Mental Health Watchdog Fights Involuntary Psychiatric Examination of Kids

CCHR has helped secure the safe release of over 1,200 men, women and children who were being unjustly held under the Baker Act in Florida since 2015.

According to the Baker Act Reporting Center, there were over 200,000 involuntary psychiatric examinations initiated in 2018 more than doubling over the past 17 years. Even more alarming is that more than 36,000 of these initiations were on children, some as young as 2-5 years old and in the vast majority of cases the parent was never brought into the process. [1]

The mental health law in Florida, commonly known as the Baker Act, allows for men, women and children to be sent against their will for involuntary examination at psychiatric wards known as Baker Act Receiving Facilities and held for up to 72 hours during which time, those being held may be drugged without their consent if an emergency treatment order is issued. [2]

This dramatic increase in indicative of abuse says the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health watchdog that investigates and exposes human rights violations in the mental health industry.

“Our Psychiatric Abuse Hotline receives too many calls from the families of victims who never met the criteria for a Baker Act yet are being held against their will in a psychiatric ward,” said Diane Stein, President of the Florida chapter of CCHR.

In order to help address violations of human and civil rights under the mental health law, CCHR mans this Psychiatric Abuse Hotline so that individuals who need assistance have someone they can call and have logged thousands of calls over the past few years. During this same time period, CCHR has helped to secure the safe release of more than 1,200 people being held illegally in psychiatric wards and almost half of those helped were children. All assistance provided is free of charge and those manning the Hotline are trained and certified on the mental health law through the Department of Children and Families.

In addition to the Hotline, CCHR provides numerous other public services including the documentation of mental health abuses and the filing of complaints on behalf of the victims with the applicable agencies and officials. Since February of 2015, CCHR has filed over 1,000 complaints concerning abuse within the Florida mental health system resulting in numerous investigations and sanctions of the psychiatrists and facilities involved.

“Too often people, who seek help from psychiatrists, are the victims of human rights abuses. CCHR works to expose this abuse and to help those who have been unjustly incarcerated. Our intention is to change the involuntary commitment process,” said Diane Stein.

CCHR encourages anyone who is aware of abuse within the field of mental health to fill out and abuse report form on their website by clicking here to REPORT PSYCHIATRIC ABUSE.

About CCHR: Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHR’s 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 please visit


[1] Baker Act Report

[2] Emergency Treatment Orders for the Administration of Psychotropic Medications

Release ID: 88943647