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18 Feb
0

CCHR Calls Involuntary Psychiatric Examination of Children in Florida a Human Rights Abuse

Over the past two weeks there has been a viral reporting of the tragic involuntary psychiatric examination of a 6-year-old girl in Jacksonville, Florida. Called a Baker Act, involuntary psychiatric examination is part of the Florida mental health law and it applies to anyone no matter their age. This media storm has focused the attention of the entire country on Florida and the fact that the current mental health law is being abused and used inappropriately.

According to the Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a watchdog organization that investigates and exposes abuse in the mental health industry, the Baker Acting of this child is a human rights abuse and could have been avoided by simply calling the mother and giving her an opportunity to help her child. As quoted on CBS This Morning, Martina Falk wants to know why her daughter was Baker Acted instead of being given the love and attention she needed. [1]

“The law as it is currently written allows for family or friends to help a person in crisis, including a child, yet parents are not being contacted prior to a Baker Act,” said Diane Stein, President CCHR Florida. “This is why the law needs to be amended to clearly state the role a parent, guardian or caregiver should have in the process.”

That the Baker Acting of children is a major situation is known and has been known for decades which is why legislation has been filed year after year to amend the law to bring the parents into the process before a child has been taken into custody. This is also why a task force was created in 2017 and why over a 15 years ago the Florida Senate published an Interim Project Report clarifying the Baker Act requirements as they relate to children. [2] The project in 2005 was created due to concern of how the Baker Act was being applied to children and the perception that the involuntary examination procedures were being used inappropriately for minors. At that time a main concern was that children were being held in receiving facilities for extended periods of time without sufficient exploration of less intrusive alternatives. It took another 12 years before the mental health act was amended to ensure that receiving facilities expedite the examination of children when during the 2017 legislative session the examination period for minors was reduced from 72 hours to 12 hours. Tragically, during those 12 years over 295,000 children were sent for involuntary examination – many without parental knowledge of the initiation.

Currently there is an involuntary examination of a child every 15 minutes of every day and it is known that a significant percentage of these children do not meet the criteria. This was made clear during the 2017 Task Force when it was made known that an estimated 30% of the children being Baker Acted in Pinellas County did not meet the criteria. [3]

Once a child is Baker Acted, they are at risk of being forcibly treated with psychiatric drugs. This is done through what is called an emergency treatment order. In watching the body cam footage of the little girl in Jacksonville, who was so calm and polite while being transported to the psychiatric ward, Diane Stein said that the question must be asked “why was she injected with psychiatric drugs?” and “what could a 6-year-old child do that would warrant this and why was the mother kept out of the decision to give this child whatever she was injected with?”

While the overall issue of children in crisis is complicated, the simple fact remains that if parents were being brought into the process before the initiation of a Baker Act a large percentage of these situations would be resolved. The vast majority of parents in Florida are good willing people who would do anything to help their child but the fundamental right they have to decide what is in the best interest of their child is being taken away from them.

Sources:

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-baker-act-6-year-old-girl-sent-to-mental-health-facility-by-school/

[2] http://archive.flsenate.gov/data/Publications/2006/Senate/reports/interim_reports/pdf/2006-103cf.pdf

[3] https://myflfamilies.com/service-programs/samh/involuntary-examination-minors/docs/20170720/20170720-minutes.pdf

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23 Dec
0

Watchdog Calling for an Investigation into the Baker Acting of Children in Florida

In 2018 an astounding 36,078 involuntary psychiatric examinations were initiated on children in Florida, an almost 19% increase over the past four years. [1] Called a Baker Act, an involuntary examination of a minor allows for a child to be taken into custody and transported to a psychiatric facility without parental consent or knowledge.

Launching a campaign at the beginning of 2016 to put an end to this violation of parental rights, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit mental health watchdog, has worked to educate families at hundreds of community events and has helped to raise awareness on this violation of child and parent rights to more than 208,000 concerned individuals.

