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Forced Medication

9th National Forum of Seclusion and Restraint

Report on the 9th National Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Forum

 

The 9th National Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Forum in Canberra on the 28th and 29th of November, 2013 addressed the issues surrounding the overpowering of mental health consumers in Australia and offered alternatives to seclusion and restraint. At the end of the first day, the Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Alan Fels, presented the National Seclusion and Restraint Declaration.

 

The declaration asserted that “seclusion and restraint of people with mental health problems is a human rights issue”, it is “not therapeutic” and it is “distressing to everyone involved.” It called for change.

 

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National Recognition of Mad in Australia

Justice Action has achieved a considerable victory! This comes from the National Mental Health Commission who, in their 2nd Report Card, has quoted our work "Mad in Australia" as expressing the voices of the people in the justice system regarding mental health. It says that those views and stated needs must be incorporated in any promising practice for changed policies in a failed system, costing up to $1,000,000 a person a year.

This means that we will now be listened to, rather than excluded as an illegitimate outsider, with no power, especially regarding the most unpopular and socially excluded people in the community. This acknowledgement is now being used as leverage in negotiations with bureaucracies within the criminal justice sytem and government.

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Forced Medication

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Mental health patients possess the same human rights as every other individual in the world. According to both international and national law, they should be treated as citizens entitled to community support. Mental health facilities have a duty to care for patients in a humane, respectful manner. However the reality is that they are granted unbounded discretionary power to force vulnerable patients to take medication whenever the professionals believe it is appropriate. Overpowering the consumer in the form of seclusion and restraint has recently been examined by the 10th National Forum for the Reduction of Seclusion and Restraint, held in May 2015, as well as at the 9th National Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Forum, in 2013. It is the easiest management tool to keep people sedated sitting or lying down, and not help them to recovery.


Mental Health Accountability and Chemical Restraint: Research and Recommendationsis a Justice Action study into mental health consumer preferences regarding medication and the willingness of authorities to consider collecting this data. 

Mad in Australia: This publication exposes the history of abuse of mental health patients in historical and cultural context. It identifies how the culture of doctors forcing medication on mental health patients began, in breach of their ethical obligations, and against the evidence of its effectiveness. It also offers solutions.

The Emperor has no clothes: Justice Health’s lack of concern for the welfare of its clients is blindingly obvious and yet the health industry still pretends it is fulfilling its obligations.
Justice Action's paper presented at Justice Health in Australia: Equity in Health Care, 15 August 2012. Available in mp3 format here.

The Our Pick Report: This report written by Justice Action concerning the state of mental health in Australia. Justice Action decided to focus on the mental health area after it had become apparent that a new strategy was required to defend community interest and prisoners' rights against the law and the added effects of tension, boredom, powerlessness and isolation occuring in imprisonment. Many prisoners become forensic patients or remain in prison under medication: the rates of major mental illness in prisons have been found to be three times higher tha that of the general population. This report confront the abuse of 'care' in mental health and prisons.

Mental illness policy issues: There are serious failings in the way that public policy addresses mental illness in our society. The most serious failings as well as other inherent issues within mental health have been identified that is broadly reflected in Mental Illness Policy Issues. The single greatest cause of distress and difficulty; to the greatest proportion of those living with mental illness, is the way our society responds to them.


Media Release: Mental Tribunal Permits Torture

 

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