush’s Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move,” Scoop, 10 July 2006.

[9] Alex Beam, “”The Biggest Drug Dealer on Campus,” The Boston Globe, Oct. 17. 2002; Paul Glader, “From the Maker of Effexor: Campus Talks on Depression,” Wall Street Journal, 10 Oct. 2002.


[11] “TeenScreen ‘Under Intense Criticism Nationally’,, 11 Mar. 2006.



[14] Joseph Glenmullen, M.D., Prozac Backlash, 228-229.


[16] Evelyn Pringle, “Bush’s Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move,” Scoop, 10 July 2006.