The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a non-profit mental health watchdog organization dedicated to eradicating abuse and restoring human rights to the field of mental health. CCHR has been instrumental in getting hundreds of laws enacted worldwide protecting individuals from abusive and coercive practices performed under the guise of mental health “treatment.”
Mental Health Human Rights
CCHR advocates for the right of anyone receiving mental health treatment to dispute any psychiatric diagnosis of mental “illness” that cannot be medically confirmed; to receive full disclosure of the risks of psychiatric drugs and treatments; to be informed of evidence-based alternatives to psychiatric drugs and treatments; and to refuse any psychiatric drugs and treatments which research studies or international drugs regulatory agencies have found to be potentially harmful or fatal.
These are among the fundamental human rights CCHR believes every individual is entitled to, as set forth in CCHR’s Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights.
Exposing Psychiatry’s Failed Medical Model
CCHR works to expose the lack of science behind psychiatry’s use of a biomedical model to characterize a person’s unwanted behavior as a disease, a mental “illness,” which supposedly can be fixed with powerful psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs targeting the brain.
In a landmark 2022 study, a rigorous and comprehensive review of all previous research on the theory that a chemical (serotonin) imbalance in the brain causes depression found that the theory is not supported by scientific evidence – it has no scientific basis. There is no proven chemical imbalance in the brain for psychotropic drugs to fix. The growing acceptance of the unproven chemical imbalance theory, one of the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry’s most widely promoted and influential theories, parallels the huge increase in the number of Americans prescribed psychotropic drugs. One in four Americans is now taking one or more psychotropic drugs.
Raising awareness of the harms of psychiatric drugs and treatments
CCHR is dedicated to providing the public with accurate, science-based information about the harms of psychiatric drugs and practices so consumers and prescribers can make fully informed decisions about mental health treatment. This information includes the risks of serious side effects and withdrawal symptoms from psychotropic drugs, as determined by clinical and academic studies and U.S. and international drug regulatory agencies.
CCHR is raising public awareness of the fact that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, or “electroshock”) has never been proven safe or effective. Psychiatrists and others involved in performing this “treatment” still do not know how ECT is supposed to “work,” how much voltage it will take, or how many sessions of ECT to administer. It is a matter of trial and error with human lives, exposing patients to the risks of brain damage, permanent memory loss, spontaneous seizures, and even death. Children ages 5 and younger are being electroshocked in the U.S. CCHR advocates a total ban on ECT and sponsors an online petition to ban it.
CCHR recommends a complete physical examination with lab tests, nutritional and allergy screenings, and a review of all current medications to identify any physical causes of unwanted mental and behavioral symptoms, which might otherwise be misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated as a psychiatric disorder.
Opposing coercive psychiatric treatment
CCHR believes that involuntary psychiatric treatment violates every fundamental human right and that no one should be deprived of life, liberty, and other civil and human rights under the guise of “mental health treatment.”
In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for an end to coercive mental health treatment, noting that individuals in mental health crisis “are at a heightened risk of their human rights being violated, including through forced admissions and treatment,” and that “these practices have been shown to be harmful to people’s mental, emotional and physical health, sometimes leading to death.”
Years ahead of the WHO’s stand, CCHR’s co-founder, the late psychiatrist and humanitarian Thomas M. Szasz, M.D., advocated an end to forced psychiatric treatment, writing that “increasing numbers of persons, both in the mental health professions and in public life, have come to acknowledge that involuntary psychiatric interventions are methods of social control. On both moral and practical grounds, I advocate the abolition of all involuntary psychiatry.”
Founded in 1969
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was co-founded in 1969 by members of the Church of Scientology and the late psychiatrist and humanitarian Thomas M. Szasz, M.D., a professor of psychiatry considered by many academics to be modern-day psychiatry’s most authoritative critic. CCHR’s Board of Advisers has included doctors, scientists, psychologists, lawyers, legislators, educators, business professionals, artists and civil and human rights representatives.
The CCHR National Affairs Office in Washington, DC, has advocated for mental health rights and protections at the state and federal level. The CCHR traveling exhibit, which has toured major cities worldwide and educated visitors on the history to the present day of abusive and racist psychiatric practices, has been displayed in Washington, DC, at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference and other locations.