In the late seventies and early eighties, the formation of what would become “anti-stigma” campaigns began to take shape as organizations came together with the goal of education and advocacy around mental health struggles. During this time, NAMI was founded by two mothers responding to a lack of service for those struggling with intense emotional experiences, which they defined as “mental illness.” It has been almost forty years since these mothers met in Wisconsin and started an organization that would go on to be an effective instrument of big pharmacy, developing alongside other organizations operating on “awareness” and “anti-stigma” campaigns. Around two years ago, one of these modern organizations, a national nonprofit group called Active Minds, came to play a defining role in my life.
This group tackles the various issues surrounding mental health on college campuses. Active Minds was officially founded in 2003, but its roots began in the year 2000 when Brian Malmon, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, completed suicide. His sister, Alison, recognized that extreme emotional experiences were not being discussed on college campuses; she noted that Brian hid his extreme experiences from everyone around him. Determined to start a conversation on mental health, Alison launched the organization.
Thirteen years later, Active Minds has 440 chapters across college campuses. These chapters operate on the mission of “spreading awareness on mental illness” through education, advocacy, and referral to treatment. They sponsor events such as Send Silence Packing, a suicide awareness event in which backpacks are placed across campuses (an event that very well may be a sensationalizing medium contributing to suicide contagion). They have a Speaker’s Bureau, comprised of fifteen speakers that all have unique experiences in dealing with various struggles. Other events include Eating Disorders Awareness Week, an Emerging Scholars Program, and a National Conference, as well as myriad resources for all chapters.
For two years, I served as president of the Active Minds chapter at Westfield State University, a quaint and homey campus in Western Massachusetts. I had come into contact with the organization when, after years and years of rock-bottom self-esteem, endless self-deprecation and suicidal thoughts on a daily basis, I was introduced to the concept of ‘mental illness.’ According to this model, my consistent sorrow and non-stop uneasiness were due to ‘chemical imbalances’ in my brain. Initially, my diagnoses were extremely validating, as I no longer felt like I was at fault for my extreme emotions.
For the next few years, I cycled through Celexa, Zoloft, Klonopin, and Abilify. The side effects exposed themselves differently, sometimes manifesting as slight nausea that would keep me from eating, and sometimes being unbearable, such as an instance of akathisia so intense that I had to leave class to endure one of my most frightening panic attacks in a bathroom stall. I settled on a 225 milligram extended release Effexor pill for nearly two years, side effects bearable.
I was inspired to finally make my mark in the world. I switched to a Psychology major with the intention of becoming a therapist. I founded Active Minds at Westfield State and ardently advocated on my campus and in the community. I wanted people to know that they were not alone. I felt great pride in building an organization that, in increasing numbers as time passed, addressed struggle in a way that I was never able to outside of a therapist’s office. So many folks seemed to mirror my solace in this medium. These conversations needed to happen.
We had so many open discussions about the struggles that college can entail. Relationships, both platonic and romantic, begin to transform and often grow complicated as we learn more about ourselves. Academics and athletics call for an often unattainable perfection. There are abundant pressures to consume copious amounts of alcohol. Rape culture allows constant sexualization and sexual assault on campuses, with rape as the most under-reported crime in college populations. Food can be an enemy in a world where body image is so stressed and the ideal look is through such a narrow scope. Roommate situations can get horribly messy. The list goes on and on.
As I inched closer to graduation, my Psychology Practicum required an internship. At Westfield State’s health fair, our Active Minds chapter hosted a table close to the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community. Their table grabbed my attention with a striking image of a beat-up boot with flowers in it. I was told that the WMRLC was a community where folks supported one another through mutuality and genuine relationships, with no clinical staff and no assumption of illness. I was welcomed into the community for my internship; it introduced me to so many folks who had been through the mental health system. I had expected a further affirmation of my beliefs, but I was introduced to an entire world of the system that I had not known.
Active Minds states on its website that “treatment is effective and available,” and since I had found parts of the system that had worked for me, I automatically believed this to be true. The first question on the FAQ section of the Active Minds website refers those who need “immediate help” to the National Suicide Hotline and crisis centers. I never experienced such phone calls during my own times of deep distress, but with my internship (and eventual employment) at WMRLC, I was introduced to the consequences of calling these resources.
