CCHR Renews Call for Laws to Prohibit Restraining Children with Drugs After Use in Psychiatric Facilities Rose 141%

Young, male, Black, and economically disadvantaged children were disproportionately restrained with antipsychotic drugs.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

The use of antipsychotic drugs to chemically restrain agitated children who are hospitalized for mental health conditions rose 141% in recent years, largely as a result of more pediatric admissions to psychiatric facilities, a new study reports. Young, male, Black, and economically disadvantaged children were disproportionately administered pharmacological restraint. The study did not investigate how many of these children were taking mind-altering psychotropic drugs, whose side effects could have led to their hospitalizations and agitation.

Searching a health records database for pediatric patients aged 5 to 17 years admitted to the medical units of 43 children’s hospitals for mental health conditions from 2016 through 2021, researchers focused on children who were administered any of five antipsychotic drugs intravenously or by injection, presumably for acute agitation. The researchers acknowledged this was a narrow definition of pharmacologic restraint.

They found that one of every 33 mental health hospitalizations of children involved restraint with antipsychotic drugs. Researchers noted that another study using a broader definition of pharmacologic restraint found that one in eight children’s mental health hospitalizations involved sedation with psychotropic drugs.

Overall, the number of days antipsychotics were used to restrain children increased by 141%.  Males, Blacks, children aged 5 to 8, children who were economically disadvantaged, and children covered by public insurance were disproportionately subjected to the drugging.

“The observations noted in this data set…are suggestive of racial and socioeconomic disparities within pharmacologic restraint use in the United States,” wrote Benjamin Masserano, MD, of the pediatrics department at University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, lead author of the study, which was published in Pediatrics.

The number of days of pediatric mental health hospitalizations increased 138% during the period studied, continuing a trend over the past two decades. Researchers cited a previous study which found that the rise in hospitalizations of children for psychiatric conditions was five times greater than the increase in pediatric admissions for any reason between 2005 and 2014.

Since psychiatric diagnoses and emergency procedure laws used for hospitalizations rely on subjective assessments, which lack any objective basis or scientific validity, it is far too easy to admit children to psychiatric facilities for mental health treatment. Allen Frances, M.D., professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine and chairman of the task force for the 4th edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,  put it this way: “There are no objective tests in psychiatry – no X-ray, laboratory or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder.”

Once children are too easily admitted, the hospital environment itself might bring on agitation, the researchers observed, which increases the likelihood of restraints.

The researchers, however, did not investigate a link between psychotropic drug use and pharmacological restraint. Some 6.2 million children in the U.S. under the age of 18 are prescribed powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs, which carry the risks of serious side effects that include agitation, anxiety, aggression, mania, hallucinations, psychosis, violence and suicidal thoughts and action.

These adverse effects, suffered by children taking the drugs prescribed to them as mental health treatment, can lead to the hospitalizations and agitation that result in chemical restraint. The antipsychotic drugs used to restrain the children also carry these side effects. As the researchers further cautioned, any restraint “can be associated with significant medical and psychiatric complications” and so make children’s mental and physical health conditions worse.

In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidance on ending all coercive mental health treatment, including forced admission to psychiatric facilities, restraints, seclusion, forced drugging, and nonconsensual electroshock. WHO stated that its opposition to nonconsensual mental health treatment extends even to individuals in mental health crisis, who “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.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has been a global leader in the fight to eliminate coercive and abusive mental health practices and has specifically called for laws to prohibit physical and chemical restraints. CCHR has long pushed for widespread adoption of a Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights, which lays out fundamental human rights in the field of mental health to ensure the right to one’s own mind and the right to be free from forced mental health treatment.

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Holiday Blues? Research Finds Alternatives That Avoid Questionable Benefit and Known Side Effects of Antidepressants

Research validates the effectiveness of trusted social connections, exercise, proper diet, enough sleep and other non-drug approaches for handling depression.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

Managing the holiday blues can be a challenge for those missing a loved one, dealing with burdensome family issues, or feeling overwhelmed by the demands of an increased level of holiday activity. Researchers studying depression have shed new light on approaches for turning things around that don’t involve prescription drugs.

Antidepressants, which may be prescribed for depression, have been found in recent research studies to have questionable benefit over dummy pills for adultsolder people, or children. Antidepressants also carry the risk of adverse effects that include weight gain, nausea, insomnia, agitation, emotional blunting, sexual dysfunction, suicide and violence.  On discontinuing the drugs, patients may experience withdrawal symptoms  that can be severe.  Patients can discuss any concern about these risks with their prescriber.

