Citizens Commission on Human Rights

The Mental Health Watchdog

Australian National Office

CCHR’s Accomplishments

CCHR’s Mission: Restore Human Rights to the Field of Mental Health

CCHR human rights logo.The following is a brief summary of some of CCHR’s accomplishments from around the world including Australia.

Protecting Children’s Rights

Small girl with blonde, curly hair smiling.CCHR documented numerous cases of parents being coerced/pressured or forced to give their children psychiatric drugs as a condition of attending school, including parents charged with medical neglect for refusing to give their child a drug documented to cause suicide and violence.  CCHR spearheaded a national campaign in the US on this issue and by working directly with parents, and bringing this issue before both state and federal legislators, the Prohibition on Mandatory Medication Amendment was passed into US federal law in 2004, prohibiting schools from requiring a child take a psychiatric drug as a requisite for attending school. CCHR’s work with state legislators lead to the passage of similar laws in 9 US states.

  • The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child responded to reports from CCHR Finland, Australia and Denmark, expressing concerns that ADHD and ADD “are being misdiagnosed and therefore psycho-stimulant drugs are being over-prescribed, despite growing evidence of the harmful effects of these drugs.” The Committee recommended, “other forms of management and treatment be used as much as possible to address these behavioural disorders.”
  • In 2006, the CCHR Australian National office obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act which showed almost 400 adverse drug reactions had been reported for the ADHD drugs Ritalin and dexamphetamine. Adverse effects included the drugs being linked to suicide attempts, a 5 year old had a stroke and a 7 year old suddenly died. With the public release of these documents the Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health the next day asked Australia’s drug regulatory agency to investigate these 2 drugs. As a result of the investigation the existing warnings in the product information relating to cardiovascular and psychiatric events were strengthened.
  • In Western Australia CCHR lodged a petition with over 7,000 signatures into Parliament asking for the government to take action due to the unacceptably high rate of children prescribed drugs for “ADHD.” Western Australia had one of the highest rates of ADHD drug use in the world. As a result of the dedicated actions of Members of Parliament, members of the community and CCHR, a Parliamentary Inquiry into ADHD was held. This finished in October 2004. Subsequently the numbers of prescriptions for ADHD drugs for children went into a decline.
  • In 1991, due to CCHR’s efforts, the FDA held hearings into the antidepressant drug Prozac, where dozens of consumers testified that the drug had turned people with no previous history of psychosis, suicidal and homicidal.   However, due to the vested interests of the voting FDA board members, no action was taken to protect the public until nearly 13 years later when CCHR’s more than 10 year campaign to expose the dangers of these drugs came to fruition, and the FDA (under pressure from Congress) finally issued the agencies strongest warning that antidepressants can cause suicidal thoughts and actions in those 18 years of age and younger.  This was later extended to age 24.
  • In 2007, working with whistleblowers, parents and consumer groups, CCHR was instrumental in helping to secure language in the FDA reform bill making it mandatory for all pharmaceutical print ads to advise patients to report drug adverse reactions directly to the FDA.  Following the first ads being published, the number of Adverse Drug Reports increased by 33 percent in the US.
  • Creating the online Psychiatric Drug Side Effects Search Engine — Because the public has been so mislead by the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry on the dangers of psychiatric drugs, CCHR has created a one-of-a-kind, easy to search psychiatric drugs side effects database, containing summaries of all international studies and drug regulatory warnings that have been issued on various classes of drugs (antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs, stimulants, etc.) and brand names such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Risperdal, Seroquel, Ritalin etc. CCHR also decrypted hundreds of thousands of adverse reaction reports filed with the FDA so that these could be easily searched by the public. The search engine is now provided by CCHR as a free public service to help people make educated decisions based on facts, not marketing campaigns.  CCHR is the only organisation in the world to have taken the time and effort needed to compile all this documented information for the public’s use.
  • Working with journalists, CCHR helped investigate and subsequently expose the fact that numerous school shooters had been under the influence of psychiatric drugs documented to cause violence, suicide and mania, resulting in state hearings investigating this issue and national press coverage on the link between senseless acts of violence and psychiatric drugs.

Legal Rights & Informed Consent

Judges wooden gavel with a brass band lying on a law book.

  • The Texas Governor, along with CCHR Texas representatives, signed a law prohibiting ECT on children under 16. In 1976, due to CCHR’s efforts, the first law to protect patients against enforced electroshock and psychosurgery was passed in California, providing informed consent and banning their use on children under the age of 12.  This became a model law, adopted in substance by legislatures across the United States and in other countries. The most restrictive law to date is Texas that raised the age limit for ECT to 16 years, and where psychiatrists must warn patients in writing of the potential for ECT to cause death and/or permanent memory loss. Psychiatrists must also ensure autopsy reports on any deaths within 14 days of ECT administration.
  • In 2015 the first ever ban for electroshock in Australia’s history was obtained in Western Australia (WA). This was the result of 11 years of work by CCHR, members of parliament and the public to improve the WA Mental Health Act. CCHR’s work included the placement of half page ads in the main WA newspaper and local newspapers and tens of thousands of letters mailed to inform the public who then took action to protect children. Also obtained at the same time was a ban on psychosurgery for children under 16, the complete removal of sterilisation from the WA Mental Health Act and the increase in the cost of criminal fines for performing electroshock outside the law and for ill treatment of patients.
  • Between mid-2013 and early 2016, CCHR Australia campaigned to improve the Queensland Mental Health Act (Australia) including campaigning to get psychosurgery banned. A ban for all ages for the forms of psychosurgery involving cutting and burning the brain was passed by Queensland parliament in early 2016. Criminal fines for electroshock and ill treatment of patients were also increased.
  • In Italy, the birthplace of ECT, the Piemonte region Parliament responded to CCHR’s evidence by unanimously voting to ban the use of ECT on children, the elderly and pregnant women.
  • In the 1990s, CCHR helped uncover and expose that up to 150 restraint deaths occur in psychiatric facilities each year in the U.S. alone, with nearly 10% of these being children, some as young as six.  Federal regulations were passed in 1999 that prohibit the use of physical and chemical (mind-altering drugs) restraints to coerce or discipline patients.  Also, a “national reporting system” to be implemented and for government funding to be cut to any facility that did not comply.
  • In the 1980s/early 1990s, CCHR spearheaded a campaign to expose and ban deep sleep treatment (DST) at Chelmsford Private Psychiatric Hospital in Sydney, Australia. The “treatment” involved knocking the patient unconscious for two to three weeks with a cocktail of psychiatric drugs and electroshocking them sometimes twice daily, often without their consent or knowledge.  It killed 48 people.  CCHR achieved its ban under the Mental Health Act and it is a criminal offence for psychiatrists to administer it in several states of Australia.  CCHR also obtained the country’s highest level of government inquiry into DST and mental health, leading to significant reforms.

