FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Protecting Florida Seniors from Psychiatric Abuse

CCHR is launching a campaign to help protect the elderly from abuse under the mental health law in Florida. It begins with a workshop titled Advanced Mental Health Directives on Sunday, August 21, at the group’s center in downtown Clearwater.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a nonprofit mental health watchdog, is launching a campaign to educate senior citizens on their rights and reduce unnecessary involuntary “examinations” (commitment) of the elderly in Florida.

On National Senior Citizens Day Sunday, August 21, CCHR Florida will show seniors how to refuse invasive psychiatric procedures by creating an “advanced mental health directive.” The workshop will take place at the CCHR Florida center in downtown Clearwater.

An advance directive is a written document expressing a person’s wishes regarding treatment, services and other assistance during a mental health crisis. As a clear statement of the person’s medical treatment preferences, it can prevent psychiatrists from administering unwanted procedures and can also grant legal decision-making authority to another person until the crisis is over.

“Because government insurance coverage for electroconvulsive therapy takes effect [when a person becomes eligible for Medicare], 65 year olds receive 360 percent more ECT treatment than 64 year olds in the United States,” says Diane Stein, President of CCHR Florida. “With studies showing that ECT shortens the lives of elderly people significantly, it is our duty to educate senior citizens on their rights and help them to put in place advance directives that will ensure their treatment wishes are honored.”

CCHR will host a weeklong open house following the Advanced Mental Health Directive Workshop on August 21. 

Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a nonprofit mental health watchdog, responsible for helping to enact more than 150 laws protecting individuals from abusive or coercive practices. CCHR has long fought to restore basic inalienable human rights to the field of mental health, including, but not limited to, full informed consent regarding the medical legitimacy of psychiatric diagnosis, the risks of psychiatric treatments, the right to all available medical alternatives and the right to refuse any treatment considered harmful.

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