The main rationale for prescribing newer generation antidepressants – to fix a supposed lack of serotonin or other brain chemical presumed to be the cause of depression – has been challenged by recent research which concluded that, after decades of brain research, there is still no scientific evidence to support the theory.

Because the drugs have questionable benefit and carry the risks of significant side effects, researchers have been exploring and finding scientific support for non-drug approaches to depression.

Studies have indicated that exercise can significantly reduce depression symptoms in children and teens, and that even relatively small amounts of physical activity were associated with a substantially lower risk of depression in adults and the elderly.

The largest synthesis of data from research studies to date on the effect of exercise on depression found that exercise is as effective as antidepressant drugs or psychotherapy and should be offered as a treatment alternative. “Exercise is efficacious in treating depression and depressive symptoms and should be offered as an evidence-based treatment option,” researchers wrote.

Talking with a trusted friend or other social interaction is not just a good idea if you’re feeling low, but may be the best way to lower the risk of depression setting in, according to recent research.  Individuals with more supportive or more frequent social contact have fewer symptoms of depression, with face-to-face interaction more beneficial than by phone or video.

Still other research points to the antidepressant value of getting enough sleep, especially for children, and of eating a healthy diet.  Attending religious services was found to decrease the risk of suicide in adults and improve the mental well-being of teens. Having a hobby was also associated with fewer depression symptoms and better mental health.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) recommends a complete physical examination with lab tests, nutritional and allergy screenings, and a review of all current medications to identify any physical causes of depression or other unwanted mental and emotional symptoms, which might otherwise be misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated as a psychiatric disorder.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of an antidepressant or other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

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Under International Pressure, Psychiatrists Forced to Confront Ending Coercive Mental Health Practices

New evidence of the extent of and harm from involuntary mental health treatment emerges, as efforts continue to minimize or end the coercion.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

Calls by international health and human rights organizations to end the use of coercive practices in mental health treatment have resulted in new research reports and recommendations to psychiatrists on how to move towards zero coercion.

In a groundbreaking report issued in 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health called for the elimination of nonconsensual mental health treatment, stating: “Coercion in psychiatry perpetuates power imbalances in care relationships, causes mistrust, exacerbates stigma and discrimination and has made many turn away, fearful of seeking help within mainstream mental health services.”

The psychiatric practices targeted for eradication include involuntary institutionalization, the forcible administering of psychiatric drugs, the use of mechanical and chemical restraint and seclusion, and nonconsensual electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, or electroshock).

In 2019, the Council of Europe (COE) adopted a resolution that called on its member nations “to immediately start to transition to the abolition of coercive methods in mental health settings.” The resolution cited evidence pointing to the “overwhelmingly negative experience of coercive measures, including pain, trauma and fear.” The COE further stated: “Involuntary ‘treatments’ administered against the will of patients, such as forced medication and forced electroshocks, are perceived as particularly traumatic. They also raise major ethical issues, as they can cause irreversible damage to health.”

More recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidance in 2021 advising countries to end coercive mental health practices, which it said 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.” The WHO guidance extends its call for prohibiting coercion even to those experiencing acute mental distress, noting that individuals in mental health crisis “are at a heightened risk of their human rights being violated, including through forced admissions and treatment.”

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

As a result of these calls for reform, evidence has emerged that at least some psychiatrists are confronting the harm of coercive practices and looking to reform those practices.

In an article recently published in Psychiatric Rehabilitative Journal, psychiatrists reported on interviews with patients who were not allowed to make decisions about their own mental health treatment, but were subjected involuntarily to treatment decided by others.  Analysis of the interviews showed patients strongly rejected the substitute decision makers, felt strong stigma because of their exclusion from the decision-making, and struggled to regain their autonomy.

A new study, published in The Lancet, investigated whether the implementation of three of 12 guidelines issued by the German Association of Psychiatry in 2018 to reduce coercive treatment was effective. The 12-month study, comprising 54 German psychiatric wards, found that the use of coercive measures dropped by nearly half (45%) over the course of the study in wards whose staff received ongoing support for implementing the guidelines. Even in the wards acting as the control group, whose staff only received an initial workshop presentation of the study, coercive measures declined by 28%.