Forced hospitalization (Section 12 in MA) is often the traumatic result of calling crisis services, which is so frequently the referral given by friends and family in times of distress. This allows folks to be held indefinitely against their will, and the opportunity to exist in a healing environment diminishes after this. One common result is seclusion, in which those in locked units are forced into isolation which has fairly obvious detrimental effects. Restraint also occurs, frequently leading to injury and sometimes death, much of which is unreported. Injury can come in physical, mechanical, or chemical form, the last stemming from medication that does far more harm than good in the long term. Hospitals are not trauma-sensitive in so many ways, and evidently can be the cause of widespread and lasting emotional pain.
After learning what accepting the medical model of struggle as illness entailed, I became extremely skeptical. The more I talked to folks who had experienced these very real circumstances, the more I began to reflect on my time with Active Minds. I looked on the website, searching for more details of the exact mission of the organization and the resources that it provided.
There are zero references to the details of the potential results of calling Crisis, or to the abundant horrors of involuntary commitment. There are zero references to medication, suggesting blind trust in a referral process that often causes great pain and harm. The organization claims to run on a mission of spreading awareness, so where are the references to the dangers of antidepressants, benzodiazepines, stabilizers, antipsychotics, and other medications that are a very real part of receiving counseling services, treatment or hospitalization? Do they have no obligation to mention the risks?
How can such a major part of the system be ignored? When I asked Ms. Malmon about this, she avoided the question, stating that “Active Minds does not advertise any specific area of treatment,” even though I only hinted at providing objective resources and alternatives that have been helpful to many folks. So, what gives? Why not speak about some of the most pressing issues within the mental health system that are hurting numerous people on a daily basis?
One possible answer brings us back to where similar organizations and campaigns to decrease the “stigma” of mental illness started. In the 1960s, psychiatry began to lose its merit due to books such as Thomas Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness which revealed the bad science behind psychiatric drugs. Szasz observed that while the nebulous science behind the theory of chemical imbalances did not add up, extreme emotional responses to life’s inherent struggles were the root of what is often diagnosed as mental illness. This resulted in the rise of the antipsychiatry movement, unintentionally precipitating swift action from the profitable psychiatric industry in order to save itself.
The American Psychiatric Association quickly published the DSM-III, adding significant numbers of psychiatric diagnoses that used an arbitrary amount of subjective, often self-reported symptoms to diagnose someone as ill. Loren Mosher’s Soteria project, a house without antipsychotics in which non-clinical staff provided companionship, was defunded as Mosher was ousted from psychiatry. Despite its evident success, it was not within the medical model, and so this alternative method of healing was quelled.
Most relevant to this article, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), caught up within the incestuous relationship between the American Psychiatric Association and pharmaceutical companies, founded an awareness campaign titled “Depression Recognition, Awareness, and Treatment” (DART). Pharmaceutical companies funded this campaign, providing “educational” resources that the NIMH would run for years. Through this campaign, outside organizations that bought the opaque science behind the medical model were initiated, and organizations that aimed to spread the message began to appear, the first of which was the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) in 1979. The APA teamed up with NAMI, and as a result, NIMH funding rose 84% during the 1980s (these developments are outlined in Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic).
Since then, NAMI has received an absolutely astronomical amount of money from the pharmaceutical industry. With pharmacy’s bad science pushed forward by organizations that presumably believed they were engaging in beneficial campaigns, much as I did while president of the Active Minds chapter at my college, the medical model grew more popular than ever.
Since the 1980s, the amount of mental health diagnoses (and ensuing disability numbers) in this country has exponentially skyrocketed. Some argue that this is due to the decrease in stigma over the years; maybe since we are evolving into a more accepting society, those diagnosed are more comfortable talking about their struggles, and the data reflects this? Perhaps, though, the artificial agenda of big pharma precisely planned that this would be the case by funding organizations like NAMI and similar groups.
Why not reduce the stigma surrounding struggle by moving towards a society that is more accepting of traumatic experiences and extreme emotions, rather than asking people to “own an illness” that does not have scientific validity behind it? The only difference this holds, aside from arbitrary diagnosis, is that pharmaceutical companies are raking in exorbitant profits.
