Press Releases

Congressional Staff Briefing on the Abuses of Restraints in Psychiatric Facilities

Statement by Laurie Flynn, Executive Director National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Mar 21 2000

The abuse of seclusion and restraints in psychiatric hospitals and other treatment facilities is a nationwide problem that Congress must resolve. People with mental illness are being injured or killed almost weekly through the improper use of restraints. Congress needs to put in place standards and a system to end such abuses, before any more adults or children die.

The facts are clear:

  • No national standards exist for the use of restraints.
  • Deaths and serious injuries are occurring.
  • No comprehensive reporting system exists.

How many people must die before Congress acts? NAMI hopes that action by the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be a critical step forward in ending the horror.

We have presented many reports of abuses in "Cries of Anguish," a compilation of restraints cases gathered since October 1998. It now includes reports of over 55 incidents from 24 states and the District of Columbia. Since the beginning of this year alone, seven deaths have been added to the report. Such numbers, averaging almost one occurrence per week, are far too great to be ignored.