CCHR’s campaign educates citizens on the existing law and provides parents with a form they can fill out and file with their children’s school. This form uses existing state law to help protect parental rights. Families interested in learning more about how to protect their children, or to obtain a copy of the form, are encouraged to visit the CCHR center at 109 N. Fort Harrison in downtown Clearwater or to download the Parental Baker Act Non-Consent Form on the website, www.cchrflorida.org.

“The vast majority of calls we received from parents clearly show that the child never met the criteria for involuntary examination,” said Diane Stein, President of CCHR Florida.

Over the past year CCHR has filed hundreds of complaints with government agencies and State Legislators reporting violations of human, parental and child rights and while some changes have been made the changes are not sufficient to stem the abusive use of the Baker Act.

As a result, CCHR is calling for the following:

• Steps implemented at a government level to ensure greater oversight and ultimate accountability for the for-profit and not-for-profit psychiatric treatment sector and its billing practices
• The abusive use of the Baker Act stopped and parental rights restored
• Substantial penalties enacted for violation of any point of the mental health law

“Parental rights in Florida are in jeopardy and the Baker Act is one of the sources of erosion of these fundamental rights,” said Stein. “Action needs to be taken now to protect families and restore rights.”

Sources:
[1] https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/baker-act/documents/ba_usf_annual_report_2017_2018.pdf

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CCHR Florida is raising awareness of the abuse suffered by the elderly under the mental health law especially the unnecessary and potentially harmful involuntary psychiatric examination of seniors, a process called Baker Acting.
18 Dec
0

CCHR Warns: Baker Acting the Elderly Can be Fatal Due to ‘Transfer Trauma’

CCHR Florida is raising awareness of the abuse suffered by the elderly under the mental health law especially the unnecessary and potentially harmful involuntary psychiatric examination of seniors, a process called Baker Acting.

CCHR Florida is raising awareness of the abuse suffered by the elderly under the mental health law especially the unnecessary and potentially harmful involuntary psychiatric examination of seniors, a process called Baker Acting.

Transfer trauma, also known as relocation stress syndrome, has been studied since the 1960s and according to controlled studies the mortality rate for elderly that are transferred is 2-4 times higher than those that are not subjected to this type of stress. [1] All too often this known adverse effect is not taken into consideration when senior citizens are taken into custody for an involuntary psychiatric examination.

The mental health law in Florida, commonly referred to as the Baker Act, allows for the involuntary examination of all individuals and this includes the elderly. Under the Baker Act, a senior citizen can be sent against their will, and without consulting the family or guardian, for an examination and the receiving facility is then legally allowed to hold the senior for up to 72 hours. According to the Annual Report on the Baker Act, released in 2019, there were 205,781 involuntary examinations in 2018 — more than doubling over the past 17 years — with over 7 percent of the initiations on persons 65 years of age or older. [2]

These alarming statistics are indicative of abuse according to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health industry watchdog that works to ensure patient and consumer protections are enacted and upheld.

“Our organization has received hundreds of calls involving the Baker Acting of an elderly person and in the vast majority of cases the senior did not meet the criteria for involuntary examination but instead was suffering from an untreated medical condition,” said Diane Stein, President of the Florida chapter of CCHR.

Over 15,000 of Florida’s elderly were sent for involuntary psychiatric examinations in 2018, forcing the stress of physical transport to Baker Act facilities on these seniors. It is well documented that transferring an elderly person puts them at risk for depression, anxiety, and similar behavior disturbances, which may then result in the senior being treated with unnecessary psychotropic drugs which come with many side effects. [3]

Furthermore, senior citizens who find themselves admitted for psychiatric evaluation are sometimes later informed that the criteria for Baker Acting was never met, that there was no evidence of mental illness, and instead it was found by clinical staff the senior simply needed rest, proper nutrition, or an adjustment to baseline medication. [4] [5]

Additionally, the concurrent use of multiple medications, known as polypharmacy, has doubled in the past decade among retirement-age Americans despite warnings from geriatric medical organizations. In fact, the number of office visits resulting in multiple pharmaceutical prescription has risen from 1.5 million in 2004 to 3.68 million in 2013 — more than a 50% increase — with rural areas showing the highest surge. Those diagnosed with dementia are even more susceptible to polypharmacy and specifically psychotropic drugging. According to the Office of the Inspector General, 304,983 elderly nursing home residents in the U.S. were given dangerous and often deadly antipsychotic drugs, 88% of which were prescribed off-label for dementia. [6] [7]

“Many retirement-age Americans are taking multiple psychiatric drugs and are unaware of the dangerous side effects or the fact that the drug is being used off-label,” said Stein.

