VMIAC released a report that ranks 23 hospital-based mental health services, from best to worst, based on how often they use ‘seclusion’.
What is seclusion? Seclusion is a ‘restrictive’ practice used in mental health services which involves locking distressed patients into an isolated room.
Key data in the report
- Victoria is not doing well compared to the rest of Australia. Australia-wide, seclusion has been on a downward trend for 10 years. Victoria was following that trend until four years ago, when Victorian seclusion rates started climbing again.
- Some hospitals are secluding people at much higher rates than others. People in Barwon are 18 times more likely to be secluded than people in Traralgon. People in Box Hill are 12 times more likely to be secluded than people in Cranbourne. There is no justification for this.
- Long seclusion times. On average, Victorian hospitals seclude people for 8.3 hours, much higher than the national average of 5.1 hours.
Why we wrote The Seclusion Report
1. To make information about seclusion more accessible to consumers.
We deserve to know how safe, or unsafe, our local hospital might be. This information is often too difficult to find or make sense of, so we’ve done the work for you.
2. To create extra pressure for change.
We don’t think hospitals are held accountable enough for the ways they can hurt people, especially in mental health inpatient units. We’re making this info public, and easy to understand, so more people join us in calling for change.
3. To acknowledge survivors & encourage us all to speak out.
We know there are thousands of people who live with emotional trauma from seclusion. Worse, many people don’t believe us when we talk about what services have done to us.
We urge everyone who has experienced seclusion, restraint, forced treatment or other traumas, to speak up to the Royal Commission into Mental Health. Go to a consultation. Write a submission. Register with VMIAC for support if you need it. It’s important that our stories are heard. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a difference.
Seclusion can be harmful for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. It’s now well-known from research that seclusion can cause feelings of humiliation, shame, disempowerment, fear and more.
For many people, being secluded can cause us to lose all trust in mental health workers. Many people live with years of ongoing trauma.
Seclusion might be legal in Victoria, but it’s a breach of our rights under international law. Relevant rights can include:
- Right to liberty
- Right to bodily integrity
- Right to freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman & degrading treatment.