Active Minds is not NAMI. However, the two groups have worked together, as well as with the Jed Foundation, whose founder and CEO is heavily tied to big pharma. Kelly Cox, the Vice Chairwoman of the Active Minds Board of Directors, works for Johnson and Johnson, which absorbed Janssen Pharmaceuticals, known for falsifying their marketing of psych drugs. The Active Minds National Advisory Committee is chalk full of big names from psychiatry, including chairman Steven Lerman, who has donated to the Treatment Advocacy Center, an organization that tirelessly advocates for forced treatment using tactics such as highlighting false statistical relationships between mental health diagnoses and violence. Active Minds has apparently taken money or sponsorships from Eli Lilly and Astrazeneca, pharmaceutical firms that have hidden adverse drug effects through bad data time and time again.
While Active Minds does not haul in money from drug companies the way similar “mental illness advocacy” organizations do, the aforementioned ties to pharmaceutical companies, including an entire framework around medical model language, certainly leave much room for a pecuniary relationship to exponentially grow between the two. Financial ties are already there, so who is to say that Active Minds won’t propel itself into the next NAMI? If there is little attention given to what happens after referral to treatment now, what would it look like then? Would it look more like the Treatment Advocacy Center’s website?
There are so many folks, both within Active Minds leadership and throughout chapters, who want to talk about the broader emotional context and experiences that contribute to so much suffering and struggle in this world. In our weekly meetings at Westfield State, we did discuss diagnoses and ran events that were sponsored by organizations that were heavily tied to big pharma, but our favorite parts really seemed to come from when we simply talked about what was going on in our lives. We did not need to talk about “illness” to do this.
Discussing our times of extreme emotion and what mattered to us the most was not pathologizing; it was humanizing. At the end of each of our meetings, we would talk about the best points of our day. After everyone had left and I packed up my bag, I felt relieved that I had the support and love of those around me. Even Ms. Malmon stated in our conversation that Active Minds members do often become friends through working together, and that it was perfectly okay that chapters took this intimate mold as relationships grew stronger.
Why do conversations about the difficulties behind the experience of living as a human being always have to turn to the medical model to find validity? Why not take pride in our humanity, extreme sadness and despair included? The medical model is so ingrained in our world that it is often difficult to fully take in this point of view, but at the very least, shouldn’t alternative resources be available? Shouldn’t Active Minds talk about the Hearing Voices Network, Alternatives to Suicide groups, the Icarus Project, and other alternative resources as well as traditional ones? Shouldn’t we know what we are getting into when we are calling Crisis? Shouldn’t we know what our medications might do to us?
Ms. Malmon and the rest of the Active Minds crew may want to look at these resources with rose-tinted lenses, but people who have traveled the rocky paths of Crisis and hospitalization have had their lives turned upside down repeatedly. As we accept the medical model more and more, this will presumably only worsen.
When I was struggling, I was ready to believe anything, and I think this principle applies much more widely than myself — especially for those who have not spent time inside the walls of psychiatric hospitals. Active Minds allows college students to start conversations on some of the most difficult struggles we face in life, but it’s important to realize that the medical model is limited in scope and harms many who seek treatment for these struggles.
I urge the organization to lead the conversation away from bad science and towards the common struggles that we endure as human beings — or, at the very least, to include alternate resources and far more transparent information around psychiatric medications. If they don’t, other groups such as NAMI, ADAA, AFSP and the Jed Foundation, even with handfuls of caring, well-intentioned staff, will not. Psychiatry certainly will not. We have a better chance of growing wings than of pharmaceutical companies stepping up to reveal the long-term harm that their products cause.
So, Active Minds, please: take the next step and change the conversation. The new generations of psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, mental patients, and human beings so desperately need the truth that money has effectively quelled for so, so long.
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Although the contents of the article were no surprise, I did accidentally find out why Loren Mosher allowed himself to be one the titled heads of a biased, poorly done, but widely publicized, pseudo study of the old time megavitamin therapy in 1973 in New Jersey (after Humphry Osmond had gone to Alabama). He was trying to get back into the APA fold, after being ostracized for the Soteria fiasco.
