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243

CCHR asks Policy Makers to Change Florida's Mental Health Law

The Florida chapter of the international mental health watchdog, [Citizens Commission on Human Rights] (CCHR), is asking policy makers to change how the mental health law is applied to children and teens to protect them from unjust involuntary psychiatric examinations.

According to the most recent report released by the [Baker Act] Reporting Center, there were over 32,000 involuntary psychiatric examinations initiated on children in Florida during 2017. The mental health law for the state, commonly called the Baker Act allows for a person of any age to be taken into custody and transported to a psychiatric receiving facility for examination and this includes children as young as two years of age. [1]

With it being disclosed during a meeting of the Baker Act Task Force in 2017 that 30 percent of the minor Baker Acts in Pinellas County alone did not meet the criteria, CCHR believes adoption of policy to bring parents and guardians into the process before a child is put through the trauma of a Baker Act only makes sense. [2]

Over the past few years CCHR has helped to make changes to the Baker Act specifically for the purpose of protecting children including changes in how long a Baker Act Receiving Facility has to initiate an examination on a child reducing it from 72 hours to 12 hours. Stating that the trauma experienced by a child, especially a very young child, needs to be taken into consideration by those who have the authority to send children for an [involuntary psychiatric examination](https://www.cchrflorida.org/baker-act-rights/), CCHR is asking policy makers to amend the law to clearly spell out the procedure for Baker Acting a child.

The Baker Act is being used incorrectly. A large number of children who do not meet the criteria are unjustly being Baker Acted and this abuse comes with long term ramifications for that child and the family, stated Diane Stein, President CCHR Florida.

Currently parents and legal guardians are being left out of the process only finding out that their child has been Baker Acted after initiation and usually after the child has been transported by law enforcement to a psychiatric facility. CCHR believes that this is a rights violation, a belief that is shared by Sheriffs, Police Chiefs and even School Districts across Florida.

Since 2017, CCHR has been working to educate those granted the power to initiate a Baker Act on why a parent or guardian should be brought into the process before initiation resulting in county and city level policy changes, mostly within law enforcement, to contact the parents of a child before initiating a Baker Act.

This policy adoption is helping to protect children and reducing the number of illegal Baker Acts where a child does not meet the criteria to be sent for involuntary psychiatric examination, said Ms. Stein.

Those interested in learning more about CCHRs campaign to protect children from abusive Baker Acting are encouraged to call 800-782-2878.

About CCHR: Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHRs mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, first brought psychiatric imprisonment to wide public notice: Thousands and thousands are seized without process of law, every week, over the free world tortured, castrated, killed. All in the name of mental health, he wrote in March 1969. For more information visit [www.cchrflorida.org](http://www.cchrflorida.org/)

Sources:

[1] Baker Act Reporting Center http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/samh/publications/The%20Baker%20Act%20-%20FL%20MH%20Act%20-%20FY%2016-17%20Annual%20Report%20-%20Released%20June%202018.pdf

[2] CHILDRENS BAKER ACT TASK FORCE, MINUTES for FIRST MEETING 7.20.17 http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/samh/mentalhealth/task-force-examination-minors/docs/20170720/20170720-minutes.pdf   
 
 

Contact Information

  • Name: Diane Stein

    Company: Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida

    Telphone: +1--+1--+1- , -

    Address: 109 North Fort Harrison Avenue

    Email: publicaffairs@cchrflorida.org