Italian and Swiss psychiatric researchers recently investigated to determine the prevalence of the use of mechanical restraint, which is “an extremely debated topic,” they wrote. Mechanical restraint restricts a patient’s freedom of movement without their permission, typically in a psychiatric setting by strapping the person’s arms, legs and torso to a table. The finding that 14% of the psychiatric patients – one in every seven – had been put in mechanical restraint during in-patient treatment at the Italian psychiatric unit being studied led the researchers to call for methods of limiting the practice. “It is time for national and international guidelines on [mechanical restraint] in psychiatric patients,” they urged. The study was published in Medicina.

Peter Gotzsche, M.D., director of the Institute for Scientific Freedom in Copenhagen, recently wrote about an autistic 24-year-old who, after being wrongly subjected to mechanical restraints and forced drugging in a Danish psychiatric ward, took his case to the European Court of Human Rights. The court had previously ruled that the continued mechanical restraint of another Danish psychiatric patient after he was completely calm was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights’ prohibition against inhuman or degrading treatment. As a result of the more recent case, the Danish Psychiatry Act was amended in 2021 so that guards watching a patient in mechanical restraint must make notes on the patient’s condition every 15 minutes and release the patient as soon as they are calm.

As an aside, Gotzsche wrote: “In Iceland, seclusion and restraint were abolished in 1932 and never used again. That year, psychiatrist Helgi Tomasson took the shackles, straightjackets and other physical restraints that existed in the mental hospital, Kleppur, and burnt them in a furnace – all except one set, which he sent to the Parliament where it is still on display. This should be done in all countries.”

Years before the current movement to end coercive psychiatric practices, Citizens Commission on Human Right (CCHR) co-founder, the late professor of psychiatry and humanitarian Thomas Szasz, M.D., advocated an end to forced psychiatric treatment. Considered by many scholars and academics to be psychiatry’s most authoritative critic, Dr. Szasz wrote: “Increasing numbers of persons, both in the mental health professions and in public life, have come to acknowledge that involuntary psychiatric interventions are methods of social control. On both moral and practical grounds, I advocate the abolition of all involuntary psychiatry.”

CCHR has been a global leader in the fight against the coercive and abusive use of involuntary commitments, seclusion and restraints, psychiatric drugs, and electroshock. In 1969, CCHR issued a Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights that laid out fundamental human rights in the field of mental health to ensure the right to one’s own mind and the right to be free from forced mental health treatment.

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Despite Claims of Safety, Electroshock Caused Memory Loss in Majority of Teens in New Study, CCHR Warns

Researcher says study failed to show the safety or efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

Despite ongoing claims from psychiatrists that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, or “electroshock”) is safe and effective, research continues to indicate otherwise.

John Read, Ph.D., at the School of Psychology, University of East London in London, England, points to a new study from China that reported a “high response rate and safety” from ECT administered to 110 adolescents. In fact, the data showed that the majority of the participants experienced memory loss following the procedure, according to Read.

“What is especially concerning about this particular study is that it reports that 76 of the 110 teenagers (69 %) suffered ‘memory impairment’ after the ECT,” he wrote, reporting in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“When even the psychiatrists themselves acknowledged that 69% have impaired memories as a result, this does not indicate a treatment with a ‘high’ degree of safety,” he advised.

How the loss of memory function was measured was not disclosed in the Chinese study, but the assessment was apparently done by the psychiatrists who conducted the study. Read speculates that the rate of memory impairment could have been even higher if the measuring had been done by independent evaluators using validated cognitive tests.

The study lacked a control group receiving placebo (general anesthesia but not the electric shock), which is the same shortcoming found in all ECT studies since 1985, according to Read.

The study also did not include any follow-up beyond the end of treatment, which Read has found is typical of ECT studies.

“So, contrary to the claims of the [study’s] authors, little can be concluded about [ECT] efficacy,” Read wrote.

While the study reported that side effects, including memory loss, were “transient,” without any follow-up “the psychiatrists had no basis for making such a claim,” Read observes.

He cites studies that have found that persistent or permanent memory loss occurs for between 12% and 55% of adults who receive electroshock treatment. He notes that the American Psychiatric Association acknowledged in 2001 that “evidence has shown that ECT can result in persistent or permanent memory loss.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), electroshock can cause brain damage, cognitive impairment, permanent memory loss, prolonged or persistent seizures, worsening psychiatric symptoms, cardiovascular complications (including heart attacks), breathing complications and death.

