One Year of Mad In America

Natan
34
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In January 2012, Mad In America went live with a handful of bloggers and the mission to become a central community in the effort to rethink and transform the paradigm of psychiatric care.

I want to offer some thoughts and figures about where we’ve been in the past year and what we are growing into.

Then I want to ask you for money.

Over the past year, traffic to Mad In America has more than doubled. We now serve pages to over 2,000 unique visitors a day, 30-40k unique visitors per month. Over the life of the site we’ve seen 400,000 unique visitors, over 120,000 of whom have read our most popular article at least once. These numbers have been rising substantially in the past few weeks thanks to improvements to social sharing, SEO, and your help spreading the content of Mad In America. April is poised to be a record-breaking month for us.

140+ individuals have published an article on the site, and we’ve had over 16,000 comments on blog posts, almost all of which are now civil and on-topic in accordance with our posting guidelines.

Aside from Facebook and Twitter, we have received substantial traffic from Reddit, Boing Boing, Huffington Post, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. I want to put out a special thanks to individual bloggers who have sent us thousands of visitors including Beyond Meds, Discover and Recover, and 1 Boring Old Man. We’ve also seen surprising rushes of traffic from online forums for mothers and for mental health professionals when our articles are shared on those sites. Word-of-mouth referral is a powerful way our readers help make the public more aware of the issues we are discussing here, which I think we all feel are missed and brushed aside in dialogues elsewhere.

This growth is just a beginning. In my mind our traffic plateau, the optimal “market share” of our message, is much larger than anything we’ve seen so far. Several articles on Mad in America have broken out, reaching thousands, or tens of thousands, of people. You will now see these particular posts re-featured on the front page. I believe there is more we can all be doing to promote our best content, especially to young people and activists who can help carry the torch of human rights for individuals with psychiatric diagnoses to new networks and locales.

We are making many improvements to the site itself, making it easier to read, find, subscribe to, and share what you want.

Our senior editor, Kermit Cole, added the Blog Roundup section to our front page, curates our growing Resources area, and continues to bring you important news and research updates daily. Kermit is also the producer of the lovingly produced MIA Reports videos, which I encourage you to take the time to browse.

At Mad in America, we hear people ask almost every day where they can go for one-on-one help getting off psych drugs. So far we’ve had few ways to respond to this strikingly common question. To remedy that, Laura Delano, our Personal Stories editor, is now working daily on a directory of mental health professionals who offer to assist people with coming off of psychiatric drugs. This searchable list will be available soon on the website, along with a form to submit new entries for review. In my witnessing, the absence of experienced support is one factor that makes or breaks many peoples’ attempts to re-imagine their lives free of the psychiatric system. We hope this resource will make a positive difference for many in need.

We have other plans to expand what we do in ways that will enrich this site and the community.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is that so far we have had almost zero outside help. When we started, Bob Whitaker was paying web developers out of pocket, and our first year expenses were covered by generous private seed money that we are working through at a steady pace.

Since we put up a way for you to help us out in October, we’ve raised a little over $1,600. We are very grateful to those who have donated so far, but obviously this isn’t enough to sustain the ongoing operations of a robust online magazine.

Starting today, those who are not yet supporters will start to notice an easily-dismissed popup on occasion when you reach the bottom of an article. The way to prevent this from happening, and feel good knowing that you are making a substantial contribution to the efforts of this site, is to support Mad In America.

My personal hope is that we can be a pioneering community not only in our content but also in the way we do business. We are in this for you, readers. We chose to incorporate as a standard LLC rather than a non-profit solely to keep overhead and bureaucracy at a bare minimum. We are a small, flexible team passionate about the thriving independent journalism and community on this site. We believe that to try to rely on advertisements, affiliate programs, or paywalls to finance our operations would not serve our readers well and would compromise our ability to deliver the content — and free exchange of ideas — that we do.

We, of course, do need to generate revenue for Mad In America. That’s where you come in. The best way I can see to make this work is for the majority our regular readers to contribute something, whatever feels right for you. When our income comes directly from your good will, we are beholden to you. We have no choice but to continue making this into the space you want to see and share.