For more information on the protection of elder rights under the mental health law, please call 727-442-8820 or visit www.cchrflorida.org.

About CCHR: Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHR’s mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, first brought psychiatric imprisonment to wide public notice: “Thousands and thousands are seized without process of law, every week, over the ‘free world’ tortured, castrated, killed. All in the name of ‘mental health,’” he wrote in March 1969. For more information visit www.cchrflorida.org.

Sources:
[1] http://flash.lakeheadu.ca/~mstones/transfertrauma.htm
[2] https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/baker-act/documents/ba_usf_annual_report_2017_2018.pdf
[3] https://hernandosun.com/Baker_Act_A_Dementia_Dilemma_7_29_16
[4]http://www.heu.org/sites/default/files/uploads/research_reports/HEU_Literature_Review_Sept23_2002.pdf
[5] https://www.crisisprevention.com/Blog/November-2010/A-Real-Issue-for-Many-Individuals-With-Dementia
[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/health/psychiatric-drugs-prescriptions.html?_r=1
[7] https://www.cchrint.org/issues/protectelderly/

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The mental health law currently allows for individuals of all ages, including children, to be taken into custody and sent for an involuntary psychiatric examination.
18 Dec
0

CCHR Kicks Off 2020 Campaign with an Open House to Raise Awareness on Abuse of Mental Health Laws

The mental health law currently allows for individuals of all ages, including children, to be taken into custody and sent for an involuntary psychiatric examination.

The mental health law currently allows for individuals of all ages, including children, to be taken into custody and sent for an involuntary psychiatric examination.

The Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit watchdog organization that exposes and eradicates abuses in the mental health industry, will be hosting a series of Open House events starting January 4th 2020 to kick off its 2020 campaign aimed at reaching more than the 7,500 it did in 2019. Throughout the next year, experts such as Carmen Miller Esq, a former public defender and staunch human rights advocate and registered pharmacist Pamela Seefeld, PhD will speak on subjects such as how to protect patient’s rights and natural alternatives being used in mental health. The first Open House will be held at the group’s Florida headquarters in downtown Clearwater, 109 N. Fort Harrison from 10am to 10pm Sunday and 1pm to 10pm on Saturday.

CCHR Florida’s more than 100 events in 2019 have included medical and legal professionals sharing case studies, resources and providing assistance to individuals seeking help. These events have placed over 60,000 materials on mental health into the hands of Floridians.

Ms. Carmen Miller, Esq. speaks on issues such as the abusive use of the Baker Act (Florida’s mental health law) with preventative actions citizens can take to safeguard themselves and their families. The Baker Act which was originally created to protect the rights of individuals sent for involuntary psychiatric examination is being abused. This law currently allows for individuals of all ages, including children, to be taken into custody and sent for an involuntary psychiatric examination. With over 200,000 Baker Acts reported in 2018, CCHR says this law no longer protects rights but instead is a serious human rights abuse. [1]

The number of people being “Baker Acted,” as the act of involuntary examination is commonly called, has risen 115% between 2002 and 2018, according to official reports and the number of children being taken into custody topped 36,000 an almost 19% increase from 2014 to 2018. [2]

Unfortunately, the steady increase of Baker Acts is not new and neither is the abusive use of involuntary psychiatric examinations. As reported by local media, Baker Act abuse, especially of children, is a growing problem which is why CCHR Florida launched a statewide campaign in 2015 to educate families on their rights and to demand that lawmakers take action. [3]

While mental health advocates are calling for more mental health funding as a solution, a recent investigative series in a major Florida newspaper points to a bigger problem – the Baker Acting of people for profit. [4]

“It is no secret that psychiatric facilities are manipulating the Baker Act for profit,” stated Diane Stein, President of CCHR Florida. “Increasing mental health funding in Florida will only serve those profiting off of the misery of those in crisis.”