ECT shoots up to 460 volts of electricity through brain tissue to induce a grand mal seizure, the most serious type of seizure, which can last up to 30 minutes.

Psychiatrists still do not know how ECT is supposed to “work,” how much voltage it will take, or how many sessions of ECT to administer. It is a matter of trial and error with human lives.

Psychiatrists may recommend ECT for deeply depressed patients, but the risk of suicide remains highly elevated after patients receive electroshock treatment. The odds of patients committing suicide in the year after receiving electroshock is not significantly statistically different from the odds of those who did not receive it.

The World Health Organization and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently issued guidance advising that “people being offered ECT should also be made aware of all its risks and potential short- and long-term harmful effects, such as memory loss and brain damage.” The organizations also called for legislation to prohibit the procedure for children.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) advocates a total ban on ECT and continues to raise public awareness about the brain damage it causes. To date, more than 134,000 people have signed the CCHR online petition to ban ECT.

CCHR recommends a complete physical examination with lab tests, nutritional and allergy screenings, and a review of all current medications to identify any physical causes of depression or other unwanted mental or behavioral symptoms, which might otherwise be misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated as a psychiatric disorder.

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Heart Disease Risk Increases the Longer ADHD Drugs are Taken, Study Finds

Researchers advise prescribers to keep monitoring patients on ADHD drugs for symptoms of heart disease.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

A new study has found that the longer individuals take drugs for so-called attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the higher their risk of heart disease, particularly high blood pressure and artery diseases. This greater risk was similar for children, adolescents and adults. The study advises doctors to consider the risks when making treatment decisions.

Researchers involved in the study noted that clinical trials have found increases in heart rate and blood pressure associated with both stimulant and nonstimulant ADHD drugs. The new study investigated whether those heart-related effects led to clinically significant cardiovascular disease over time.

Using the health records of all individuals living in Sweden aged 6 to 64 who had a diagnosis of ADHD or were prescribed an ADHD drug between 2007 and 2020, the researchers found that the length of time the users took the drugs was associated with a statistically significant increase in the risk of heart disease, particularly high blood pressure and artery diseases, as compared to those not taking the drugs.

“Longer cumulative duration of ADHD medication use was associated with an increased risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease] compared with nonuse,” wrote lead author Le Zhang, Ph.D., at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.  The study was e-published ahead of print in JAMA Psychiatry.

The researchers found that the risk of heart disease increased rapidly over the first three years of taking ADHD drugs, for a cumulative 3-year increased risk of 8%, after which the risk increased 4% each year. These increases in risk were similar for all ages and regardless of the gender of the individual taking the drugs. The risks were also greater with stimulant-type ADHD drugs. The researchers advised prescribers to keep monitoring patients who are taking ADHD drugs for symptoms of heart disease.

“Monitoring becomes even more crucial considering the increasing number of individuals engaging in long-term use of ADHD medication,” Zhang wrote.

Currently, over 9 million Americans are taking ADHD drugs, with one in three of them children under the age of 18. Concerns have been raised about the overdiagnosis of ADHD and the prescribing of ADHD drugs, especially to children, after some studies have suggested the drugs do more harm than good.

Recent research has found that commonly prescribed stimulant-type ADHD drugs do not improve cognitive ability, enhance academic performance or provide any long-term benefit to children and teens.

A diagnosis of ADHD for teens is associated with lower self-esteem, worse social behavior, and a significantly increased risk of self-harm, especially in those diagnosed with ADHD early in life (6-7 years of age).

Statistics from the National Poison Data System from January 2018 to September 2020 show that the number of cases of self-harm, including suicide attempts, using prescription stimulants averaged 213 a month for teenagers aged 13-19 and 71 a month for young adults aged 20-29.

The frequency with which children and teens have the drugs given to them incorrectly is rising steeply, leading to a quadrupling of related calls to poison control centers over the past two decades, with children under 6 years of age at greatest risk of a serious medical outcome from the errors.

The stimulant-type ADHD drug methylphenidate, sold under brand names including Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall and Vyvanse, has been linked to depression in children and teens.

Methylphenidate is classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule II controlled substance, in the same category as cocaine, morphine, and opium.  The DEA defines controlled substances as “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently acted out of concern over prescriptions for stimulant drugs at near-record highs in the U.S., after rising by 45% from 2012 to 2021.  It required new black-box warnings in the prescribing information for the stimulant drugs prescribed for ADHD “to address continuing concerns of misuse, abuse, addiction, and overdose of the prescription drugs,” and “to clearly inform patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals of these risks.” The boxed warning is the most serious warning the FDA can require for prescription drugs.

