Categories
General News

Human Rights Group Welcomes World Health Organization’s Stand Against Dehumanizing Involuntary Psychiatric Treatments

WHO cites no proven benefit, but significant evidence of harm from coercive mental health treatments, including forced drugging, restraints, and electroshock.

By Citizens Commission on Human Rights, National Affairs Office

New guidelines for mental health services issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) are a strong call to action for United Nations (UN) member countries, including the United States, to take bold steps to ensure that their mental health services are free from coercion, including forced drugging, the use of physical and chemical restraints and seclusion, and involuntary institutionalization.

WHO’s rejection of nonconsensual mental health treatment echoes the long-time advocacy of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to end involuntary treatment and harmful psychiatric practices and restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health.

A series of reports issued in June by WHO emphasize that coercive mental health practices are used “despite the lack of evidence that they offer any benefits, and the significant evidence that they lead to physical and psychological harm and even death.”

“People subjected to coercive practices report feelings of dehumanization, disempowerment and being disrespected,” WHO states.  “Many experience it as a form of trauma or re-traumatization leading to a worsening of their condition and increased experiences of distress.”

WHO’s call for an end to involuntary mental health treatment extends to those experiencing acute mental distress.  WHO notes that individuals in mental health crisis “are at a heightened risk of their human rights being violated, including through forced admissions and treatment….  These practices have been shown to be harmful to people’s mental, emotional and physical health, sometimes leading to death.”

CCHR’s co-founder, Thomas Szasz, M.D., a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry considered by many scholars and academics to be psychiatry’s most authoritative critic, agreed.  “The most important deprivation of human and constitutional rights inflicted upon persons said to be mentally ill is involuntary mental hospitalization,” he wrote.

The UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), signed in 2006, lays out the right to liberty and security for the disabled, including the mentally disabled.  This right also challenges the coercive treatment legally allowable under involuntary commitment laws, even when “justified” by criteria like “a need for treatment,” “dangerousness” or “lack of insight.”

Beyond involuntary commitment, WHO points out that additional rights in CRPD to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse also prohibit coercive practices, including seclusion, restraint, and administering psychiatric drugs, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and psychosurgery without informed consent.

The WHO reports lay out a vision of holistic mental health services, as contrasted with today’s narrow focus on the diagnosis and drugging of individuals to suppress symptoms, a mental health approach that results in “an over-diagnosis of human distress and over-reliance on psychotropic drugs.”

Additionally, WHO states that a series of UN Human Rights Council resolutions have called for a human rights approach to mental health services and for nations to tackle the “unlawful or arbitrary institutionalization, overmedication and treatment practices [seen in the field of mental health] that fail to respect…autonomy, will and preferences” of those seeking to recover from mental health challenges.

Years ahead of the WHO reports, Dr. Szasz advocated an end to forced psychiatric treatment, writing: “increasing numbers of persons, both in the mental health professions and in public life, have come to acknowledge that involuntary psychiatric intervention are methods of social control.  On both moral and practical grounds, I advocate the abolition of all involuntary psychiatry.”

As a human rights organization and mental health industry watchdog, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has exposed and campaigned against the abusive use of involuntary institutionalization and psychiatric treatments given without consent, including forced drugging, restraints, and involuntary electroshock.  CCHR’s Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights enumerates the rights we believe each individual is entitled to in the mental health system.

CCHR was co-founded in 1969 by members of the Church of Scientology and Dr. Szasz to eradicate abuses and restore human rights and dignity to the field of mental health.

Categories
Colorado Mental Health Institute News for Colorado

Pueblo DA Skeptical of Changes At Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo

Says Whole Scrapping Of The Culture Is Needed.

Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut publicly expressed his skepticism of claims by the Colorado Department of Human Services that improvements have occurred at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) in the wake of a patient death there last August.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, Thiebaut said “I don’t have a lot of confidence that there’s been a change out there.”  He went on to say that change would require a whole scrapping of the culture at CMHIP.

“We have a culture that has permeated the institution for years,” Thiebaut said.

That culture was the focus of a report issued by a Pueblo County grand jury that investigated the August 2010 death of patient Troy Geske.  The 41-year-old, who was obese and suffering from a respiratory infection, suffocated while being restrained face down and left unattended in a seclusion room at the facility for refusing to take psychiatric drug(s) prescribed to him.  See a summary of that report in our article “You Be The Judge: Pueblo Grand Jury Returns Findings In Death of State Hospital Patient.”

“The grand jury said things need to change from the top down,” Thiebaut continued.

Geske had been readmitted to CMHIP in July 2010 because he was experiencing mental symptoms that included auditory hallucination, depression, worsening confusion and aggressive behavior.

All of these behaviors are side effects of psychiatric drugs.  Geske’s ultimate death while under the control of CMHIP staff may well have been the direct result of the psychiatric drugs he was prescribed by psychiatrists at CMHIP – drugs that he was struggling to refuse at the time of his death, drugs he may well have known were destroying him.

Adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs, as detailed in research studies, warnings from international regulatory authorities and reports to the FDA, can be accessed through CCHR International’s psychiatric drug side effect search engine.

   If you have experience with “the culture” at CMHIP, we want to talk to you.  You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

Categories
Colorado Mental Health Institute News for Colorado

Man Died in Restraints at Colorado State Psychiatric Hospital

CMHIP withholds data requested by the district attorney and county coroner

An obese man who died in the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) suffocated while being restrained face down on a table. He may have been hog-tied.

Troy Allen Geske, 41, died August 10 at the psychiatric institution. An affidavit for a search warrant says that Geske died after he was put in four-point restraint, in which the feet are attached to the hands behind the back.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services, which oversees the psychiatric facility, denied Geske was in four-point restraint. But Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut said the information in the affidavit is corroborated by evidence that has been collected, including video of Geske in restraints, according to the Pueblo Chieftain:
http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_f75a23c2-b72f-11df-9494-001cc4c002e0.html
http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_59e5ca9c-b653-11df-8d64-001cc4c002e0.html

At 5-feet-8 and 265 pounds, Geske was at greater risk of “positional asphyxiation” when he was restrained on his stomach with his own weight pressing down on his lungs and diaphragm. Federal law requires constant, close monitoring of anyone face down in restraints to prevent suffocation.

The results of an autopsy and toxicology tests have not yet been released.

After Geske’s death, hospital police could have called in the 10th Judicial District’s critical incident team (CIT) for an independent investigation of the incident by a team of investigators from outside law enforcement agencies, but did not do so, according to the Pueblo Chieftain: http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_b4e5d92e-b7f1-11df-abf2-001cc4c002e0.html

The CIT investigates serious incidents involving police officers under an agreement to which CMHIP is a party. Hospital police were reportedly present when staff attempted to revive Geske.

CMHIP has also refused to turn over certain information requested by investigators. District Attorney Thiebaut says he will go to court if necessary to get information he believes his office is entitled to, according to the Chieftain.

For more than 40 years, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has advocated against any form of psychiatric treatment that is torturous, cruel, inhuman or degrading, as laid out in its Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights.