Reports of electroshock therapy cause concern

Following the testimony of one patient who witnessed numerous instances of electroshock therapy being performed on other patients without their consent in a Turkish state mental health facility, issues regarding health, safety and quality of treatment in these facilities have come under scrutiny.

Reports of electroshock therapy causeconcern regarding quality of Turkey's mental health facilities

Nuray Pehlivan / DUVAR IZMIR

Following the testimony of one patientwho witnessed numerous instances of electroshock therapy beingperformed on other patients without their consent in a Turkish statemental health facility, issues regarding health, safety and qualityof treatment in these facilities have come under scrutiny.

In an interview with Duvar English,former patient Ömer Burçin Özkişi detailed the harrowingexperiences he witnessed and endured at a state mental healthfacility in the province of Manisa, where he was voluntarilycommitted for 15 days in 2015 for bipolar treatment.

“I'm thankful for my doctor for notperforming electroshock therapy on me. But most of the patients gottheir share of it. I witnessed it myself. Within the time I stayedthere, I know that there were patients who entered electroshocktherapy 5-6 times,” Özkişi said.

“Therewas nothing of the sort. They said electroshock was going to beconducted and the patient was brought in. Most of them did not wantthis. Who would want it anyway! I know that a friend of mine who hasbipolar disorder was given electroshock therapy without theirconsent. They are still cursing it. Let's assume that consent wasobtained, most of the time they were under the influence ofmedications so I don't know how healthy it was. At the end of theday, if they wanted to fabricate a procedure they would do so,”Özkişi said when he was asked if doctors received consent frompatients who underwent electroshock therapy.

According to Özkişi, the Manisamental health hospital that he stayed in was ridden with inhumaneconditions. Describing the facility as a “storage unit,” he saidhe stayed in a dormitory with 80 other people, some of whom hadcriminal records. Patients were only allowed to shower twice a weekfor two to three minutes at a time, and were forced to use the samesoap. He said he witnessed a disabled, mute eleven-year old beingmolested by other patients.

“Forgetabout those who are ill, if a healthy person stayed there for 15days, they would not emerge from there in a healthy state. Whathappens there has nothing to do with treatment and humane conditionsare nonexistent. It's like a shelter where people squeezed inside anarrow space are given food and pills. When I was picked up on theday I left, I sobbed in front of the gate,” Özkişi said.

Areamedical professionals admit that there are serious issues plaguingthe mental health facilities: “I've read about what our patientexperienced. You can be sure that there are even worse stories thanthis. We admit that the conditions are poor, and that there areserious problems concerning mental health treatment services. Howeverthe main problem is that the state has no solution regarding thisissue,” Manisa Chamber of Doctors President Sahut Duran told DuvarEnglish.

“Firstand foremost, we don't have laws pertaining to mental health. Even incertain African countries there are mental health laws but not in ourcountry. This is why our standards don't improve,” Duran said,adding that the mental health services are being administered inhospitals that “recall the Middle Ages.”