Even more fundamentally, ADHD is a label subjectively applied to a collection of behaviors common to children. A “diagnosis” of ADHD has no scientific basis – no lab tests, brain scans or any other scientific proof of it, making it a label that is far too easy to pin on children.

The late psychologist Keith Conners conducted the first formal trials on methylphenidate. He later realized that ADHD diagnoses were out of control and called ADHD misdiagnoses “a national disaster of dangerous proportions.”

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) urges the FDA to take stronger action to protect Americans, especially children and teens, from the risks of abuse, addiction, overdose, and other serious harms now linked to prescription stimulants.

WARNING:  Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of an ADHD drug or any other psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

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CCHR Calls on Congress to Align U.S. with International Human Rights Standards and End Coercive Mental Health Treatment

Research indicates coercive practices negatively impact physical and mental health, often compounding a person’s existing condition.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) calls on Congress to pass legislation to align the U.S. with international human rights standards by ending coercive mental health treatment and implementing a human rights-based approach to mental health services.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted in 2006, recognizes the need for major reforms to protect and promote human rights in mental health treatment.  To help countries achieve those reforms, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its “Guidance on Community Mental Health Services” in 2021.

“Countries need mental health services that reject coercive practices, that support people to make their own decisions about their treatment and care, and that promote participation and community inclusion,” WHO advised.

Coercive mental health practices include forced admission to psychiatric facilities, forced drugging, physical or chemical restraint and seclusion, and involuntary electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, or “electroshock”). WHO also advised addressing “the power imbalances that exist between health staff and people using the services.”

WHO stated that its opposition to involuntary mental health treatment extends even to those experiencing acute mental distress. The report noted 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.”

In October, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) jointly issued a publication, Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation, to provide a blueprint for laws that promote human rights in mental health and end the human rights violations and forced treatment in mental health services that are made possible by current laws.

“Human rights abuses and coercive practices in mental health care, supported by existing legislation and policies, are still far too common,” their news release stated.

The United Nations-affiliated entities advise a complete overhaul of mental health systems by U.N. member countries, including the United States. “Our ambition must be to transform mental health services, not just in their reach, but in their underlying values, so that they are truly responsive to the needs and dignity of the individual.”

The WHO/OHCHR report points out the harm of non-consensual mental health treatment in worsening an individual’s condition. “A growing body of evidence sets out how coercive practices negatively impact physical and mental health, often compounding a person’s existing condition while alienating them from their support systems,” the report says.

This view is backed up by research indicating that forced hospitalization for mental health treatment is both ineffective and harmful to mental health. A recent study found no benefit  to patients’ mental health condition and no reduction in their risk of suicide after receiving nonconsensual mental health treatment.  Another indicated that psychiatric in-patients were actually more likely to attempt suicide after release if they were admitted and treated against their will, as compared to those who were not.

The World Health Organization and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a blueprint for laws promoting human rights and ending forced treatment in mental health services that is made possible by current laws.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has been a global leader in the fight to eliminate coercive and abusive mental health practices. CCHR has long pushed for widespread adoption of a  Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights, which lays out fundamental human rights in the field of mental health to ensure the right to one’s own mind and the right to be free from forced mental health treatment.

CCHR’s co-founder, the late professor of psychiatry and humanitarian Thomas Szasz, M.D., advocated an end to nonconsensual psychiatric treatment. Considered by many scholars and academics to be psychiatry’s most authoritative critic, Dr. Szasz wrote: “Increasing numbers of persons, both in the mental health professions and in public life, have come to acknowledge that involuntary psychiatric interventions are methods of social control. On both moral and practical grounds, I advocate the abolition of all involuntary psychiatry.”

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Psychiatric Diagnoses, Treatment with Psychiatric Drugs Linked to Worse Socioeconomic Outcomes for Patients, Study Finds

Psychiatric diagnoses and drugs were linked to lower income, increased unemployment, greater likelihood of being single and living alone.

by CCHR National Affairs Office

A new study from Denmark found that a large majority of the Danish population has been diagnosed with mental disorders and treated with psychiatric drugs, which researchers then linked to a subsequent increase in long-term socioeconomic difficulties, including lower income, higher unemployment, and a greater likelihood of being single and living alone. The study serves as a warning to the United States, as the number of Americans being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders and treated with psychotropic drugs continues to rise.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Duke University, and King’s College London examined the medical records from 1995 to 2018 of 1.5 million randomly selected citizens of Denmark to see if the diagnosis of mental disorders or treatment with psychotropic drugs is associated with subsequent socioeconomic functioning, including employment, income, and residential and marital status.

