Laws that allow the use of
involuntary treatments such as forced drugging and inpatient and
outpatient commitment should be viewed as inherently suspect, because
they are incompatible with the principle of self determination.
Public policy needs to move in the direction of a totally voluntary
community-based mental health system that safeguards human dignity
and respects individual autonomy.
People labeled with psychiatric
disabilities should have a major role in the direction and control of
programs and services designed for their benefit. This central role
must be played by people labeled with psychiatric disabilities
themselves, and should not be confused with the roles that family
members, professional advocates, and others often play when
"consumer" input is sought.
Mental health treatment should be
about healing, not punishment. Accordingly, the use of aversive
treatments, including physical and chemical restraints, seclusion and
similar techniques that restrict freedom of movement, should be
banned. Also, public policy should move toward the elimination of
electro-convulsive therapy and psycho surgery as unproven and
inherently inhumane procedures. Effective humane alternatives to
these techniques exist now and should be promoted.
Federal research and demonstration
resources should place a higher priority on the development of
culturally appropriate alternatives to the medical and biochemical
approaches to treatment of people labeled with psychiatric
disabilities, including self-help, peer support, and other
consumer/survivor-driven alternatives to the traditional mental
Eligibility for services in the
community should never be contingent on participation in treatment
programs. People labeled with psychiatric disabilities should be able
to select from a menu of independently available services and
programs, including mental health services, housing, vocational
training, and job placement, and should be free to reject any service
or program. Moreover, in part in response to the Supreme Courts
decision in L.C. v. Olmstead, State and federal governments should
work with people labeled with psychiatric disabilities and others
receiving publicly-funded care in institutions to expand culturally
appropriate home and community-based supports so that people are able
to leave institutional care and, if they choose, access an effective,
flexible, consumer/survivor-driven system of supports and services in
Employment and training and
vocational rehabilitation programs must account for the wide range of
abilities, skills, knowledge and experience of people labeled with
psychiatric disabilities by administering programs that are highly
individualized and responsive to the abilities, preferences, and
personal goals of program participants.
Federal income support programs
like Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability
Insurance should provide flexible and work-friendly support options
so that people with episodic or unpredictable disabilities are not
required to participate in the current "all or nothing"
federal disability benefit system, often at the expense of pursuing
their employment goals.
To assure that parity laws do not
make it easier to force people into accepting "treatments"
they do not want, it is critical that these laws define parity only
in terms of voluntary treatments and services.
Government civil rights
enforcement agencies and publicly-funded advocacy organizations
should work more closely together and with adequate funding to
implement effectively critical existing laws like the Americans with
Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act, Civil Rights of Institutionalized
Persons Act, Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental
Illness Act, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, giving
people labeled with psychiatric disabilities a central role in
setting the priorities for enforcement and implementation of these laws.
Federal, State and local governments, including education, health care, social services, juvenile justice, and civil rights enforcement agencies, must work together to reduce the placement of children and young adults with disabilities, particularly those labeled seriously emotionally disturbed, in correctional facilities and other segregated settings. These placements are often harmful, inconsistent with the federally-protected right to a free and appropriate public education, and unnecessary if timely, coordinated, family-centered supports and services are made available in mainstream settings.
Table of Contents Page.