Thank you for being a part of this project and community.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Believe me, I would contribute if I could. I can’t even afford to eat right now. I believe this must be a problem for a great many ‘psych survivors’ – economic insecurity & poverty. I hope all the mental health professionals & others making a decent living will take it on themselves to contribute. All the professionals at ISEPP and other groups – please consider donating some of your pocket change, since many of us have none to spare. Please! MIA is too valuable of a resource.

    Thanks Matthew Cohen & the whole team for all you do.

  2. marvellous. You have indeed become an important resource for activists, an intereting read for many and a hearty encouragement for those trapped by destructive aspects of psychiatry.

    I live in poverty, which while not exactly dire, does leave me being very careful with my money, as will many other. So it is unlikely you will get much, if anything out from me, but I’ll continue to promote this site and perhaps some of those will have money to donate.

  3. I’d happily make a small contribution (I’m unemployed at the moment) but I don’t have a credit card. Is there a mailing address I could send a cheque to? Also, would it be made out to “Mad in America”? I love this website and have very high regard for Bob Whitaker. Just let me know and I’ll get on it.

  4. I’ve been med free since 7/1/11. When I started tapering I was on 10 different prescription drugs: 5 of them psych (though one was a prn) and 5 of them for the side effects of psych drugs. I estimate that I was at $3,000 a month then for my meds. In the 21 months that I’ve been off all prescription pills I’ve not only regained my physical and mental health, I’ve also saved $63,000. I saw my psychiatrist at a 50% discounted price of $100/50 min. session a week, which was $400/month. In 21 months this has saved $8,400.

    MIA is my method for making meaning of all the senseless madness I experienced in psychiatry. It is my mental health fix. I entreat anyone who sees the unique value of MIA and has the means to do so to please help contribute to the cause of full spectrum ways of dealing with, understanding, and learning about psychiatric issues. It means the world to me and others like me who are struggling to regain our voice and sense of self. Thank you.

    (* I also am already a monthly subscriber and thus am included in that pittance of $1,600 total referenced above.)

  5. I second the motion to provide an address for contributions.

    Another reason for doing so is for those who wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons now that our country is becoming like fascist Soviet Russia apt to involuntarily commit and force poison anyone exposing the fraud of bio-psychiatry or the accelerated violation of human rights in so called democracies!

    Shame on Obama and his cohorts for refusing to acknowledge that psych drugs are the main culprits in a list of 25 drugs causing the most violence published by TIME MAGAZINE. Instead, they have taken the easy route of further scapegoating the so called “mentally ill” or those made the most powerless by the bio-psychiatry/BIG PHARMA/government cartel to appease the gun manufacturers and the NRA while throwing another gift of more billions to BIG PHARMA. BIG PHARM is already implementing bogus BIG PHARMA funded screenings in many school districts without even trying to cover up the BIG PHARMA source. Such bogus screenings like TEEN SCREEN have been shown to devastate the children screened and their families since the goal is to stigmatize and drug more and more people from cradle to grave.

    It’s disgusting how so called “mental health” agencies and “experts” have been all too eager to jump on the bandwagon of demonizing the so called mentally ill to get more funding. Some pretend to feel shame for exploiting recent national tragedies to further game the system and harm more people, but readily justify this flagrant abuse of power. The worst travesty is that James Holmes and Adam Lanza along with most if not all school/public shooters were being “treated” with dangerous drugs by psychiatrists before their meltdowns. But, the White House and Congress have refused to acknowledge such facts sent by many experts and those who have suffered the consequences.

    And main stream society thinks this is a great humane thing to do until they have a problem like grieving too long for a loved on and are stigmatized as “mentally ill.”

    – Ayn Rand

    REMEMBER?

    “First They Came for the Jews”
    By Pastor Niemoller

    “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” – Ayn Rand

    First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    IT IS HAPPENING AGAIN.
    IN FACT, IT NEVER STOPPED.

    Though I am not a fan of Ayn Rand for obvious reasons, the above quotation is quite apt.