Involuntary psychiatric examination and commitment is just one area of abuse according to CCHR. Another is the massive use of dangerous psychiatric drugs which come with black box warnings of suicide and suicidal ideation. [5]

More than 8.5 million U.S. children take psychotropic medications with documented harmful health effects, according to data from the IMS Health Vector One National Database Year 2013 [6]. This includes 274,000 infants, 370,000 toddlers, and even 1,400 infants prescribed anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and ADHD drugs, according to 2013 data from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics [7].

For more information on upcoming events or to obtain educational materials, please call CCHR at 727-442-8820.

Sources:
[1] Baker Act Reporting Center
https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/baker-act/documents/ba_usf_annual_report_2017_2018.pdf
[2] Ibid.
[3] Baker Act Reporting Center via WPTV press release
https://www.wptv.com/longform/children-in-crisis-floridas-baker-acted-kids
[4] You’re trapped. They’re cashing in. https://projects.tampabay.com/projects/2019/investigations/north-tampa-behavioral-health/
[5] Revisions to Product Labeling – FDA https://www.fda.gov/media/77404/download
[6] Number of Children & Adolescents Taking Psychiatric Drugs in the U.S.

Number of Children & Adolescents Taking Psychiatric Drugs in the U.S.


[7] Why Are So Many Toddlers Taking Psychiatric Drugs?
https://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2015/02/19/why-are-so-many-toddlers-taking-psychiatric-drugs/

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Millions of children are given psychiatric labels for normal childhood behavior and prescribed psychiatric drugs that drive them to commit violent acts and suicide.
12 Dec
2

Surge in Children on Dangerous Psychiatric Drugs Not Just a U.S. Problem

Millions of children are given psychiatric labels for normal childhood behavior and prescribed psychiatric drugs that drive them to commit violent acts and suicide.

Millions of children are given psychiatric labels for normal childhood behavior and prescribed psychiatric drugs that drive them to commit violent acts and suicide.

Today in the United States approximately 7.2 million children between the ages of 0 to 17 are using prescription psychiatric drugs, and almost half of them are on drugs due to being labeled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This epidemic of drugging children is not just occurring in the U.S. A recent report revealed that there has been a 500% increase in the number of children prescribed psychiatric drugs over the past decade in Ireland. [1]

The psychostimulant, methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin, is one of the drugs prescribed to children who have been labeled as ADHD and comes with such side effects as nervousness, agitation, anxiety as well as psychosis. [2] Methylphenidate is a Schedule II drug, which means the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies it as having a high potential for abuse. At the same time, the DEA warns that methylphenidate produces many of the same effects as cocaine and that psychotic episodes and severe psychological addiction have all been associated with methylphenidate use. [3]

One Dayton, Ohio father recounted how his son had complained of having “dark thoughts” while on drugs for what was labeled as attention deficit hyperactivity. This same father buried his son in 2018 after the teen committed suicide within 3 weeks of having been prescribed an antidepressant with a black box warning. The father states that the “black box warning was never brought up” and “neither was the fact that the drug prescribed is not FDA-approved for patients younger than 25 and therefore was off-label.” [4]

Outraged at the significant number of children prescribed psychiatric drugs, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit mental health watchdog dedicated to the protection of children, is calling upon lawmakers to take action and hold the psychiatrists prescribing these deadly drugs accountable.

“Parents are not being told the dangers associated with these drugs,” said Diane Stein, President CCHR Florida. “True informed consent is not being done and the psychiatrists doling out these drugs need to be held accountable when they violate the law.”