They found that 83% of the group had been given a diagnosis of a mental disorder and/or a prescription for a psychotropic drug at some point in their lives. Among females, the figure was 88%, and for males 77%.

Rather than leading to improvement in important socioeconomic factors in the lives of patients, the diagnoses and drug treatment were linked to worse long-term outcomes.

“Socioeconomic difficulties were associated with mental health disorder/psychotropic prescriptions, including lower income, increased unemployment or disability benefit, and a greater likelihood of living alone and being unmarried during long-term follow-up,” wrote lead author Lars Vedel Kessing, MD, psychiatry professor at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Commenting on the study, psychiatrist Peter Breggin, M.D., wrote: “When 80% or more of the population is treated as mentally ill, the concept has no meaning or relevance, except that it results in two powerfully disabling outcomes: (1) psychiatric drugs that universally disable the brain temporarily and too often permanently and (2) stigmatization and demoralization that undermine how the individual is viewed by himself and others.” Breggin goes on to say that the brain dysfunction caused by the drugs “can cause persistent mental, emotional, and spiritual decline, as confirmed in the Danish study.”

Psychiatric “diagnoses” have no scientific basis in the first place. In 2013, psychiatrist Thomas Insel, M.D., then-director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), rattled the psychiatric field by publicly admitting that there is no objective, scientific validity for psychiatry’s “diagnoses” of mental disorders.

The “diagnoses” were voted into existence by psychiatrists in an attempt to use a biomedical model in psychiatry, as in the field of medicine. Because the “diagnoses” remain based on subjective opinion, not lab tests, X-rays, or other scientific measures, mental disorders can be easily “diagnosed” and drug treatment prescribed, leading to Denmark’s extraordinarily high saturation of the population with psychiatric diagnoses and drugs.

More recently, Insel admitted in his 2022 book, Healing, that as head of the NIMH from 2002-2015, he directed billions of dollars into research looking for biological causes of mental disorders, in search of support for a biomedical model in psychiatry, but that his efforts were unsuccessful, failing to improve the mental health of Americans in any meaningful way.

He noted that during his tenure at NIMH, more Americans received mental health treatment, but mental health outcomes actually worsened by many measures. Suicides, overdoses and the rates of homelessness and incarceration of those diagnosed with mental disorders all increased – a worsening of social factors consistent with the negative outcomes found with the high level of mental health treatment in the Danish study.

Insel recognized the failure of psychiatric drugs and practices to help those in mental distress return to good mental health. With the number of prescriptions for psychiatric drugs having increased dramatically over the past several decades and with one in four Americans – some 77 million – currently prescribed a psychiatric drug, he was forced to ask himself the question: “Why, with more people getting more treatment, are the outcomes worse for people with mental illness?”

He sees part of the answer in the psychiatric field’s heavy reliance on psychotropic drugs, criticizing current mental health treatment as “focused only on relieving symptoms and not on helping people recover.”

In short, Insel has helped make the case that the current psychiatric practice of labeling people with a “diagnosis” and prescribing psychotropic drugs as treatment is doing more harm than good.

The psychotropic drugs prescribed as mental health treatment have a vast array of adverse effects that include mood swings, diabetes, weight gain, heart problems, aggression, psychosis, hallucinations, impulsivity, violence, and suicidal thoughts and actions, which no doubt contribute to worsening socioeconomic outcomes. Hundreds of warnings issued by international drug regulatory agencies and findings from research studies on the dangers of psychiatric drugs can be found in the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) psychiatric drug side effects database.

Psychiatry’s use of a biomedical model also takes a psychological toll on the individual. Psychology professor John Read and psychiatry professor Joanna Moncrieff, writing in Psychological Medicine, described the negative effect of telling patients that their unwanted emotional or behavioral issue has a biological cause, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain – a theory found to have no scientific basis.  They write that assigning a biological cause can be “profoundly disempowering” to the individual, focusing their attention on taking drugs instead of addressing the underlying causes of their mental distress.

