Unethical Mental Health Practices: What do they look like?


“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”-Abraham Lincoln

A review of some of the common unethical  practices perpetrated by unscrupulous mental health providers published by  Anchored-in-Knowledge.


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Anchored In Knowledge Counseling

I recently spoke with a former colleague who shared a story of a young 17-year-old who was killed during a physical restraint (stay tuned for my Personal Stories Week on Psychcentral, coming August 17th-24th, for more on this story). She was not only disgusted by her colleagues but shocked that the agency suspended these three men with pay. This story sparked another story which sparked a series of questions about unethical behaviors and what they look like within mental health agencies. I have taken the opportunity to list a few below. Please feel free to share your experiences of unethical behaviors within mental health agencies in the comments section below.

What are common unethical practices?

It’s difficult for many families to determine what is ethical and what is unethical. Here is a list of unethical behaviors that often occur in mental health facilities:

  • Neglecting to meet with clients during a…

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2 thoughts on “Unethical Mental Health Practices: What do they look like?

  1. Yep, all those unethical things are common in therapy. I’ve had every single one of the things on that list done to me. And I think you left out a few more biggies: Therapists who use “sectioning” power, or threaten to section, as a way of terrorizing the patient. Or if a therapist is accusatory. Most are either abusive or incompetent. In fact, if you talk to someone who points out to you how “great” their therapist is, ask how many bad ones they saw first?

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  2. I don’t have any direct experience with the abuses list you cite. My care has been neurosurgical. But it seems disorders of the brain carry a stigma, and those affected are often marginalized and discriminated against – which no doubt has led to homelessness. Of course, 50+ yrs ago it was common for individuals to be institutionalized. Brain health is not very well chided in a nation that celebrates party drinking, excesses, and related dysfunctional behavior. But if you fall off the wagon of sorts, or develop a real problem, you become an outcast. I also see a nation that talks out both sides of its mouth on disability rights. I’ve written about the accessibility protections needed in cognitive disabilities, which are often secondary to mental health, addiction disorders, and PTSD. But, brain health is in great need of advocacy and understanding. The only sector to receive any real awareness of late has been with addiction disorders, where groups have been able to get insurance reimbursement. I find these prejudices particularly troubling at a time when the gov’t & courts have undertaken considerable measures on behalf of gay rights, gender reassignment, and now illegal immigrants, while ignoring the millions of Americans with brain health needs. I think we’re really dealing with taboos & failed PR. My heart goes out to those of you who have been exploited & abused.

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