As part of a campaign to educate parents on their rights, CCHR hosts regular seminars and workshops on the mental health law, parental rights and the dangerous side effects of psychiatric drugs. To learn more or to reserve seats at the next seminar please call 727-442-8820.

Sources:
[1] https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/nearly-500-increase-in-number-of-children-prescribed-psychiatric-medication-965376.html
[2] https://www.rxlist.com/ritalin-side-effects-drug-center.htm
[3] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cchr-alerts-parents-about-new-federal-statistics-showing-rates-of-youth-overdose-deaths-on-adhd-stimulants-and-benzodiazepines-are-greater-than-on-cocaine-300507566.html
[4] https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/local/teens-and-antidepressants-what-parents-need-know-about-suicide-warnings/R0m9XBOp5rXsRG1wUBWUcP/

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Nearly two-thirds of the newspaper stories linking the holidays and suicide over the 2016-17 holiday season supported a false connection between the two, the Annenberg Public Policy Center has found.
12 Dec
0

Debunking the Myths Surrounding Suicide Assessments and Suicide Rates

Nearly two-thirds of the newspaper stories linking the holidays and suicide over the 2016-17 holiday season supported a false connection between the two, the Annenberg Public Policy Center has found.

Nearly two-thirds of the newspaper stories linking the holidays and suicide over the 2016-17 holiday season supported a false connection between the two, the Annenberg Public Policy Center has found.

 

Each year an average of 44,965 people commit suicide in the United States making it the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide deaths were more than double those due to homicides in 2015, which means that for every murder reported in the news, there were at least 2 other deaths that occurred due to suicide. [1] [2] [3]

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) of Florida, a non-profit watchdog that exposes human rights violations in the mental health industry, is holding an open house this month at their center located at 109 N. Fort Harrison Avenue in downtown Clearwater to raise awareness on the subject.

While many people believe that suicide rates are highest during holidays or the winter months, this is a myth according to the CDC with December actually having the lowest rate. [4] This myth is perpetuated by media stories falsely linking holidays and suicides. [5]

Another myth is that risk assessments can help prevent suicides.

An article published under Mental Health in Scientific American in March of 2017, reported that new research of the past 40 years of suicide risk assessment research suggests that not only do these assessments not help but may actually cause harm by increasing the risk of suicide. [6] [7]

According to the article, “there has been no improvement in the accuracy of suicide risk assessments over the past 40 years” and “no statistical way of identifying individuals with a high risk of suicide exists.”

Using these ineffective suicide risk assessments, individuals are labeled with depression or suicidal ideation and then in many cases receive prescriptions for dangerous psychotropic drugs which come with known side effects that encourage the exact symptoms they are marketed to treat, suicide and suicidal ideation. One common antidepressant, Celexa, is linked to a staggering 559 cases of documented suicide. [8]

In response, CCHR Florida launched a campaign to educate individuals on the connection between the use of antidepressants, the reliance on suicide risk assessments and death by suicide. As part of this campaign CCHR is hosting an open house where visitors will be able to obtain information on how suicide risk assessments may increase the risk of suicide and psychiatric drug side effects.

“With 1 in 6 Americans currently taking psychotropic drugs it is vital for people to know the truth about suicide risk assessments and psychiatric drug side effects,” said Diane Stein, president of the Florida chapter of CCHR. [7]

For more information on the open house or the truth about psychiatric drugs please call 727-442-8820.

Sources:
[1] https://save.org/about-suicide/suicide-facts/
[2] https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/
[3] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml
[4] https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/holiday.html
[5] https://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/suicide-rate-is-lower-during-holidays-but-holiday-suicide-myth-persists/
[6] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/suicide-risk-assessment-doesnt-work/
[7] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0156322
[8] https://www.cchrint.org/psychiatric-drugs/antidepressantsideeffects/celexasideeffects/
[9] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/1-in-6-americans-takes-a-psychiatric-drug/

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06 Dec
0

Shooter killed, at least 11 hurt at Pensacola Navy base

Authorities say an active shooter is dead after opening fire on multiple people Friday at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, and at least 11 people were hospitalized.

