10 Years of the Icarus Project: Reflections & The Second Generation of Icaristas


With the Icarus Project celebrating their 10 year anniversary comes nostalgia and reflection.

I can vividly remember the year the Icarus Project first came to fruition, and the joy I felt knowing that there were people like me in the world. I was 16 years old, and Icarus made me feel a little less alone in my hometown. At the time, I didn’t understand how to go about creating such a space or project on my own, as I had never met or talked to an activist before in my life. I viewed it as an act of great difficulty and awesome accomplishment to bring mad rad folks together for healing and community. I wanted to do it myself, but was overwhelmed by the task. It stayed in the back of my mind for years as I watched the unfolding beauty of healing from the sidelines.

Once I became a legal adult, I escaped my toxic home life with the Icarus Project in the back of my mind. I continued creating art as healing and took my expertise to Richmond, VA to go to college. I wanted to do awesome things with my art, maybe become an art healer, maybe something else. What I did know for certain is that I wanted to change the world. I wanted to be the change that I thought I could be, but didn’t yet know how.

Fast forward some years and I had changed majors and changed schools. I went on to study psychology and graduated at the top of my class. My grades were confirmation to the outside world that the innerworkings of our collective mind was my calling.

Northern VA, with it’s hectic lifestyle and detached-from-others nature, started to wear on me. The 9-5 professional career life is not what I saw for myself. I began searching for something more.

On a whim I visited Richmond once again for May Day celebrations in 2010. During that trip I had met activists. Activism was no longer just an intangible thing. I could see and feel and touch it for myself for the first time in my life. Just the act of them existing (whether I agreed with their tactics and work or not) was enough for me to feel empowered. I moved back to Richmond the next month.

In September 2010 I started the process and dialogue of bringing Icarus back to Richmond, as it had long come and gone with another group of people. Richmond was in great need of radical mental health once again.

In October 2010, Mindful Liberation Project was officially founded. We started as a local group of The Icarus Project, but we have become so much more since. This year we split into three separate projects and a distro/press on the side. For us, radical mental health is all around us. With our work, radical mental health has seeped into issues about police brutality against people with mental health concerns, maintaining broader activist causes and communities, and how to bring about change within ourselves as a foundation to changing injustices within and without our society.

Many of our past and current mindful liberators have gone on to great things, and have taken the torch of mad pride, empowerment, community, and self care to the outside world. And we couldn’t have done it without the foundation of the Icarus Project. At the age of 16 I was inspired to change the world, and here I am doing what I set out to do.

The Icarus Project is celebrating their 10 year anniversary. With this milestone comes the great realization that we, the groups that have come since, are the second generation of Icaristas. We have taken the foundation that Sascha and Jacks have laid and we have run with it. And run with it far we have!

Megan Osborn is a radical mental health activist living in Richmond, Virginia. At the age of 14 she was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and put on a cocktail of medications. An artist and a dreamer from her first memory forward, the medications took away her zeal for living. At 14 she began researching psychology and psychosis. At 16, she learned of the forming of The Icarus Project, and felt a little less alone in the world knowing that there were like-minded people out there. She vowed to some day use the knowledge gained from Icarus in her own work. In 2010 she graduated from George Mason University with a B.S. in Psychology. Fast forward to 2012, and Megan is now the founder of Mindful Liberation Project, a radical mental health community support group in Richmond; RVA Peer Support; and FOIA For Change, a project to end police brutality against people with mental health concerns. She is currently in graduate school in an Interdisciplinary Studies program bringing together the fields of Criminal Justice, Sociology, and Psychology where she will address the disproportionate number of U.S. inmates with mental health concerns, how the system has failed both itself and these inmates, and what we can do, if anything, to fix what has been broken for so long.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Hey Megan,

    Congrats on the 10 year anniversary of Icarus as a second generation ‘Icarista’.

    I’m afraid I don’t know very much about Icarus but I am a big fan of Will Hall’s ‘Harm Reduction Guide’. I did not use it when I got off of psych drugs because I did not know of it, but I used it later after having been off of psych drugs to understand more about those experiences.

    I wanted to know if you still identify as bipolar and if you have a medication regimen for that. If you do not take any psych drugs and do not see a psychiatrist, what is the “mad pride” label based on?

    Thanks for your activism and thanks for introducing your work here,

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  2. Mad pride is for everyone, whether or not you have personally been labeled by the psychiatric system. Mad Pride is really about Human Pride. Mad Pride celebrates how each person’s eccentricities, passion, uniqueness and freedom makes you human. Mad Pride does not allow our humanity to be pathologized by mental health systems than prefer us to feel ashamed of ourselves when we dont conform to their idealised notions.

    Thats how I see it.

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  3. I think some approaches would be to integrate holistic and compassionate care within the system, making it less patriarchal and dogmatic. Right now Psychiatry is over diagnoses people, and many issues are seeping into politics without much reality involved.

    I envision it being less huge, psychiatry needs to downsize, not grow…but branch out in the process. We need more people to see that mainstream psychiatry is too monotonous and there is nothing to say for the whole person, spiritually and physically, but it’s getting much better with your help.

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