Just a handful of miles south of us in Connecticut, one of the largest investigations of abuse by an institution of individuals with psychiatric histories is currently underway.
As of just a few days ago, 37 employees at Whiting Forensic have now been suspended as a part of investigations of abuse, with nine of them (so far) formally arrested on felony warrants. Among those arrested is forensic head nurse, Mark Cusson, who has been arraigned on eight counts of cruelty to persons.
Much of the abuse was caught on video, and included diapers and dirty mops being rubbed on someone’s head, as well as physical violence.
This was all reportedly brought to a head by a whistleblower who named the abuse, and by the fact that much of it was caught on video. According to an excerpt from an article in the Courant:
The State Department of Public Health recently issued a 102-page inspection report on Whiting, saying as many as 40 staff members “were identified in the video log as being abusive or witnessing abuse and not reporting it, and that another eight workers were talking on their cellphones or had left the immediate area while they were supposed to be constantly observing the patient who was the victim of the abuse.”
This marks the largest group of state mental health workers ever implicated in a single instance of abuse. Of course, this is far from the only example of abuse and neglect in psychiatric institutions both near and far. For example, the Westwood Lodge in Massachusetts (a hospital administered by Arbour Health Systems) was recently just permanently closed due (at least in part) to alleged allegations of abuse and neglect, after many years of complaints from individuals who had been hospitalized there.
Unfortunately, complaints of this nature are often ignored for a variety of reasons including that people with psychiatric labels are frequently viewed by staff as not being credible in their reports, due to fears of retaliation (on the part of both those hospitalized and employed at these facilities), and so on. This is especially true since video evidence is not usually available.
What happens at Whiting has big implications for all of us, no matter where we live. Being hospitalized (often against one’s will) in a psychiatric facility is an extremely vulnerable position to be in, and human rights violations are common. We should all be paying attention and offering our support and voices to what happens with our neighbors in Connecticut.
To keep up-to-date on the Whiting Forensic Investigation, check out the Facebook Page for Advocacy Unlimited: www.facebook.com/AdvocacyUnlimitedCT/