“It encourages people to view themselves as the victims of their biology, to adopt pessimistic views about recovery, increases self-stigma and discourages people from taking active steps to improve their situation,” they wrote.

WARNING: Anyone wishing to discontinue or change the dose of a psychiatric drug is cautioned to do so only under the supervision of a physician because of potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

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CCHR Warns New Study Indicates Black Patients in Psychiatric Facilities More Likely to Be Restrained and For Longer

Researchers suggest the racial disparity may be evidence of systemic racism in psychiatry, call for measures to reduce the use of restraints.

NEWS PROVIDED BY

Citizens Commission on Human Rights, National Affairs Office

WASHINGTON, DC, US, November 7, 2023 — Black psychiatric patients are more likely to be physically, mechanically, or chemically restrained in a psychiatric facility and for a longer time than White in-patients, a new study shows.

Using medical records of nearly 30,000 teens and adults who received in-patient psychiatric treatment between 2012 and 2019, researchers found that Black patients were 85% more likely to be restrained than their White counterparts. Multiracial patients were 36% more likely than Whites to be restrained. Black patients were also restrained for a longer period of time.

Restraint was defined as a physical or mechanical hold in which patients were unable to move their limbs, body or head or were administered drugs to restrict their movement.

“The findings indicate racial disparities in the frequency and duration of restraint events among Black and multiracial individuals,” wrote lead author Sonali Singal, B.S., at the Institute of Behavioral Science, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, in Manhasset, New York. The study was published in Psychiatric Services.

The researchers suggest this racial disparity may be evidence of systemic racism in psychiatry and called for measures to address racial bias and reduce the use of restraints.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued new guidance  on ending all coercive practices in mental health services worldwide, citing research that such nonconsensual treatment negatively impacts physical and mental health and can worsen a person’s condition.

Coercive practices include involuntary detention, restraints, seclusion, forced drugging, and involuntary electroshock.

Following the publication of the WHO guidance, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health watchdog organization, delivered an open letter to the American Psychiatric Association, calling on the organization to issue a formal statement endorsing an end to coercive psychiatric practices.

Other research indicates systemic racism in the mental health system. A 2022 study found that Black patients who go to hospital emergency rooms for mental health issues are significantly more likely to be restrained chemically, typically by means of an antipsychotic drug. “You are 63% more likely, for the same set of chief complaints, to be chemically sedated if you are Black versus if you’re White,” a senior investigator connected with the study reported.

A 2022 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on the use of mental health services operated or funded by state mental health agencies also showed evidence of systemic racism in the U.S. mental health system. African Americans received disproportionately more diagnoses of mental disorders related to disruptive, defiant, and psychotic behavior and disproportionately more mental health treatment for behavioral issues than other racial and ethnic groups.

Systemic racism was finally acknowledged in a public apology in 2021 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), in which the APA admitted psychiatrists’ role “in perpetrating structural racism” and confirmed that psychiatrists’ “appalling past actions, as well as their harmful effects, are ingrained in the structure of psychiatric practice.”

The American Psychological Association issued its own public apology in 2021 for the “racism, racial discrimination, and denigration of people of color” committed by psychologists, after compiling what it called “a stunning chronology” of psychology’s history of racism. The apology acknowledges the role of psychologists “in promoting, perpetuating, and failing to challenge racism, and the harms that have been inflicted on communities of color as a result.”

Since its founding in 1969 as a human rights organization and mental health industry watchdog, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has exposed and campaigned against racism and racial abuse in the mental health system. CCHR intensified its efforts in 2020 by forming the CCHR Task Force Against Psychiatric Racism and Modern-Day Eugenics, led by Rev. Fred Shaw, Jr.  Its mission is to investigate and combat institutional racism and inform and empower the African American community with the facts about racism masked as mental health care.

CCHR has also worked with the NAACP since 2003 in exposing the stigmatizing labeling and drugging of African American children and, with Rev. Shaw, in obtaining the three national NAACP resolutions related to these issues.

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World Health Organization Calls Involuntary Electroshock Treatment a Human Rights Abuse

New guidance from World Health Organization and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also calls for laws banning electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for children.

NEWS PROVIDED BY

Citizens Commission on Human Rights, National Affairs Office

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have jointly issued new guidance that opposes the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, or electroshock) on individuals who have not given their free and fully informed consent for the procedure. It also calls for the procedure to be prohibited for children. The new advisory is part of entities’ continuing advocacy for replacing coercive mental treatments with human rights-based mental health services.

