We have always conceived of Mad in America as a forum for a community to come together and “rethink” psychiatry and its current paradigm of care. This past year was our first operating as a 501c3, and the support we received from our readers and from charitable foundations has reinforced and strengthened this sense of our mission. As such, we thought it would be useful to briefly review how we expanded our operations in the past year, and detail our ambitions for 2017.
Highlights of 2016
When we started Mad in America in 2011, we created a “front page” that was modeled after a three-column newspaper front. That format had grown worn out, and thus we decided to redesign our site in 2016, with the intention of adopting a web magazine format that could better feature an array of news, blogs, drug info, educational courses, initiatives, and video reports.
We hired an outside design group to help us with this task, with the implementation guided by our operations manager Chris Page. We launched the redesign in early October, and now strive to publish a summary of a research finding every weekday, and to publish at least five new blogs each week. The fruit of this redesign is already being seen in increased readership numbers, particularly since Yahoo now frequently highlights our blogs and research summaries. All total, in 2016 we had 1.6 million unique visitors, who viewed 3.6 million pages.
We also redesigned our MIA Continuing Education website and decided to make all of these lectures free, with the hope that we can support this effort through voluntary donations. The number of people signing up for the courses has increased dramatically following this redesign, with more than 600 having done so in the last 10 weeks.
Strengthening our reviews of scientific findings
We now have a team of Ph.D. students in clinical psychology at UMASS Boston, working under the direction of Justin Karter, who provide us with summaries of research findings five times a week. This team has also contributed to the drug-info resources on MIA, as they recently completed surveys of research studies related to withdrawal from different classes of psychiatric drugs.
MIA global affiliates
In 2016, two affiliate Mad in America sites were launched. A collective in Spain, composed of professionals and people with lived experience, created Madinamerica—Hispanohablante for readers in Spain and throughout Central and South America. Mad in Brasil was founded by Paulo Amarante and Fernando de Freitas, both of whom have been leaders in Brazilian mental health for years.
Our Goals for 2017
We have set our sights on a very concrete goal in 2017: We want to develop the resources to do our own reporting on mental health topics. This will involve commissioning print articles and conducting an ambitious video project, which will seek to give voice to the voiceless: youth in the foster care system, graduates of the foster care system, and others who are in the psychiatric system but rarely heard from. In addition, we want this journalistic effort to feature reports on alternative approaches that are being developed and are producing good results.
In 2017, we expect to hold live webinars for the first time (in place of simply filming guest lectures). We intend to promote these lectures to a wide audience; our executive director, Bob Nikkel, is making outreach to provider agencies a priority in 2017.
Building up our resources
We will continue to improve our resources in this way:
- This past week, we launched a directory of providers who will work with people interested in tapering from psychiatric medications.
- We will publish papers on the long-term effects of antidepressants and stimulants. (In 2016, we published a similar paper on antipsychotics.)
- In the next two months, we expect to launch a section on drug-withdrawal resources and also a section on alternative resources for parents. This latter resource will be developed by Eric Maisel.
- We expect to broaden our roster of bloggers. Deron Drumm is now serving as an editor for bloggers devoted to holistic psychiatry; Olga Runciman is serving as a roving global editor, recruiting, in particular, leaders in psychiatric survivor movements in Europe and beyond to write for MIA.
We also have a few editorial changes to announce.
Kermit Cole and Louisa Putnam will head our video journalism project in 2017. Kermit has served as the managing editor of Mad in America since its inception in 2011, but now will become an “editor-at-large,” directing this video project, while continuing to contribute to the editing of blogs.
Emmeline Mead, who has been our editor for personal stories, will become our managing editor. As such, she will have editorial responsibility for both personal stories, blogs, and initiatives.
Emily Cutler will begin working as our front page editor in the next week. In this role, she will help manage the blogs section, and our social media efforts.
Hana Valle will continue as our moderator.
A Thank You to Our Supporters
A 2016 financial report for Mad in American Foundation can be found here. As 2016 was our first as a 501c3, we operated in a very cautious manner, intent on making certain that we would enter 2017 with funds to support our operations through the first six months of the year. We accomplished that goal, and now have our sights set on raising the funds needed to expand our operations in 2017, and in particular, needed to support our original journalism efforts.
We have been moved by the support from our readers during this past year. We want to thank everyone who contributed to Mad in America Foundation in 2016, and hope that you will continue to support us in 2017.