Shouldn't we modify the laws to clarify them and close these loopholes? If the patient were your girlfriend, your wife, your sister, your mother, or your daughter, what would you want the law to be? This is (or at least should be) a bipartisan issue. Liberals, many of you go around the world lecturing other countries about how to respect human rights; why don't you do something about rights abuses on our own soil? Conservatives, most of you think human rights are an issue for the left; have you forgotten that it was George Bush senior who introduced the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act? Our legislators apparently don't think that patients deserve at least the same respect of their rights as prison inmates. We hope and believe that a judicial decision in our class action case, when it is finally issued, will help change their minds.
Wake up, America! We need to see sanctions for psychiatrists and other "mental health workers" who abuse patients' human rights. Hospitals which do so should be fined and blacklisted. Hospital managers need to have their faces slapped with the message that their patients are human -- not laboratory animals. Law enforcement officers and legislators need to understand that our U.S. constitutional rights apply not just on the streets but inside a hospital too.
Whether or not you care about the protection of political dissidents, here's some food for thought for legislators and the public about the importance of psychiatric patients' human rights:
The percentage of the population with mental health conditions is increasing as our population ages, and the elderly are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions than younger people. That means these issues will become more and more important to the general public in future.
A whopping ONE QUARTER of the country's population is being treated for a mental health disorder (source: National Institute of Mental Health) -- yes, that's 75 million people.
Just to look at depression, for example: a staggering 11% of Americans over the age of 12 are treated for depression (source: CDC).
Additionally, one in nine people suffer from anxiety disorders.
And there are many other common mental health conditions to consider, e.g. Alzheimer's (one in eight older people suffer from it), Alcoholism and drug addiction (1 in 10 people), and Autism (1 in 88 children, and growing).
These days, you would be unusual not to have a friend or loved one who suffers from a mental disorder. Mental illness is not "someone else's problem" anymore.
Take heed, Americans -- that psychiatric patient may one day be you!