Since the invention of the printing press, community-controlled publications have enabled the voices of those with little power in society to be heard. Gandhi said that without a journal, a community could not be united.
Asylum magazine is a printed magazine, in existence since 1986, which provides a place where alternative voices in mental health can be heard. The magazine is a forum for free debate about psychiatry and mental health, to which anyone is welcome to contribute – whether their knowledge comes from personal or professional experience (or both). In printing these perspectives, Asylum magazine challenges us to question what promotes mental health and provides a mechanism to help bring about social change.
I have been a reader of Asylum magazine for 12 years and have appreciated the critical perspectives it has covered over this time. A year and a half ago I was invited to join the Editorial Collective, which I gladly accepted. The Collective work together ‘in a spirit of equality’ and our role is wider than a conventional editorial board – we are also involved in encouraging participation from a wide range of individuals and groups, and in linking with others working for social change. For example, in January 2012, members of the Asylum magazine Collective went to speak at the Occupy camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London. There we discussed the links between the concerns of the anti-capitalist protestors and those involved in radical mental health.
More recently, Collective members have organised public debates around mental health, and had stalls about Asylum magazine at events ranging from an Anarchist bookfair to a mainstream Public Health conference! Supporters of Asylum magazine have also taken Asylum magazines onto psychiatric wards enabling the patients there to have access to different perspectives regarding mental health.
Asylum magazine receives no funding from pharmaceutical companies, government or mental health services. Instead, we support ourselves through subscriptions and sales of the magazine. I believe this stance is very important as it enables us to maintain our independence.
Many people who want to challenge the status quo in the mental health system write to Asylum magazine and have their accounts published. By publishing these accounts, Asylum magazine can enable these voices to be heard, for others to gain a sense of community and solidarity, and to help facilitate collective action to bring about positive change in mental health. To find out more or get involved, visit the Asylum magazine website: http://www.asylumonline.net/