Military Acts of Violence Linked to Psychiatric Drugs

  • Marine Lance Corporal Delano Holmes (22), New Year’s Eve, 2006: He was working with Iraqi soldier, Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin in Fallujah, Iraq, when they fought over Hassin lighting a cigarette that Holmes was terrified would alert assassins. He used his bayonet to stab Hassin to death. Holmes had been prescribed trazodone (antidepressant), Ambien and Valium (the latter both anti-anxiety drugs, also known as benzodiazepines). In 2007, he was convicted of negligent homicide.
  • PFC. David Lawrence (20), October 17, 2010: Shot and killed Iraqi senior Taliban commander, Mullah Mohebullah, while guarding him. Lawrence was prescribed Zoloft and trazadone, two antidepressants that the FDA warns could make an individual 24 years old or younger more depressed and/or suicidal.
  • Eddie Ray Routh (28), February 2, 2013: Shot and killed Chris Kyle, the former Navy Military SEAL who was the subject of the movie, American Sniper, and Kyle’s friend, Chad Littlefield, at a firing range. In February 2015, the former U.S. Marine was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole for the killings. In late July 2011, a little more than a year after he had received an honorable discharge from the military, Routh, then aged 24, had been diagnosed with PTSD at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center and prescribed risperidone, an antipsychotic and generic of Risperdal, as well as the antidepressant, Zoloft, which is not recommended for anyone aged younger than 25 because of the risk that it may cause suicide. Routh’s father would later report that the cocktail of pharmaceuticals “made Eddie worse,” adding, “I ain’t no doctor. I ain’t no rocket scientist or nothing, but I could tell a difference in him.” He had various hospitalizations over the next few years, and was said to be “paranoid and impulsively violent” and was prescribed a cocktail of psychotropic drugs that included two powerful antipsychotics, Haldol and Seroquel and the antidepressant Paxil. He was also mixing prescription drugs known to cause aggressive and psychotic behavior with alcohol and marijuana.
  • Aaron Alexis (34), Washington DC Navy Yard shooter, September 16, 2013: Alexis, a former navy reservist, had been prescribed the antidepressant trazodone when he killed 12 people and wounded eight, before being killed by police.
  • Ivan Lopez (34), Fort Hood gunman, April 2, 2014: Iraqi War veteran, Ivan Lopez had been prescribed Ambien, a sleep agent, and psychiatric drugs for depression and anxiety when he shot dead three colleagues and injured 16 others before killing himself at the Fort Hood military base.
  • Bradley Stone (35), Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, December 15, 2014: Iraq War veteran and a former U.S. Marine Corps reservist, killed his ex-wife and her mother, grandmother and sister, and the sister’s husband and 14-year-old daughter, then committed suicide. According to the Medical Examiner, he had both the antidepressant trazodone and the antipsychotic risperidone in his system at the time of his death. He’d also taken meta-Chlorophenylpiperazine, or mCPP, which is sometimes sold on the street as a substitute for ecstasy. Just one week prior to the murders, he had seen his Veterans Affairs psychiatrist, who cleared Stone as having no suicidal or homicidal ideation.
  • Former U.S. Marine Gavin Long, 29, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 17, 2016: Long went on a shooting rampage, killing three law enforcement officers and wounding three others before being shot dead by a SWAT team officer. Long had filled a prescription for sedative hypnotic Ativan as recently as June, and also had prescriptions for Valium and the sedative Lunesta.

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This year’s recipient of the prestigious CCHR Humanitarian Award was Orlando attorney Ms. Kendra Parris for her work to protect the rights of Floridians under the Baker Act.
20 Nov
0

CCHR Humanitarian Award Presented to Attorney Dedicated to Restoring Human Rights

This year’s recipient of the prestigious CCHR Humanitarian Award was Orlando attorney Ms. Kendra Parris for her work to protect the rights of Floridians under the Baker Act.