  6. As of right now i have a hard time contributing to MIA simply b/c i see a lack of programmatic action to stopping these quacks (which is an apt definition), who know the harm they are causing, from killing and maiming. You have analysis which is good, alternatives to the current model which is necessary, but you are essentially telling me the same thing everyday through horror stories and study’s that bio-psyc is bad. I know this and so does everyone else who has been through the system. When do we make a list of demands to psychiatry and the wider medical community? Every time a child is put on an SSRI it’s a crime! Every time a child is put on a antipsychotic it’s a crime! Can we get away from behind our computers and start letting our presence be known? I think a legitimate question we should all ask ourselves is how many lives has this site helped/saved and how can we save more? How can we not only help people get off drugs, but prevent people from getting caught in this racket in the first place? I feel like people are fine with saying their little piece on this site and then go back to Dancing With the Stars. Please tell me i’m wrong.

    • One person can make a difference.
      Everyone should try.

      Start where you are.
      Use what you have.
      Do what you can.

      Scott, change begins as a seed of possibility in individual hearts and minds that another way is out there. MIA is a beacon of light that if you find that you are helplessly trapped in by psychiatry and its required meds: 1. you are not alone, 2. you have other options, and 3. you have a centralized place to start building the knowledge base and personalized supports you need to make your break from meds if you so seek to do so.

      You might not see a year of MIA as a big enough presence or as much engine for change as you might like, but try and find anything so comprehensive and accessible like it past or present. It stands alone in fulfilling an unrecognized need for true dialogue and informed consent around all things psychiatry.

      MIA is well worth supporting.

      (p.s. I don’t know about you but my involvement here has translated into actions in the real world, though I’m not at liberty to put further details here.)

      • MIA is the one thing that keeps me going in the job that I have at a state hospital. I feel like the French must have when they worked in the French Underground and Resistance. I watch terrible things being done each and every day that I’m there and I can’t do anything about it. I have hopes of doing something about it in the future but as of right now must walk a very thin tightrope in a state that knows nothing about alternative treatments to the toxic drugs. We’re ten years behind where everyone else is and we’re proud of it! As one lone peer worker I have no power right now. I do speak out and write about freedom of choice for “patients” and about making people into permanent patients as we speak about “recovery.” But I come here to MIA and find articles and posts that I continue to send on to the desk of the Director of Clinical Services, who is my supervisor. I can’t give much on my limited salary, but will give something. Thanks for being the “voice crying out in the wilderness.”

        • When my son was hospitalized for ten days in Oct, ’09 for a first “psychotic event” just after his 23rd b- day, NO ONE helped my son realize there were alternative treatments beside the massive drugging he was given ON TOP of a chemical substance his toxicology report showed which I now realize just added more assault to his poor brain. The psych staff has the connection with the families since the cowardly p- docs hide from any human guidance they should be providing the pt and family desperate for direction. I believe the staff, some at least, would have directed us to thinking outside mainstream psychiatry IF they had known what I discovered only by chance when my search for answers post my sons’s death led me to RW’s book, and ultimately to MIA. I believe there are MANY like you working in the inhumane psych locked units that my son voluntarily agreed to enter who can speak the truth. I ask you to band together, there are others who are also waking up that HELP with compassion, desire to understand what precipitated a person’s break is vitally important ( and the substances used prior a HUGE factor). I salute you for being brave enough to explore the truth about mainstream psychiatry. I recently contacted my son’s psychologist who once he met my son questioned the dx ” mentally ill” ” bipolar for life” ” meds for life” but the brainwashing and stigma the psych hospital and out- pt p- docs dx overwhelmed my son, not to mention his insurance reaffirmed the dx by tracking him, sending literature ” how to live with bipolar”. YOU have more power to help the poor patient and families at the mercy believing the drug paradigm of care is the answer. Thank you for trying to educte your supv, sad, as it should be the other way around. Just stand in the truth as I do. We are each ” one lone peer worker” or me, a lone parent, but together we have a voice! Let us roar!!

          • Thank you for the words of support. There are two of us in the hospital and we’re trying to form a department which will eventually hire more peer workers. But, because we’re working as part of the state Department of Human Services money is tight and you almost have to play poker with certain administrators in the Dept. for slots for employment. But we’re working on it! Yes, we will roar loudly one of these days!

