Abla Abdelhadi, a Palestinian activist living and organizing in Ottawa, has been surprised by the lack of support for her in dealing with mental health related issues.
“It’s almost like, ‘Get better, and then when you do get better, come back and join us,’ as if struggling through and surviving through having mental health issues—in a capitalist, colonial, racist society—has no room in our struggles, and we don’t often talk about that,” she said.
Abdelhadi says she experienced criminalization, detainment, forcible hospitalization, assault and torture during her first manic episode while visiting the US two years ago. Since then, she has also experienced ableism within the activist community while dealing with trauma and working to fight her charges, fundraise and find support.
“It was like a wake-up call,” said Abdelhadi. “It…made me realize why we need to talk about community interdependence, and why all our movements have to have disability justice intersecting everything we do.”
“For Abdelhadi, mental health activism needs to be rooted in a framework that recognizes the interconnection of structures of violence and works to dismantle them, drawing upon the analysis of disability justice writer and organizer Mia Mingus, a queer physically-disabled woman of colour. Better access to mental health resources is important, says Abdelhadi, but so is understanding how ableism is interconnected with racism, colonialism, capitalism and cis-gendered heteropatriarchy.”
I am an Activist for Mental Health Issues from the peer perspective–that is, from the point of view of someone who lives with mental health issues. My immediate goal is to provide a clearing house and networking node for others who live with emotional and mental health problems.
Not all of us can function at a high level–at least not all of the time–and most of us are hampered by geographical, educational, social, cultural, ideological, economic, physical, intellectual and cognitive issues which can range from the unpleasant yet tolerable to the wholly unendurable. Add stigma–sorry, prejudice!–to the mix and it’s a wonder some of us ever maintain articulacy at all.
What am I doing about it? As an inhabitant of Owen Sound, a medically under-served community in Western Ontario, Canada, I have had to deal with a number of these problems. I do, however, enjoy the benefits of Bulldog tenacity coupled with Jack Russell wit. I can provide a voice for the voiceless, I can provide activism on behalf of the impaired, and best of all, I can push for more grass-roots, bottom-up citizen influence in a top-down, “provider”-based bureaucratic system.
I am a MADvocate. I’m loud and proud. I’m not anti-psychiatry in principle, only in practise: the medical community’s tendency to overpathologize cannot but be considered misguided, and their default response–to wield the blunt instrument of medication–is nothing short of an abdication of responsibility. Sometimes the best therapist is the patient. We’re all in this together. We only have ourselves to work with. Let’s get busy!
The Consumer Survivor Information Resource Centre is a walk-in resource centre with public access to computer, limited photocopying and fax machine; free literature related to mental health and addictions; books and videos related to mental health and addictions for use at the centre (do not lend books or videos out); information about and referral to mental health and addictions services, over the phone or in person.
Help us spread the word about our new blog dedicated to creating safe place for individuals who have mental illnesses to seek help, advice, or just someone to talk to who understands what they are going through.
We have a lists of hotlines for over 50 countries listed, chatrooms categorized by illness, websites where you can find help and information, and people who willing to listen and give advice.
Mental health has become a taboo in our world and as a result people living with mental health illness feel that they are unable to reach out for help in fear that they will be judged. It is important for us to have a place where people are supportive and help each other.
Trailer for “Open Dialogue,” a 74-minute documentary film on the Western Lapland Open Dialogue Project, the program presently getting the best results in the developed world for first-break psychosis — approximately 85% full recovery, a far majority off anti-psychotic medication.
That’s Crazy: documentary on the coercive nature of psychiatry
The producer is looking for funding to continue making this. Here’s a ten minute clip.
If you’re not aware of just how brutal and coercive psychiatry can be, you should really watch this. This may seem extreme to those who’ve not seen it happening but it’s very common and the bottom line is psychiatry, in general, at best, is subtly coercive. Drugs are generally presented as necessary rather than one, often far less than ideal, possibility for treatment.
CLINICAL SUMMARY: THAT’S CRAZY is the story of Eric and two others who are on the frontlines of a revolution in mental health. They are part of a new phenomenon – a growing number of people who say we need to rethink mental illness. The critics are the patients.
STATUS: Eric, a genetics major, and his father, a doctor living in Madison, Wisconsin never thought they would challenge the mental health system. But when Eric, diagnosed as schizophrenic, decided to refuse his medications because they made him feel worse, the county issued a set of court orders that allowed police to pick him up and take him to a local hospital to be force medicated. Eric’s decision to refuse involuntary treatment with the help of his family and mental health activists triggers a series of personal, medical and legal battles that are captured with Iphones, Flip and Hi Def cameras by everybody involved as the events take place in real time.
WHY WE’RE DOING IT
Madness is a profound, deeply human and common experience. One in five Americans or 60 million of us will “experience a diagnosable mental illness” in any given year. Yet despite the prevalence of sadness, anxiety, and fire in the brain, there’s an important part of the discussion that’s occurring off the radar and that’s what the people who are diagnosed have to say. THAT’S CRAZY presents the experience of the people who have been through the fire and back again. We are committed to this film because we think what they’re saying is eventually going to effect everybody.
How do we know when someone is too shy? Grieves too much? Needs medication for anxiety? Many people with a mental health history challenge the idea that their experiences are pathological – or the result of a chemical imbalance in their brains. They claim the right to choose the treatment that works best for them – above all they insist that when they are in charge, full recovery is possible. They say that the key to recovery is not compliance with meds, but living with purpose and autonomy. They point to scientific evidence that shows that antipsychotics, the primary treatment for mental illness, work for some but not all and that for most, recovery rates are higher without psych drugs. They believe that forced commitments and forced treatments, which are standard for millions of Americans violate their constitutional and human rights. In their view, they’re not crazy – the system is. Welcome to the revolution that wants to redefine normal.
my friend got a flyer from the author of this blog, Paolo Reed, this past weekend at the “Human Rights Rally that was organized by the friendly folks from the Indigenous Resistance.org network, and sponsored (in Part) by The Flagstaff Action Network, Outta’ Your Backpack Media, The Arizona Center for Biological Diversity, and theShanker Law Firm, at Wheeler Park in Flagstaff, AZ”
you can read his post about his experience at the rally here:
“Identity is a tricky thing in America today, and perhaps in human experience itself. I know that my father’s conflict with self identity flowed in part from his modern “heritage” as an American Indian man, in large part because was an “Oklahoma Indian,” a member of the far displaced Chickasaw nation, and a person who grew up in a time when Indian children in Oklahoma were told by their own parents to cloak their indianness because their parents were terrified by what they know about the new blood colonizers. The depression that my father experienced later in his life was rooted in identity conflicts, I know this much about him, conflicts as deep as the waters of the greatest northern lakes, and as personal as humanely possible. My depression flows from these same elements of self understanding and conflict, albeit in a different form. But today, with the help of others who understand the graphic fear that comes with believing- for whatever reason- that you are not worthy of- or cut out for- life itself, as well as of those who are capable of comprehending the egregious state of human rights issues in the United States and beyond, I may find the means to bring voice to the patients at ASH. Please, whoever you are, become involved in expressing simple, straight forward demands for rigorous investigation and oversight of the atrociously inhumane conditions at the Arizona State Hospital today.” - Paolo Reed