I guess you haven’t read Loren Mosher’s resignation letter from the APA? http://www.narpa.org/mosher.htm
Unwilling to have his dues to the APA used for attacks on him, Abram Hoffer also dripped out of the APA around the same time. I don’t know if he bothered with a resignation letter. Despite his letter, Loren Mosher was certainly enthusiastic about the niacin study in which he was a co-author. It was pretty APA of him to insist it was properly done, but then he never took any niacin himself, to realize its effects, which was actually also pretty APA of him.
As of May 30, 2017, the link you provided returns a 404 Error – page not found.
Why do you call Soteria a “fiasco?”
Who, me? Remember my biases, Steve. Although I don’t remember calling Soteria a fiasco, I’m also familiar with true biologically based treatments (sans drugs) that are effective for the schiz. syndrome. I also know Mosher got shut down by Soteria’s neighbors, who were spooked by sudden elopers (I do know the psych meaning of that term) suddenly entering the community on the run. To me, mainstream psychiatry isn’t using a medical model, but a muddled model, with elements of the impaired (“you’ll never get well”…) and moral models (pathologizing behaviors one doesn’t like). This may seem pedantic, but I’d suggest you read Models of Madness, Models of Medicine, by Miriam Siegler and Humphry Osmond. As my copy’s print date is 1976, it may be hard to find, but it really helps to clarify a subject of controversy among the bloggers.
Tried to engage my mother in a philosophical discussion about whether morality is hereditary or not. From what I can tell, mainstream psychiatry promotes this view in order to enforce med compliance and subjugation of those they deem genetically immoral. Unfortunately all Mom did was snort, seeming to imply that this conclusion was stupid. Not sure why she thinks this; Dad was more willing to listen.
Great article, Danny. Thanks for coming in here. I have gone through similar experiences to you in questioning and moving away from mainstream views.
I have done a lot of questioning of the “illness like any other” model myself. I find people are often threatened by it being questioned, and also cannot imagine that what they have been told about the causes of their distress might be so mistaken (i.e. it’s embarrassing and disturbing to even consider how far off the mark the explanations many people are given about, for example, schizophrenia, are).
Please check out a few resources that are not drug-company funded and which question mainstream diagnoses:
Drop the Disorder – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1182483948461309/
ISPS and its forum – http://isps-us.org/ and groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/isps
ISEPP and its forum – http://psychintegrity.org/ and https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/psychintegrity/info
Questioning the disease model and talking about difficult experiences is the norm on these forums… as it is here.
Occasionally I try to talk to mainstream online psych forums in a way that questions the medical model, and often it has very mixed results; for example here – https://forums.psychcentral.com/schizophrenia-psychosis/466042-interview-psychologist-lloyd-ross-treating-schizophrophrenia.html
But I was encouraged because when I shared these views around the internet recently, only one forum out of many banned me, and that is a forum that is committed to telling people they have a brain disease and have to take drugs.
I think people are hungry to hear other more hopeful views than the brain disease and have to take drugs one.
Matt, I’m really glad to hear that you found some receptive forums. I think that it’s always important to be able to look at the way that you view the world critically. It’s difficult to change views that are deeply ingrained; I remember being astounded the first time someone told me that they didn’t believe in the chemical imbalance theory. But that type of critical presence, both in discussion boards and in real life, is necessary for finding truth, even if it causes some heated conversations. Thanks for the read, and for the resources!
Danny, thanks so much for writing this important piece! I’m so glad you had the opportunity to learn about non-illness ways of looking at distress and that you have so articulately expressed this for others who have only heard illness explanations!
Thanks again Darby! I’m glad, too. It’s made such a difference in the way I interact with others in my life, and myself.
Danny, all Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Healing are is the survivors of abuse, now abusing each other. I am not sure what your active minds group does, trying to get some sense of it. But of course we should never be encouraging anyone to identify with the mental health system in any way. Rather, we should be fighting to hold the perpetrators accountable, and we should never be seeking or accepting pity.
The mental health system as we have it now is part of the resurgence of eugenics. It is driven by economics.
We need to organize and act, following the example of the Black Panthers.
