The controversial Victorian Mental Health Act is expected to go before Parliament this week with the torturous use of electroshock now set to remain legal for children of all ages. The previous proposal to ban ECT in children under 13 appears to have been scrapped.
In contrast, after a public uproar last year, the WA Parliament raised the ban on ECT on children from 12 to 14 years. Electroshock is the application of hundreds of volts of electricity to the head to create a seizure, can cause brain damage, memory loss and sometimes death, something no parent would want for their child.
A 2010 study by John Red and Richard Bentall looking at the literature and studies regarding the effectiveness of electroshock concluded, “ECT does not prevent suicide” and since 2004, “there have been no new findings that ECT is effective, but significant findings confirming brain damage in the form of memory dysfunction, is common, persistent and significant, and that it is related to the ECT rather than the depression.”
While Mental Health Tribunal will have to give approval for electroshock on involuntarily detained patients, giving ECT without the patient’s consent is completely out of step with the 2013 report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Special Rapporteur Juan E Mendez said, “States should impose an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against persons with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind altering drugs, for both long and short term application.”
In 2009/10 there were 48 electroshocks given to Victorian children aged 11-15.
“There is no doubt that children can be very troubled. It is how they are helped that is the issue. The cause of the problem for each child needs to be located and the child helped with the cause. It is a well-known fact that an underlying medical condition can manifest as ‘psychiatric symptoms.’ Instead of this occurring, psychiatry resorts to torture,” said Ms Wilkins the Executive Director of the Citizens Committee on Human Rights (CCHR).
CCHR was co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Dr Thomas Szasz to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights.
Contact: Shelley Wilkins 02 99649844