This year’s recipient of the prestigious CCHR Humanitarian Award was Orlando attorney Ms. Kendra Parris for her work to protect the rights of Floridians under the Baker Act.

Attended by hundreds of guests, the 4th Annual Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) Humanitarian Awards Banquet once again honored the many dedicated volunteers and supporters of CCHR for their work help restore rights and dignity to the field of mental health.

The 2019 CCHR Hall of Fame Award, was presented to Dr. Freddie Ulan. One of the original founding members of CCHR, Dr, Ulan began his fight for human rights in 1969 and helped to establish CCHR chapters across the world including the Florida chapter.

Known for her no nonsense attitude when it comes to the letter of the law, this year’s recipient of the prestigious CCHR Humanitarian Award was Orlando attorney Ms. Kendra Parris for her work to protect the rights of Floridians under the Baker Act. Having helped secure the safe release of more than 50 men, women and children who were being held unjustly in psychiatric facilities under the mental health law called the Baker Act, Ms. Parris dedicated to stopping psychiatric abuse.

In accepting the award, Kendra said, “We have an unconscionable problem in Florida. It is the routine and cavalier way in which individuals are being subjected to baseless, inhumane psychiatric examinations. There is a profit motive built into this scheme, which leads to systemic violations of patients’ rights; forced and unwarranted drugging; manipulation of statutory legal protections for the financial gain of the facilities; and often outright fraud.”

Citing the abusive use of the mental health law, Parris vowed to continue working with CCHR to help create effective legislative changes that hold psychiatrists and facilities accountable for rights violations.

Originally intended to protect patient rights, the Baker Act has now become a source of human rights abuse with involuntary psychiatric examinations more than doubling in the past 16 years. According to the Baker Act Reporting Center, 36,078 Baker Acts were initiated during 2017-2018 which equates to one Baker Act every 15 minutes. Even more disturbing is that the mental health law allows for a child to be Baker Acted without parental knowledge. [1]

Launching a campaign to put an end to this violation of rights in 2016, the Florida chapter of CCHR, a non-profit mental health watchdog dedicated to the protection of children, has educated almost 220,000 families on their rights under the law in addition to calling upon Florida lawmakers to eliminate the unjust Baker Acting of children.

“We must restore and secure basic freedoms and rights, especially and most importantly, for our next generation… our leaders of tomorrow… mankind’s future,” said Diane Stein, President CCHR Florida. “It should not be legal for a child to be taken into custody and sent for involuntary psychiatric examination without parental knowledge when the child does not meet the criteria for a Baker Act.”

For more information on CCHR’s campaign to eliminate inappropriate Baker Acting of children please visit 5 Simple Steps to Help Protect Your Child, or contact CCHR at 727-442-8820.

Source:
[1] Baker Act Annual Report, release in June 2018, Baker Act Reporting Center
Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute Department of Mental Health Law & Policy https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/baker-act/documents/ba_usf_annual_report_2017_2018.pdf

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20 Nov
0

Justin Drach: Florida-based Attorney Fighting Widespread Abuses in the Psychiatric Industry

Nearly 150 CCHR supporters gathered for the Premiere Party of the Voices for Humanity Episode on Justin Drach at the Fort Harrison Grand Auditorium.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people are taken into custody for involuntary psychiatric examination across the state of Florida. Called a Baker Act, the rampant abuse of rights under this law contributes to tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent billing. In a new documentary in “The Voices for Humanity” series on the Scientology TV network, attorney Justin Drach takes on the widespread illegal involuntary examination of men, women and children in Florida. Working directly with the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), Justin Drach, a former Navy pilot, flies all over Florida seeking the safe release of countless individuals being held unjustly under the Baker Act.

“Today, in Florida, one of the greatest evils is fraudulent Baker Acts,” Drach states. “I make no bones about it, there is an epidemic of greed and abuse in medicine, especially the treatment of mental illness.”