Stop helping the mental health system, please join, and your posts will never be censored:
Poetry for Personal has completed 139 Resilience Messaging Events in the last year. We initially started by working with student organizations including Active Minds. We found that those chapters would host lousy events. Their marketing was all disease model, and the only thing people wanted to talk about was their mental health labels. And the events were tiny. We started working with Black Student Unions and NAACP student chapters and the events got 10 times bigger. We started focusing on “overcoming adversity” and took all mention of mental illness off our marketing materials. That’s when we really started reducing stigma.
All the disease monger slogans tend to avoid actual science. Ie, you can’t reduce stigma with protest based campaigns, ie, saying, “let’s fight stigma together.” And on and on.
Gaining traction by removing a pathological framework from your marketing aligns quite well with the point that we don’t need to be labeled “sick” to define that which causes struggle and despair. I’d love to hear more about Poetry for Personal; I’m having trouble finding it online! Thanks for the comment.
Please don’t hate us cause we’re crazy/unpredictable/dangerous. We can’t help it our brains are hopelessly screwed up and we have rotten genes. We’ll take all our “meds” exactly as prescribed…we love our labels…see what good insight we have! 😛
I daresay this approach might help you get gigs for the APA and similar organizations. For some reason it doesn’t work with the general public.
you can’t reduce stigma with protest based campaigns, ie, saying, “let’s fight stigma together.”
Totally agree. “Stigma” is built into the notion of “mental illness”; you can’t “fight” the former without eliminating the latter.
Allison Malmon founded Active Minds after her brother killed himself. She declared that he died because of the stigma of mental illness.
I cannot say why he died. I know only that he did.
I can say she believes it was because of “the stigma” of mental illnesses.
That belief may have killed him. I do not doubt the power of a belief in stigma to kill. That is why I foster no such belief.
Thanks for the comment. I’m a bit confused by your last three sentences, what exactly do you mean by “the power of a belief in stigma to kill?”
Believing in a stigma directs behaviors. See WWII, how far that belief can carry someone.
Believing in a stigma directs behaviors. See rape/stigma and the history of behaviors it precipitated.
See the history of mental health.
Believing in stigma prevented achieving all the progress that has been made in addressing other illnesses, precipitated all the negative behaviors that followed.
Belief in stigma continues to precipitate those behaviors. People continue to precipitate a belief in stigma, some through very organized channels, and though not one negative act can be traced to one individual uttering that prejudice, the term has no other purpose than to harm.
Actually I believe in the stigma of mental illness though not mental illness itself. Stigma is an intense feeling of shame or a perception of being in disgrace in the eyes of the community.
I no longer deal with the former, but I’ll be plagued by the latter till my dying day. Damn the Mental Illness factory!
Sorry you believe in it. That means you believe in the people who direct it. They would like you to do that. It gives them power.
I believe stigma exists–or, if you like, extreme bigotry. It certainly is wrong and inaccurate. The people who more or less consciously promote it under the pretext of helping their victims are despicable. Unfortunately they are rich and powerful. If we could vaporize them by denying their existence, some mass hypnosis might be worth trying.
I believe stigma exists–or, if you like, extreme bigotry.
Exactly — that’s what “stigma” amounts to — other people’s bigotry against the psychiatrically labeled. It is fostered by the label itself, not anything real.
That you believe is all that is necessary to those who want you to believe. So long as the belief is in you it has life.
I don’t believe in the stigma of mental illness. What I do believe in is the extreme and socially sanctioned discrimination against people with these diagnoses. If you apply for a job in a federal agency or one with federal funding, you have to fill out a disability identification form where nearly 40% of the listed “disabilities” are psych diagnoses. I’ve been asked about my mental health status when renewing my driver’s license in two states. Before the ACA, a friend was denied insurance because of her “pre-existing condition” of depression, for which she was briefly treated after her husband left her several years previously. Any organization like NAMI that brands some people “consumers” while allowing much of its own leadership to live under-the-radar as “patients” is incapable of ending “stigma” because stigma is part of its own DNA.
Very well said. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the denial of insurance to your friend. The discrimination against diagnoses are real; on top of the DMV and doctor’s office, it peaks its head in the criminal justice and educational systems, as well as in myriad social situations.