  7. The pop-up worked! Glad to support the site!

    Also, in brief response to Scott Miller’s suggestion that there is not a clear pragmatic (programmatic) effort to “stop the quacks” – I think it is a fair characterization to make that many of the individuals who post on these pages (both in blogs and comments) are spending huge portions of their professional and personal lives actively challenging the medical model and creating support for alternatives. To my knowledge, writing here on MIA is not all that these folks do…they go to meetings, they write letters, they talk to families and survivors, they respond to mistruths in media, they create their own media, they hold community groups, they organize conferences and conduct research, etc.

    It sounds like you are making a call for more cohesive and strategic organizing around these issues?
    That’s a pretty good call to make.

    Has anyone ever done a blogpost about how to get involved in change-making efforts re: psychiatric human rights? How to contribute to the movement or build awareness locally?

    • Which is great, and everyone who has the time and resources to help those that have been hurt by psychiatry have a responsibility to do so. Nevertheless, what are MIA’s concrete, core beliefs? What are we working towards? What are our goals? How are we trying to achieve those goals? Is this strategy working? If some random person were to ask me what does MIA stand for and what is it doing i wouldn’t know how to answer them. We need to be working towards something concrete at this point. Why are we always on the defensive against an opponent who has not a single shred of credibility? If MIA were god for a day, what would we change? I don’t view psychiatry as this all powerful behemoth but a crumbling edifice that is scared. A serious campaign to stop the drugging of children would actually hit them where it hurts and, i would assume, be able to unite the disparate factions on this site and the reform community.

  8. Oh, please, let’s do what each of us can to support MIA. If I could have found this site before my son’s needless death 15 months ago, I believe he could have been given the HOPE that the psych hospital and psychiatrists stripped him of from the moment he voluntarily agreed to enter. If I could replay for the world the two voice messages my son left on our landline, from the second day he was kept in a locked ward with his clear, sounding upbeat voice to several days later when he was so massively drugged where it is impossible to discern the message he was trying to leave, I believe many of you would mourn with me. And with a
    positive toxicology report as a likely cause of his psychotic state, completely dismissed by the ” experts”. Please let’s fight the assault on our liberties so one day I believe , young and old alike, that present with an emotional ” crisis ” will be treated humanely and guided back to a place of healing where recovery is not just a possibility but a reality. I’m adding my voice to this movement in memory of my precious, handsome, kind- hearted son who was robbed of the life he always lived to its fullest because this sick mental health system labeled and brainwashed him “mentally ill for life”. ” I have a dream” as MLK said.

    • larmac, I feel for you in relation to loosing your son, but am also incredibly amazed that a parent can have the common sense to see that the system killed him, and not some fictional underlying brain disease, which is so what the system tries to make out. Unfortunately your son is one of way too many who die at the hands of a system that is supposedly set up to protect us. Like many of us, he voluntarily entered a system he believed was going to help and heal him, and that instead tortured and ultimately killed him. I often wonder how it was that I made it out of the system alive. I do know that I was only half the person I was when I entered and in many ways I felt as though I had been killed.

  9. Hi, Matthew,
    Payment system glitch.
    Since I hardly buy newspapers anymore and I try to read my magazines in waiting rooms, I am delighted to make a yearly contribution to keeping MIA afloat. There’s just one problem, though, and that’s the drop-down box. It doesn’t work for foreign countries. I sent you a more detailed e-mail that shows the message that I received. Will try again in a day or so to see if the problem’s fixed.
    …Rossa

  10. Hi Matt,
    Relying on readers for financial support is a good model to have. It is unfortunate that you cannot not adopt a non-profit form, though I understand an LLC might have practical advantages. If there is a non-profit mission, MIA is one. Hopefully when MIA’s survival is more financially secure, you will be able to become legally non-profit. It is a political statement in a society where money rules.

    I have to confess that I have not contributed before but have just been shamed into doing so. 🙂 We’re big NPR listeners at home. We switch channels when they have their drives but we do send in a check every year. I think regularly reminding the community to contribute – every individual within their means – is necessary.

    I join all the other comments expressing thanks to you, Kermit and all those giving time and labor to MIA. Your expectations for MIA’s future are not misplaced.