As a Mum, I am writing to you out of concern for South Australian children. Recently I discovered that the new Mental Health Act in South Australia had been passed through Parliament and will be in use next year. This new bill can only lead to a huge increase of children on dangerous psychiatric drugs. Parental consent will not even be needed in all cases for children to be given these drugs.
My son, who is now 16, was diagnosed with ADHD/ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and Childhood Depression when he was in preschool and we were told that he needed antidepressants and amphetamines. We chose not to medicate after researching how dangerous these drugs can be. No antidepressant is authorised for use in any child under 18 in Australia for depression and antidepressants have warnings for suicidal behaviour in Australia and overseas. We discovered that the two main ADHD drugs including Ritalin are in the same class as cocaine, morphine and opium in Australia. We were horrified!
Since we discovered the truth both my husband and I have done many hundreds of seminars around Australia, including South Australia. Our aim is to help educate parents who are having challenges with their children, providing holistic information on what can be done to help a child without drugs.
I was so alarmed to see in the new mental health act that parental rights are being totally ignored. In the new bill any child could be involuntarily detained – meaning by law the child is detained in a psychiatric hospital or ward – and the child could be treated and given psychiatric drugs without the need for any parental consent. Parents could have no rights to refuse any psychiatric treatment proposed for their child and could be told they cannot take their child home.
The new bill also does not guarantee that our beautiful children will be housed in separate wards from adults and any child could be restrained, secluded and even given electric shock treatment all without the need for parental consent. Electric shock is not banned and it can be given to children in South Australia. Electric shock can cause brain damage, memory loss and even death.
Then there is the use of reasonable force to administer treatment. The use of physical force on a vulnerable child can only make the situation worse and be extremely frightening for the child. Children need love, care and security and in my journey I found that none of these brutal treatments were needed for my son. They can only harm and not help any child.
It is so important that parents are made aware of this situation and that their concerns are then passed on to local Members of Parliament and the Mental Health Minister so that amendments are be made to this bill once it is in use to protect our children. It was not always easy and children can be difficult but there are safe solutions.
This is such an important issue as everybody in our society has relationships with children whether they are parents, teachers, child carers or grandparents. We need non-drug solutions for our children and real help that finds and treats the cause of each problem for each child.
As parents we need to be heard. We are not happy about the new Mental Health Act of S.A. being implemented in 2010 and this is NOT acceptable treatment of our children and cannot be tolerated.
Lillian Reekie (Qld)