I’ve got a dog in this race (two teens) so was interested to read. ‘Active Minds’ is clearly not going to change its own ‘mind’ or anyone’s ‘conversation’ because it depends on industry dollars. I’ll make sure my kids stay away from it just as I counsel them to give a wide berth to anything like that in the schools.
One of my kids announced today that his school will be hosting a compulsory psychosis ‘information’ film this week, so I clicked all over (loads of ‘mental health’ so-called ‘non-profits’) to see what’s behind it. Looks like the same old sewage pipeline from pharma-to-government-health-policy-to-national-physican-guild-to-family-physicians and in this case straight from government into schools.
I explain to my kids about the doublespeak of the now-ubiquitous ‘no stigma’ message, and tell them to avoid ‘mental health’ hotlines, message boards, and teen ‘peer helpers’ they have at schools now.
It’s a BigPharma jungle out there since they’re hunting for new markets!
What irks me the most is that this process exploits folks (apparently younger kids, too) who are either curious about helping others, or who are struggling themselves. I think resources that promote financial transparency and valid, empirical data should be as abundant as these anti-stigma resources. Money buys too much truth is this world. I hope that you’re wrong; I hope that conversations like this will snowball and cause traditional organizations to provide both traditional and alternative resources. Thanks for the comment.
Hehe, you know, Danny, you’re taking it easy on NAMI. The gorgons who founded that hate group knew EXACTLY what they were doing. Their goal was to create a psychiatric system that was powerful enough to last forever, so that their “loved ones” would be imprisoned in it for life, and never, EVER recover. I’m sure you’ve noticed that NAMI, Active Minds, TAC, etc. are all focused on *treatment compliance*, rather than outcomes. As you’ve written, the medical model of psychiatry produces shit outcomes, whereas the social model of psychiatry is a big (and “bigly” ignored) success. And advocates of that pseudoscience WILL NOT recognize the benefits of quitting or limiting mainstream psychiatric “treatment”. They know that if they do, they’ll soon be forced to field the next logical question: “Could a good environment prevent “mental illness”, if a bad environment caused “mental illness”?”. So, we’ll likely fail at most of our efforts to change the quacks and the schizophrenogenic families. Whether any of those “advocates” change, your article is valuable. It’s preserving Mad people’s receptivity to GENUINE support and REPUTABLE clinicians. Thank you so much for writing it!
Thanks for the comment, J. This is very insightful; you know, you’re not the first one to tell me that I’m too easy on organizations that have been in tight-knit relationships with big pharma. I think that’s partly a product of my privilege of never being locked away against my will. Do you have any literature that I could read up on to support these malevolent intentions from the early days of NAMI? I’d be very interested to read.
I hope that our efforts to be more inclusive and accessible don’t fail. Treatment compliance isn’t aligned with any humanistic perspective. I’m amazed at the rose-tinted lenses that the method is observed through. Thanks for your words, they mean a lot!
—-Do you have any literature that I could read up on to support these malevolent intentions from the early days of NAMI? I’d be very interested to read.
How much more malevolent can an organization get than to insist there is a stigma to mental illnesses?
While other advocacies have as their motto, “race for the cure”, NAMI continues to insist there is a stigma to mental illnesses, and its mantra, “reduce the stigma”, says it wants to keep some.
Or at least that the bigotry is legitimate. 🙁
Perhaps malevolent. Should any NFP be cooperating in growing the market?
Excerpted from the page of NAMI’s 2000 990 entitled, “Guidelines for the Relationship between NAMI and the Campaign’s Founding Sponsors” which included:
II. Providers, health plans, and pharmaceutical companies want to grow their markets and to increase their share of the market.
A. NAMI will cooperate with these entities to “grow the market” by making persons aware of the issues involving severe brain disorders, by giving professionals and providers the NAMI perspective, by bringing into treatment persons who are not being served, and by helping persons to adhere to their treatment plans.
(Quotation marks were not added. They appeared in the original text.)
Thanks for this, Joe. They’ve been less than subtle with these connections to big pharma. I suppose what I was referring to in the original question to J was if there was anything cited from the early days from NAMI, where its founders stated intentions that weren’t along the likes of “we care about our sons!”
