Figures have recently revealed that the controversial restraint technique is being used hundreds of times a year and mental health experts are concerned. A health minister has described the high level of usage as ‘shocking’ and ‘excessive’.
Research from the mental health charity Mind has found that some mental health trusts no longer use this type of restraint as it is considered to be too traumatic and dangerous.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that two other mental health trusts use face-down restraint two or three times a day.
The Northumberland, Tyne and Wear trust reportedly used the procedure 923 times between 2011 and 2012. Another trust based in Southampton (Southern Health trust) used the restraint 810 times. Between the two of them, the institutions account for nearly half of all face-down restraints revealed in the figures.
More worryingly however, is the fact that a number of the 54 mental health trusts approached were unable to provide the figures on restraint, despite it being a statutory requirement to document and review each episode.
Health minister Norman Lamb has expressed his interest in banning face-down restraint and is also keen to launch an investigation into the Northumberland and Southampton trusts.
Naomi Ball is a mental health service user and has endured this type of restraint before:
“It’s totally dehumanising and degrading because all control has been taken away from you. You are pinned to the floor face down, you are terrified anyway, and it just makes you feel more scared,” she said.
If you are suffering from a mental health issue and need someone to talk to, it could be worth speaking to a counsellor. For more information, please see our Mental Health page.
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