Loading articles...

1 in 4 mental health patients controlled with drugs, restraints, seclusion: report

File photo of depressed person. Jutta Klee, The Canadian Press.

A new report has found that almost one in four patients admitted to a mental health bed in Ontario ended up being controlled using physical restraints, drugs or seclusion.

The report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information says that over the last four years, more than 30,000 patients were subjected to a control intervention of some kind.

Almost 60 per cent were given antipsychotic or sedating drugs, about 20 per cent were held down or restrained with straps, while another 20 per cent were temporarily put alone in a room.

The report says those admitted to a general hospital for mental illness were about 1 1/2 times more likely to be constrained in some way than those admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

And patients in general hospitals were more than 2 1/2 times as likely to be held down or put in mechanical restraints than their counterparts at psychiatric facilities.

Restraints and other control measures are used to stop patients from hurting themselves or harming others, but Ontario legislation says they should be used as a last resort.

“Restraint measures have historically been employed for the safety of clients and staff. However, minimizing their use continues to be our ultimate goal,” says Debra Churchill, director of professional practice for the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences.

“There is an opportunity to look at the strategies and lessons learned by psychiatric hospitals that are successfully limiting their restraint use and to see how these lessons can be adopted more broadly.”