Thanks so much for writing this, Danny. It’s been great to see how it’s developed from an idea into reality. It’s a strong piece. 🙂
Thanks Sera!! Your wisdom is always on my shoulder. Thanks for all your help and guidance.
This is SO well done! I’m so excited about it, quite frankly. I’m a big- time, iatrogenic drug fall out psych survivor. My CNS has had relative health now for maybe only a year. I started social work grad school at Salem State University this fall in MA. I know they have a NAMI chapter, but I wasn’t sure about Active Minds/ never heard of them.. sure enough they are on the list. You better believe I’m posting this article on our social work program page.
I’ve been thinking/would love to start a counter organization at the school that’s ‘Anti-psychiatry’/ like minded or what not. Do you have any input?
Thanks for the read. I appreciate you opening up about your story, and for sharing this to the social work page! I’m interested in the reaction to that. I’ve had some people at various schools try to organize around anti-psychiatry, and it’s certainly been tough. Colleges are very engrained in the medical model, in my experience. I think that introducing these topics (i.e involuntary hospitalization, the bad science behind psych drugs, how the system hurts folks, etc.) within organizations like Active Minds is a good start. Some of the reception will certainly be mixed. I was curious of how this article would be received by my former chapter, but they were actually fairly receptive to these ideas. I think garnering interest from already active organizations could be a great way to start a strong base for a counter-organization. But that’s just my two cents! Again, thanks for the read and your kind words.
It got a ‘like’. I’m very familiar with coming up against the medical model in these institutions. (I actually worked at McLean too after I had healed from my cocktail/ had my eyes opened.) I try to disseminate info when and where I can, tactfully. Something was posted by the NAMI chapter and I responded with Sera’s articles- I was surprised to see a bit of openness to it and some likes: I think these few types of ppl are our ‘battlegrounds’, and a large portion of people are just lost causes. I know if I started a specific ‘Ant-psychiatry’ group (1st off it would have to have another name, like alternative something or other) and it really couldn’t be very school affiliated, just taking place at the school with student body. Maybe mindfreedom.. I don’t know. Anyways, cool work & thanks for the reply!
Listen real crazies here on MIA:Alliance with enemies of our entire crazy kind,what Psychologists and Psychiatrists exactly are,is out of the question!Mental Health System is their’s,not BIG PHARMA *creation*.
And so many here talk about*human* rights violations in Mental Health *care*.If you were anything,but
big mouths here on this website,you will already protest before NIMH or WHO!Something is horrible wrong,
with so called *activists*,here.
Borut, I would be glad to participate in an organized protest in the future. Unfortunately I’m incapacitated right now with physical withdrawal symptoms from that wonder drug Effexor. I also have developed a bad case of pneumonia brought on by the stress from drug withdrawal.
I feel your pain; my Effexor withdrawl (225mg!) was a strenuous and incapacitating process. Sending love and good wishes!
Thanks Danny! My original “prescribed” dose of effexor was 150 mg. In 2 weeks I plan to drop to 72.5 mg, or less than 50%. According to Dr. Brogan that’s when you really rediscover who you are. 🙂
I’m trying to think of a way to celebrate this milestone.
When you spend your energy “protesting” before NIMH, etc. you are in a sense validating their authority and asking them to change. What we need to be doing is EXPOSING these entities and eliminating their power; at that point what they think or believe will be irrelevant.
Danny, you are part of “Western Mass Recovery Learning Community”. Recovery is simply a way of further abusing the survivors of abuse. It amounts to asking for pity, or becoming and Uncle Tom.
We must not go this way, especially since what underlies support for the recovery, mental health, and disabilities movements is the need to use eugenics and social Darwinism to create scape goats.
So instead we need to fight back. Rather then telling people that they need Recovery, show them how then can fight back against perpetrators. No therapists, but lawyers.
The point made about reaching out in times of crisis is well taken. I live in a stigma free county where the majority of towns declared themselves to be stigma free. We have a stigma free tree in a local park and a large catered stigma-free breakfast annually which few consumers attend. Two years ago, we had two groups of high school students who danced at a local mall in stigma free t-shirts. Despite all this putative progress, reaching out in a crisis can be both disheartening and painful when so many are already vulnerable and bereft of hope. Our county hospital, also stigma free, can have 25 psychiatric patients boarding at any given time. Our county’s MH System Review Committee doesn’t track ER boarding of less then 5 days. On the psychiatric units there are typically about 40 patients who can’t be discharged for want of supports and services in the community.