Exposing Criminal Psychiatric Abuse

Scales of justice.

CCHR has campaigned for uncompromising execution of justice for mental health practitioners who rape or sexually abuse their patients, but hide behind their roles as therapists to mitigate their crimes. In protecting patients from sexual abuse and fraud the following are a sample of safeguards achieved.

  • At least 25 statutes have been enacted defining sex crimes committed by psychiatrists and psychologists in the United States, Australia, Germany, Sweden and Israel.  The laws label therapist patient sex as sexual assault or rape.  Hundreds of psychiatrists and psychologists have been convicted and jailed.
  • CCHR’s investigations led to a major private psychiatric hospital chain in the U.S. being investigated by 14 federal and state investigations for fraud and patient abuse. Before closing, the hospital chain paid out millions of dollars in criminal and civil fines.  Laws were subsequently passed outlawing the practice of using “bounty hunters” for locating individuals with good insurance in order to involuntarily institutionalise them in psychiatric facilities and milk their insurance dry.
  • Numerous other private-for-profit psychiatric hospitals were subsequently investigated.  By 2003, state and federal authorities had 80 percent of the US private psychiatric hospital market under criminal investigation, which resulted in $2.1 billion in criminal and civil fines.

Human Rights Secured

Group of people raising arms against view of blue sky.

  • CCHR photographed and then exposed secret psychiatric “slave labor” camps in South Africa where tens of thousands of Africans were incarcerated in the1970s and 80s against their will in disused mining compounds, drugged and subjected to painful electroshock without anaesthetics.  The apartheid government responded in 1976 by banning the photographing or dissemination of any information about psychiatric institutions, at which point CCHR obtained a World Health Organisation investigation that substantiated CCHR’s allegations. When apartheid ended, CCHR presented oral and written testimony to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigating apartheid crimes and obtained a national government inquiry into psychiatric racism.  The government repealed the ban on disclosing information about psychiatric abuse.
  • CCHR in Germany conducted comprehensive research that established conclusively that Germany’s leading psychiatrists provided the theory as well as the “scientific” justification for the Nazi government to destroy “life unworthy of living.” Euthanasia was first piloted in psychiatric institutions before being exported to the concentration camps.  Many Nazi psychiatrists escaped justice at the Nuremberg Trials and continued practicing after the war. In 1995 CCHR published the acclaimed book Psychiatrists: The Men Behind Hitler. Four years later, the German psychiatric association issued a report admitting that psychiatrists were “active in and primarily responsible for the different euthanasia organisations.  They guided and directed the different euthanasia campaigns.” They “observed and controlled the selection of those to be killed.”
  • CCHR extensively researched ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, reporting its findings to the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague and the Council of Europe.  It discovered that psychiatric ideas of racial hygiene and eugenics were behind the conflict, in particular the works of Jovan Raskovic, founder of the Social Democratic Party and Radovan Karadzic, war-time leader—both psychiatrists. In 1999, members of the Council of Europe issued a Resolution that recognised psychiatrists as the architects of the ethnic cleansing and encouraged Council members to “study the material that has been put together and researched by the French chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.”  When Karadzic was captured in 2008, it was widely reported that Karadzik’s ethnic cleansing stemmed from his psychiatric background.
  • Along with officials and members of the Italian parliament, CCHR Italy inspected and investigated concentration-camp-like conditions in the country’s psychiatric asylums. Staff had pocketed government funds while patients were left naked and starving.  The government responded to the evidence, issuing a Resolution that ordered the closure of the 97 asylums. The abused and neglected inmates transferred to humane homes, many taught to read, write and care for themselves for the first time in 30 years. CCHR was presented with a mayoral medal for its humanitarian efforts.

Public Awareness Educational Materials

As a watchdog organisation, CCHR produces millions of educational properties including booklets, brochures and documentaries in up to 17 languages covering all aspects of psychiatry’s harmful impact on society and the need for reform to protect patients civil and human rights and to require informed consent.  In addition to its feature-length documentaries, CCHR also produces short educational videos featured on its YouTube channels. Working with doctors, whistleblowers, parents, consumers and other civil and human rights organisations, CCHR has been able to provide government officials with documentation necessary to expose abuses in the field of mental health and help achieve legislative reforms that protect consumer & patient rights.