Drach spent 10 years as a Naval aviator, including a tour of duty in Iraq. After military service, he earned his law degree and along with Amanda Thoele quickly established a prominent practice in Florida. His expertise—battling involuntary examination and potential involuntary commitment carried out by the psychiatric industry under the state’s infamous Baker Act. A strategic alliance with CCHR, a watchdog organization that exposes abuse in the mental health industry, has thrust Justin to the forefront of a movement fighting Baker Act violations. Through the specialized Baker Act Defense Attorney Symposium and Summit, known by the acronym BADASS, Drach helps to educate other attorneys in the art of securing freedom for Baker Act victims.

In support of Mr. Drach’s work, CCHR hosted an event on Wednesday 13 November at the historic Fort Harrison for the premiere of the documentary, “Wings of Justice” where the audience was appalled to learn of the horrific abuses perpetrated under the Baker Act and inspired to take action to help restore human rights.

According to Diane Stein, President of CCHR Florida, Florida is a target-rich environment for psychiatrists and corporations that are looking to squeeze profits from filled beds.

“Florida’s mental health act is weak and due process is virtually non-existent, said Stein. “Patients are bullied into submitting to ‘voluntary’ treatment all to avoid the bare minimum scrutiny of courts making people like Mr. Drach invaluable in the fight to end mental health human rights abuse in Florida.”

Ms. Stein, who is also featured on the Voices for Humanity series for her work in exposing unjust involuntary psychiatric examination of children and other mental health human rights abuses, encourages the friends and family of anyone who has suffered abuse in the mental health industry to submit a report at CCHR.

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19 Nov
1

Surge in Child Baker Acts Prompts Watchdog to Call for Greater Protection of Children

The mental health law in Florida, commonly called a Baker Act, allows for a person of any age to be taken into custody and transported to a psychiatric facility for examination. During 2018 there were over 200,000 Baker Acts with more than 36,000 of them initiated on children. Some of these children are very young, including those between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. [1]

According to the Baker Act Reporting Center, involuntary examinations more than doubled in the past 17 years prompting the Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to call for amendments to existing state law to protect children from abuse. CCHR is concerned over the large number of individuals being sent annually for involuntary psychiatric examinations in light of the fact that it is known that a percentage of these Baker Acts are illegal due to a failure to meet the criteria for taking a person into custody.

In order to take a person into custody under a Baker Act there are three criteria that must be legally met yet it is common knowledge that this is not always done and it was disclosed during a meeting of the Baker Act Task Force in 2017 that 30 percent of the Baker Acts initiated on children in Pinellas County did not meet the criteria. This alarming fact is one reason CCHR believes the Baker Act needs to be reformed so that parents and guardians are brought into the process before a child is put through the trauma of a Baker Act in an effort to reduce illegal Baker Acting of minors. [2]

In the example of minors, parents and legal guardians are being left out of the process only finding out that their child has been Baker Acted after initiation and usually after the child has been transported by law enforcement to a psychiatric facility. CCHR believes that this is a rights violation, a belief that is shared by Sheriffs, Police Chiefs and even School Districts across Florida.

“The involuntary psychiatric examination of children is a gross violation of human and parental rights,” stated Diane Stein, President CCHR Florida.

Over the past several years, CCHR has worked to educate those granted the power to initiate a Baker Act on a child on why a parent or guardian should be brought into the process before initiation resulting in county and city level policy changes that requires parents to be contacted prior to initiating a Baker Act.

However, greater protection of children is needed according to CCHR who is calling for lawmakers to change how the mental health law is applied to children and teens to help prevent unjust involuntary psychiatric examinations.

Those interested in learning more about CCHR’s campaign to protect children from abusive Baker Acting are encouraged to call 800-782-2878.

Sources:
[1] Baker Act Reporting Center https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/baker-act/documents/ba_usf_annual_report_2017_2018.pdf
[2] CHILDREN’S BAKER ACT TASK FORCE, MINUTES for FIRST MEETING 7.20.17 http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/samh/mentalhealth/task-force-examination-minors/docs/20170720/20170720-minutes.pdf

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