Enrique Gonzalez: “You feel as if you have been buried alive” ” they got on top of me, reduced me, put me on the stretcher and tied me up“,
SPAIN. In an article by Santiago F. Reviejo for Públic, it is explained how strapping is still used with psychiatry patients in 2021. Enrique González, 36, is very familiar with psychiatric restraints, as he has been subjected to them on five occasions, and he is the president of the Canary Islands Mental Health Federation, reports Reviejo. The last time was last June when he was admitted to the emergency room of a public hospital in Santa Cruz de Tenerife because of a crisis. And it was the worst of all. He spent four days tied by his feet, hands, and torso to a stretcher, first in a room of about two square meters and then in a corridor, until he was transferred to the acute ward.
Enrique claims that, despite showing a submissive attitude, with a lot of fear because of the crisis he was going through, they ordered him to take off his clothes in front of “a lot” of people, including nursing staff, assistants, and even two security guards, to put him on a stretcher on which they had previously placed the restraining straps. “As I was paralysed by the situation, very scared,” he recalls, “and I didn’t do anything, they got on top of me, reduced me, put me on the stretcher, and tied me up“. In this state he remained for four days and four nights, in the middle of a corridor of the emergency department, except when they untied him to take him to the shower or a more sympathetic shift let him free a foot or a hand, always alone, without the possibility of seeing his family except at some specific moments, a limitation also due to the pandemic situation caused by covid-19.
“You feel as if you have been buried alive. You feel trapped in your own body by the feeling of immobility in which you are kept for so long. And yet you have gone there for a crisis, to be cured. You try to breathe, to relax. I don’t scream. Other people do because it’s very scary. It’s a feeling of extreme pain on a psychological and even physical level. You can’t change position, put yourself in a foetal position, in a more protective situation. And what the UN has said is that this is torture, a degrading practice for the patient that violates people’s rights“, this patient stresses in the article published originally in Spanish by Público.
Enrique said to reporter Reviejo that he will put even more effort into working through his association to raise awareness among health professionals who have to attend to patients like him so that they do not treat others as they have treated him. “We have to do away with the stigma that weighs on mental illness,” explains Enrique González, “with the false belief, the prejudice that leads them to act in this way when they meet a patient like this because they think he is an aggressive person”.
Photo credit: By Marc NL at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2747237