My peers and I long into the system know what it is like to reach out. Too often where virtually all treatment is predicated on the Principles of Recovery & the Domains of Wellness actual treatment is typically limited to a medication adjustment, some extra therapy and/or a disheartening inpatient stay consisting of meds, beds and few desultory groups. (It is no surprise that we have a population which circles in and out of the county hospital.) The consequence of this system of “care” is that too many simply stop reaching out and take their lives through active or passive suicide.
We can only hope that one day those who encourage reaching out actually try reaching out to the very system they tell others to reach out to. They should similarly consider the outcomes this system fosters. I recently asked the director of my state’s suicide prevention program what specific efforts were being made to focus on those most likely to commit suicide, ex. individuals recently hospitalized, those with a long history of a SMI. I was told no special effort was being made. Someone at the meeting did chime in that there were groups for consumers who had survived a suicide. I did follow this up given how many support groups for friends and families of those who had commuted suicide exist. There was exactly one group for survivors of suicide in a state of 9 million.
Despite years of hopeful language, the suicide rate continues to grow despite initiatives including the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, the population of persons on disability by virtue of a MI is exploding, the percentage of American’s with a SMI increases, and long standing morbidity and mortality (YPPL) issues impacting mental health consumers remain largely unaddressed how can MH organizations in good conscience be so sanguine about treatment and outcomes. Does their perceived organizational duty to get folks into the MH system trump the sad reality that too many fail to recover or live long enough for any chance at recovery?
(Danny K, Kudos to you on putting principles first!)
Hmm. Would these anti-stigma towns also happen to be anti-segregation? Would the people in these towns knowingly hire someone “mentally ill?” Would they willingly rent a non-subsidized apartment to one (assuming he could pay the rent)? Would they shake the hands of people called “mentally ill” at churches, synagogues, and other social gatherings? I mean real handshakes, not the three-fingered kind. Why should they? There are institutions to “take care” of people like us.
Don’t think I’ll move to a stigma-free town any time soon.
—Would these anti-stigma towns also happen to be anti-segregation?
You have caught onto the game: They want to place the term stigma prominently.
How do they identify the crazy people so they know who not to stigmatize?
The massively obese guy with dead eyes and a vacant expression? These are results of “meds compliance.”
“Good insight” causes people to self identify too on occasion.
NAMI and similar organizations never tell you the only way to destroy stigma is to dismantle the psychiatric establishment and its allies–like NAMI.
Joe, thanks for the read and your comment. This type of systematic set-up sounds very similar to what we have in the states. There are abundant “stigma” groups that exist on the principle of owning and illness, and those who band together to say ‘We have been in the system, and it doesn’t work because X Y and Z,” are far less heard, often invisible. And it’s one thing if this is through younger college students, but another for those in “suicide prevention” organizations that have much easier access to statistics and first-hand accounts of what it is like in the system. I think a principle that humans so often forget is that money talks, but it’s useless in the end compared to humanity. And if you’re in human services, why would you be putting anything before humanity anyway? Here’s to hoping some of those survivor groups can gain some traction, and your stories can be heard. Check out ‘The Icarus Project” and “The Transformation Center”, as well as the Recovery Learning Communities online; they’re excellent examples of organizations where lived experience is the framework.
Mental Health System won’t change it’s *normal* policy vs us,who are crazy!Only if we crazies Start with Occupy NIMH and Occupy WHO movements,then will see our finest moment and their finnal hour!No-protests-means no existence,at first place.Don’t allow,that Mental Health *advocates* represents you!Payed activist are
always puppets of the *SYSTEM*.A substained,spinless people they are!And in general,most of them fell into
such category!NAMI is whore of snake god named BIG PHARMA.If I was American I will give any crazy there a good lesson from biology and evolution!Some lessons of biology are also needed here on MIA!This why I am here!Until brain cyst won’t shut down,my biological mind!