Recently the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued an annual report pointing out that there is an overreliance on mental health drugs, which are a “significant obstacle to the realization of the right to health.” In light of this and because more than six million American children are prescribed psychotropic drugs, the mental health watchdog, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International renewed its pledge to safeguard children and teens from forced mental health treatment. It is expanding its efforts to educate parents on their rights to decide their children’s healthcare needs, without coercion.
The UN Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, recommended that the focus of mental health systems and services should be widened beyond the biomedical model to include a holistic approach that considers all aspect of a person’s life. This marks at least ten reports from international agencies such as the UN committees against torture and for human and children’s rights, and the World Health Organization that have condemned coercive psychiatric practices. These include:
— 2013: The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 15: “A holistic approach to health places the realization of children’s right to health within the broader framework of international human rights obligations…. The Committee cautions against over-medicalization and institutionalization.”
— 2014: The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities reinforced “the right to be free from involuntary detention in a mental health facility and not to be forced to undergo mental health treatment….”
— 2016: UN Human Rights Council Resolution: “[P]ersons with mental health conditions or psychosocial disabilities” may be subject to “unlawful or arbitrary institutionalization, overmedicalization and treatment practices that fail to respect their autonomy, will and preferences.”
— 2017: UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health: “There is now unequivocal evidence of the failures of a system that relies too heavily on the biomedical model of mental health services, including the front-line and excessive use of psychotropic medicines….”
— 2021: WHO Guidelines on mental health in the community: “A fundamental shift within the mental health field is required, in order to end this current situation.” Countries must ensure that “the right to refuse admission and treatment is also respected.”
The agencies have called for legal provisions and policies permitting the use of coercion and forced interventions to be repealed, as they constitute torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Jan Eastgate, president of CCHR International said, “In the case of children and adolescents, they have no rights to consent and, as such, parents need to be much better informed of the risks of biological-based mental or behavioral ‘treatments’ recommended.”
CCHR’s Fight for Kids website is specifically for parents with a “Know Your Rights” section and other information, such as:
— The psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs being prescribed to children carry more than 409 international drug regulatory warnings.
— Drugs to treat “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” and anxiety, for example, are documented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cause “drug dependence” and can rival the withdrawal effects of hardcore street drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
— If a child becomes aggressive or violent, it could be the prescribed psychiatric drug. Twenty-seven international drug regulatory agency warnings cite psychiatric drug side effects of mania, psychosis, violence and homicidal ideation.
— FDA warns that antidepressants can induce suicidal behavior in anyone younger than 24 and may also cause hostility, aggression, psychosis and violence.
— An international psychopharmacology expert estimated that 90% of school shootings in the decade leading up to 2012 were perpetrated by those taking antidepressants.
— Electroshock given children, as un-consenting individuals, is a form of torture and should be prohibited. The “treatment” can cause seizures, heart problems, confusion, memory loss and brain damage. WHO says there are no indications for its use in the treatment of children.
— Children are normally diagnosed with mental disorders without ever being given a full medical checkup that could rule out medical conditions which can manifest as behavioral issues. Parents are rarely informed that many medical conditions can mimic the symptoms of a mental “disorder.” This includes lead toxicity, allergies, adrenal dysfunction, and poor diet–to name a few.
— When a child is diagnosed with a mental disorder, the first thing to do is demand a lab test, brain scan, blood test or X-ray to substantiate the diagnosis (as one would do for a medical condition).
— No child should be suddenly taken off a psychiatric drug; withdrawal should only be done under doctor’s supervision.
Eastgate said there needs to be paradigm shift in the way children with mental health or behavioral issues are treated. “It is egregious and unconscionable that in this day and age and healthcare advancement that in the mental health field children are being draconianly treated with mind-altering drugs, their developing brains can be violently subjected to electroshock–the passage of up to 460 volts of electricity sent through their young bodies–and that these practices have the ability to potentially drive them to acts of violence and suicide. Add to this, mental health screening in schools, which parents are not always aware are being conducted, can lead to these treatments being forcibly used on children.
“Parents should be fully informed of safe alternatives to mental health treatments that can cause addiction and other adverse and debilitating mental or physical side effects. The parents’ fight for full information is a fight for kids’ lives.”
 Annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Summary of the outcome of the consultation on ways to harmonize laws, policies and practices relating to mental health with the norms of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and on how to implement them,” 28 Feb.-1 Apr. 2022
 The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities General comment No. 1 (2014) of 19 May 2014
Citizens Commission on Human Rights International
6616 Sunset Boulevard
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Daily Pune journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.