Demand Humane Mental Healthcare for Children in Russia


Target: Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

Goal: Reform Russia’s mental healthcare system for children and young adults

Mental disabilities and intellectual shortcomings are difficult for anyone to deal with, especially children. Luckily for Americans, it isn’t unusual to seek help for such issues. But for the countless children and young adults that live abroad, mental healthcare is akin to torture and does much more harm than good. In Russia, orphanages teeming with disabled and mentally unstable children force overworked staff to revert to harrowing practices to exercise control — even if it means strapping children to bed posts and wheelchairs.

The death of a 7-year-old boy has generated great interest in Russia’s mental healthcare system and reveals the extreme inequalities, torturous practices and apathetic attitudes that permeate orphanages and mental health facilities. Tied to his bed posts using cloth diapers, the young boy passed away from choking on his own vomit because his restraints stopped him from rolling over to breathe. Unfortunately, this story joins countless others like it, as Russian orphanages and mental facilities continually fail to administer therapies and activities that will benefit their inhabitants.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, children, young adults and even infants are bound by their heads, arms, torsos or legs by rags or clothing to cribs, wheelchairs and cribs for hours, days, or even years. Because of this, many of the children are severely underdeveloped and lose basic motor skills. Many staff members act as ‘guards,’ watching the children to make sure they do not harm themselves or others. With no mental stimulation, social interaction or education, the orphans stare listlessly at the ceiling or rock back and forth to pass the time. In the event that any of the children ‘act out,’ volunteers and staff members are permitted to reprimand with force, which is usually a beating or intimidating scolding.

There are simply no therapeutic benefits or justifications for these actions, and as a result Russian orphanages maintain some of the highest death tolls of any country. Sign the petition to encourage President Vladimir Putin to reform mental healthcare to protect children from future injustices.


Dear Vladimir Putin,

Every day a child in a Russian orphanage dies because of neglect and improper care at the hands of under qualified staff and volunteers. Their collective indifference, coupled with your apathy, has created a dynamic so unfortunate that Russian orphanages continue to maintain some of the highest death tolls of any country. Because of this, you should be deeply ashamed.

To restrain a psychologically disabled or developmentally handicapped child to a bed post, wheelchair or even a crib is unjust and akin to torture. Many of these children have endured enough in their short lives and deserve to be awarded the same luxuries, such as social interaction, playtime and education, that healthy children receive. I urge you to take notice of these injustices and reform mental healthcare standards for infants, children and young adults, especially those living in orphanages.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: matei via morguefile

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