South Australian Psychiatrists are Asking if Restraint Should be Used to Give Forced Electroshock

Citizens Commission on Human Rights

WHO & UN Say to Ban Forced Electroshock and Restraint

Electroshock (ECT) is the application of up to hundreds of volts of electricity sent searing through the brain to create a convulsion. It can cause memory loss, brain damage, and even death. Psychiatric restraint includes bodily force and mechanical restraint (e.g., cuffed to a bed). It can and does cause death.

In 2019, the UN specifically told Australia to, “Prohibit the use of non-consensual electroconvulsive therapy on the basis of any form of impairment.”

Instead of eliminating these torturous practices as the WHO and UN have instructed, as part of the current review of the South Australian Mental Health Act, the public are being asked, “Should the law allow reasonable force to ensure a person receives ECT? If so, when?”

This ignores the 2021 WHO Guidance which points to the Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities which says patients must not be put at risk of “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” It recommends prohibiting “coercive practices such as forced admission and treatment, seclusion and restraint, as well as the administering of antipsychotic medication, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and psychosurgery without informed consent.”

The WHO highlighted the fact that coercive practices such as restraint, seclusion, involuntary commitment and treatment occur because “they are mandated in the national [or state] laws of countries.”

Despite the challenges to changing laws, the WHO says. “it is important for countries…to eliminate practices that restrict the right to legal capacity, such as involuntary admission and treatment.”

Electroshock is legal for use on South Australian children, pregnant women and elderly and can be given to children without parental consent.

ECT can be given up to 4 times in one session to establish how much electricity is needed to cause a convulsion.

In 2020/21 there were 6,182 electroshocks given to South Australians, 439 physical restraint events (bodily force) a 16% increase on the previous year and a further 42 mechanical restraints.

Both electroshock and restraint belong in the dark ages and must be banned.

/Public Release.