Concerning electroshock, the new report, “Mental health, human rights and legislation: guidance and practice,” issued October 12, says “significant controversy surrounds the use of ECT and its associated risks,” noting that the procedure is now banned in Luxembourg and Slovenia and is declining in use in still other countries.

Electroconvulsive therapy is a procedure that sends a strong electrical current through brain tissue, causing convulsions, in an attempt to improve depression or other mental health conditions. It is not known how ECT is supposed to work. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never required ECT treatment to be proven safe or effective.

For countries allowing it, including the United States, the WHO-OHCHR guidance says that ”ECT must only be administered with the written or documented, free and informed consent of the person concerned.” For the consent to be fully informed, WHO-OHCHR advises that “people being offered ECT should also be made aware of all its risks and potential short- and long-term harmful effects, such as memory loss and brain damage.”

Nonconsensual ECT may be considered a human rights abuse, according to the WHO-OHCHR publication. “International human rights standards clarify that ECT without consent violates the right to physical and mental integrity and may constitute torture and ill-treatment.”

The guidance opposes any use of ECT on children and calls for laws to be enacted to ban it: “ECT is not recommended for children, and this should be prohibited through legislation.” In the United States, reports filed at the state level on the use of ECT indicate that some children 5 years of age and younger are given electroshock.

According to the FDA, electroshock can cause brain damage, cognitive impairment, permanent memory loss, prolonged or persistent seizures, worsening psychiatric symptoms, cardiovascular complications (including heart attacks), breathing complications and death.

Even psychiatrist Max Fink, considered “the grandfather of American ECT,” admitted that “the principal complications of ECT are death, brain damage, memory impairment and spontaneous seizures.”

“The minimisation of risks is not uncommon in ECT practice and research,” wrote professor of psychology John Read, Ph.D., after he and colleagues conducted three audits of patient information pamphlets about ECT. They found that pertinent information was omitted, including the lack of evidence of long-term benefits, the fact that it is not known how ECT is supposed to work, and that similar rates of effectiveness were achieved by people receiving sham (placebo) treatment. There is also no proof of any brain dysfunctions that ECT could correct, according to Read.

The FDA requires ECT machines to have signs next to them stating, “The long-term safety and effectiveness of ECT treatment has not been demonstrated,” Read observed.

CCHR recommends a complete physical examination with lab tests, nutritional and allergy screenings, and a review of all current medications to identify any physical causes of depression or other unwanted mental or behavioral symptoms, which might otherwise be misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder and incorrectly treated.

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Failure – The New Psychiatric Success

There is a whole psychological / psychiatric area of interest which we will call “The Embrace Failure” field.

The premise is that one should embrace failure to learn from it.

Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what one should be doing. It is typical of psychiatry and psychology that they emphasize what will make a person worse instead of better. This technique keeps a person as a patient in the mental health industry, instead of actually curing them so they return fully sane and functioning well into society.

In this universe whatever is validated becomes more prominent, more important, and more solid. This stems from the natural law that anything which a person believes is important is solid or big. The more important a person believes something to be, the more solid he is liable to make it.

Thus the psychiatric practice of putting one’s attention onto one’s failures grants those failures importance and solidity, causing them to hang around instead of vanish.

It is certainly OK to effectively address failures with workable techniques to take responsibility for them. However, the fact is that the psychiatric and psychological practice of embracing failures is not workable, grants them importance, and makes them more solid, instead of actually taking responsibility for them.

The correct practice is to bit by bit increase one’s Knowledge, Responsibility and Control over an area of life, ignoring the losses and making the wins firm, to discover more power and command of life.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights not only exposes human rights violations in the field of mental health, but actively works alongside individuals and groups the world over to bring about much needed reform. You can help by increasing your Knowledge about the psychiatric abuse of human rights, taking some Responsibility for carrying on this vital work, and thus bringing about more Control over psychiatric fraud and abuse. Here are a few things you can do:

1. Distribute CCHR documentary videos and publications.
2. Teach your associates the truth about the dangers of psychiatric drugs.
3. Report any psychiatric mental health abuse.
4. Participate online by joining our social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter).

5. Encourage your associates to subscribe to this newsletter.
6. Monitor and report on mental health legislation in your state legislature.
7. Donate to your local CCHR Chapter.

Let us know your area of interest and we will show you how to get started.

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