100 words why this person should win this award

I should win this award purely because the cause I am fighting for is the most important cause for those in the mental health system.  My cause is for the abolition of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT - electroshock to the brain). ECT machines have never been independently inspected or approved for medical safety. ECT can cause brain damage, permanent memory loss, learning disabilities and other intellectual impairments and even death. ECT often causes fear in patients and can aggravate or trigger depression and suicide attempts. Patients are often not fully informed about the procedure's potential harmful effects.


Part two

800 words what makes this persons contribution so important/special/unique

Even though I work full time and have two children in full time education and care for my brain damaged husband I take time to campaign for the abolition of electroconvulsive therapy.  As I concentrate specifically on this one issue I can be more targeted in my approach.

I am not and have never been mentally ill though I was sectioned under the mental health act two years ago due to poor communication and poor procedures at the hospital. (It did not help that the staff abused me and broke my arm the same day as my admission and refused treatment for 14 hours – they settled out of court). I am still fighting the health authority to clear my name. 

I started campaigning against ECT after a nurse threatened me with ECT on the ward and I determined that no-one should ever feel that fear.  When I came out of hospital I read up on ECT and found out how damaging it was and how many people were being given ECT against their will especially helpless elderly women and sometimes children.  Shortly afterwards I found out that the FDA (USA) who had never tested ECT machines were being pressurised by psychiatrists to move ECT machines from class III (dangerous) to class II ( as dangerous as a wheelchair)!  Something had to be done and I started in earnest.

I tackled my local health authority when I heard they were revising their patient ECT leaflet which was wholly inadequate.  I gave them my suggestions and spoke out about it (and their inadequate consent form) at five Governors meetings and wrote to the Chief Medical Officer. I also confronted him at a Governor’s meeting.  They said they would conduct a review of the ECT services and eventually closed one unit down. I still haunt them.

Every day I try to learn something new in my campaign.  I have read many books and read extensively on the internet.  I have joined various groups such as ‘Mind Freedom International’ and ‘Speak Out Against Psychiatry’. The latter group is new and so far has a facebook presence. I feature in a video (on facebook) when we protested outside the Royal College of Psychiatry. I pass information to these groups and converse with people as far afield as Australia as this is a worldwide problem.  ‘Mind Freedom’ has a ‘shield’ program where people who are being forced to have ECT can ask the group for help and we all galvanise as one.

Even though I am soon to be 57 years old I have embraced new technology and recently started tweeting. I have Google Alerts for key ECT words so I keep up-to-date with what is going on.  I enter comments on the net under blogs, news items and yahoo questions.  I have recently started a UK Government e-petition calling for the abolition of ECT. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/16278 I advertise this via business cards and also posters on my bicycle (as well as on the web).

I am not nominating myself for me I am nominating myself so that this gets into the public domain as nothing will happen until the public are behind us.  Most people think that ECT was banned years ago. How wrong they are.  Psychiatrists tell patients that it is not like the past.  Of course muscle paralysers and anaesthetics make the procedure less daunting to watch and bones are rarely broken however the damage of 400 volts for up to 8 seconds still courses through the brain and the body.  The electricity has to be turned up higher to overcome the anaesthetic so is actually more damaging.


People that are having or have had ECT are unlikely to be able to defend themselves against more forced ECT and so need healthy people to fight for them.  This is such an important campaign. ECT could happen to anyone.  One poor woman in the UK with no mental illness gave birth and started hallucinating. They gave her ECT before someone realised they had given her triple her usual medication which was causing the hallucinations.  She was terribly damaged. http://ectstatistics.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/a-cautionary-tale/  

People can lose memories of years of their lives, lose their education, lose their musical ability and lose the ability to learn anything new or be able to think like they used to. They can become emotionally blunted.  Here are some testimonials from all over the world that have been copied from the FDA docket. http://www.electricshocktherapy.info/more-victims-and-specialists-speak-out.html (This website is run by a man in Australia who had to save his mother from ECT).

Here is the original FDA docket containing those testimonials.


Electroconvulsive therapy should be banned like lobotomy. It disables people permanently.  If you are weaned off psychiatric drugs you can almost totally recover but with ECT the damage is permanent.




Cheryl Prax


Please sign this UK Government ‘Abolish Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Electroshock’ e-petition and relegate ECT to the history books like lobotomy.

To sign you must be a UK citizen (can live abroad) or resident (normally live in the UK)


We need 100,000 signatures to be debated in Parliament. Please pass on, thank you.