SYMPOSIUM HELD TO END ABUSIVE INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT IN FLORIDA
The Baker Act in Florida has led to an alarming rise in involuntary commitments in the state, while the state seems to be more and more in the media for mental health-related violence. Is it therefore part of the solution or part of the problem? CCHR Florida, alarmed by this trend, held the first-ever Baker Act Defense Attorney Symposium and Summit to address these issues.
The Florida Mental Health Act (known as the Baker Act), sponsored by late Florida state representative Maxine Baker in 1972, includes the ability to submit someone who is considered a danger to themselves or others to a 72-hour involuntary examination.
Since 2001, the number of people so “Baker Acted” has risen 105 percent. Annually, 32,000 of those are children (as young as 2 years old) and teens. The Jacksonville newspaper, in an op-ed article entitled, “Florida’s Baker Act is overused, inefficient and inadequate,” noted: “Baker Act hospitalizations of children are sometimes used as stopgap measures for school systems or parents unable or unwilling to care for difficult children…. Other mental health advocates fear the Baker Act is a catchall used to institutionalize people for whom there’s nowhere else to go.” It concludes, “The overuse, abuse and misuse surrounding involuntary commitment is criminal.”
“Hosting this symposium was important so that these attorneys could share their successful actions in defending clients being held for involuntary psychiatric examination.”
Diane Stein, president of CCHR Florida, explains, “The problem is, who decides whether you are a danger to yourself or others? Imagine having a fight with your neighbor who then calls the police and says you are a danger; you’re picked up and put in a psychiatric facility. Imagine going to a psychiatrist for help with the stress of everyday life only to be committed because he has deemed it necessary.” The symposium covered mental health law, case law and successful actions for defending the rights of citizens who were Baker Acted. “Hosting this symposium was important so that these attorneys could share their successful actions in defending clients being held for involuntary psychiatric examination,” said Stein.
AGAINST THEIR WILL
People around the world are receiving harmful psychiatric treatment against their will.
1 in 3
of the estimated 1 million who receive it annually worldwide, did so without their consent
increase in involuntary commitment in Germany over an eight-year period
in Australia per year are subject to compulsory psychiatric treatment in their own home
while hospitalized in the United States each year
(involuntarily committed) in Florida, USA, in a single year
PUT AN END TO THE ABUSE
As a nonprofit mental health watchdog, CCHR relies on memberships and donations to carry out its mission to eradicate psychiatric violations of human rights and clean up the field of mental health. To become part of the world’s largest movement for mental health change, join the group that has helped enact more than 180 laws protecting citizens from abusive psychiatric practices.