How Goes the “Revolution” in Mental Health?

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pūras, a medical doctor and professor at Vilnius University, Lithuania.

Maybe you missed it, like I did. But this weekend I finally read the little report, about 20 pages, by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Pūras.

Wow!

It is amazing! The official UN news release actually calls for a “revolution” in mental health.

The actual report is here, 21 pages that reads like we psychiatric survivors wrote it, see attachment: un-report-on-mental-health-2017

For example, he says “Mental health policies should address the ‘power imbalance’ rather than ‘chemical imbalance’.” He calls for the “elimination” of coercive mental health procedures.

Here is a way to unify through diversity. Last year I actually heard about the call for “revolution” by this UN Rapporteur through activist Rev. Phil Schulman. But it took me more than a year to finally read the report.

You can get a good summary by looking at a Mad in America blog by Justin Karter from 9 June 2017. If you need to, search online for the phrase: mad in america un revolution in mental health justin karter.

Check out this UN news release from June 2017:

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21689

Today, 10 October 2018, is considered World Mental Health Day by the mental health industry, and so this is good timing to get out the word about this UN report from 2017. My friend and psychiatric survivor Mary Maddock endorses a campaign by Mad in the UK. We are to use the hashtag #WMHD2018 to get out the word about the need for activism in mental health. You can read more about the campaign here:

World Mental Health Day – A Call to Action!

Please put your comments here about this report and speaking out. Meanwhile, I will tweet #WMHD2018, and I hope you do too.

 

Read More

Double Deck Memorization by David W. Oaks, Perfectly, Today!

5 September 2018

by David W. Oaks

Memorizing Two Decks of Cards: Why?

Excellent home care worker, Ian, poses by our grape arbor with two decks of cards and double-deck memorizer, me, David W. Oaks.

Excellent home care worker, Ian, poses by our grape arbor with two decks of cards and double-deck memorizer, me, David W. Oaks. So, counting the four Jokers in the deck, here are a total of six Jokers!

This morning, one of my main home care workers, Ian, shuffled two decks of cards together a few times and then cut them. Each deck has the usual 52 cards, plus Jokers in both black-and-white and color. So the total number of cards is 108.

Ian laid out 18 at a time, and I memorized their order. He did this six times.

Without looking at the cards again, I then recited all 108 cards, the entire two decks, in the same order, from memory. Ian carefully validated this and my accuracy.

Perfect!

Why?

Extreme Disability and the Mind

As my blog readers know, back in 2012 I experienced a severe accident which not only led to me being a quad (tetraplegic) in a power chair, but because of complications I have an impaired voice and no use of my fingers.

Because my mom taught to type when I was about 12, my typing speed was faster than 110 words per minute. Before my accident, I professionally spoke in a dozen nations about human rights and mental health. In my “big picture” planning, which I enjoyed, I loved to sketch big notes on huge pieces of paper.

Now, I realize I need to use my mind, rather than notes, typing, speeches, etc. So I learned to memorize a deck of cards. My understanding is that all of us deck-memorizers use the same ancient memory technique known as the memory palace. I memorized a single deck perfectly about 15 times.

But I wanted to do more. After a few attempts with errors, today I memorized two decks combined.

But We Humans Know So Little!

Sure, I can memorize two decks of cards, but I am reminded of something: The best of current science — whether it is complexity theory, quantum, string theory, dark matter, dark energy — tells us over and over that we humans hardly have any grip on reality, at all.

We are all crazy and mentally disabled, by any definition. Our choice is to be positively crazy or destructively demented.

I hope we all make the best choice. And today, with my amazing wife Debra, we celebrate.

Hey, I just memorized two decks of cards, perfectly!

Because We Know So Little, Let’s Support Each Other!

Yes, I have several physical challenges but my cognitive abilities appear to be fairly intact, I think.

But even if you have major cognitive disabilities, or your loved one is even in a coma, everyone and everything deserve dignity and respect! This week, with the help of Vocational Rehabilitation, I worked with a great business expert, Scott Weaver, to create a business plan, consulting, Aciu Institute.

May I use any cognitive skills, and my awareness of our extreme humility, to help this for-profit benefit our community. May we all launch a revolution to challenge the “normality” of climate crisis!

Please leave your comments on this blog, of any kind, so I know you are out there.

Read More

There is Now Mainly Only ONE (1) Mental Health Issue: Climate

For more than four decades I have worked as an independent activist for human rights in the mental health system. This independence is rather rare. Many of my good friends and colleagues in the mental health advocacy field work for nonprofits that are funded mainly by the government, local state or federal. My friends often do great work, but several of us have warned about dependence on money from the very system we are trying to change.

As many readers know, I worked as executive director of MindFreedom International for more than 25 years, before my disabling extreme accident in 2012. MFI is mainly funded by non-governmental grassroots sources. MFI is not afraid to protest the system. In fact, psychiatric survivor members demand such protests.

Almost all groups that are largely composed of psychiatric survivors, are government funded. To repeat, many provide wonderful services. Maybe this dependence on government funding is why our social-change movement is too-often silent about the climate crisis.

Break the Silence about the “Normality” of Global Warming

I have had a major media service in our mental health advocacy field tell me that my mention of climate crisis in my blogs have led to their rejection. This has happened more than once.

Another example:

A prominent activist in our movement scolded people who pointed out that our President has severe mental and emotional problems. Supposedly, stating the obvious that Trump is nuts somehow harms all the “little people” that we are here to serve.

Hey, everybody in the world is always crazy, if that word means anything. Are we creatively crazy or destructively daffy? That is our choice. Enforcers of Politically Correct-ness say that we can never call Donald “Daffy.”

But here is why calling Trump cuckoo is totally okay. If FDR had been anti-disability, it would make total sense to point out that he needed a wheelchair to get around. Being paralyzed did not disqualify FDR from the presidency. But if FDR dared to knock the disabled, noticing that he himself is disabled is totally okay.

Here is a direct connection between mental health and climate crisis:

Of course heat waves are more common. Many people in the public are unaware that most USA states now have “Involuntary Outpatient Commitment” laws that allow judges to court order mental health consumers to obey doctor orders. Typically this means involuntary psychiatric drugging in one’s own home out in the community. The most common drugs for this are so-called anti-psychotics, more correctly called neuroleptics.

This family of drugs can impair the brain’s temperature regulation. Those under IOC tend to be poor, without air conditioning. That means that climate crisis plus IOC can equal killing people. Many people.

You will tend not to hear about these deaths in the mainstream media, because I have heard there are concerns that we will “quit our meds.”

The climate crisis used to be one of many traumas. But now, because of decades of delay and denial, it is overwhelmingly the main mental health issue, both generally and specifically.

Today’s Single Mental Health Issue: Climate

If you have any empathy or sense, if you are truly an alive human being, then you are feeling, like me, overwhelmed by the indescribable tragedy unfolding on Earth’s ecosystem. If you have had the benefit of education, and you had paid attention, then you know that positive feedback loops can become unpredictable and massive. Suddenly. Think of avalanches.

In other words, any real human is now in crisis because of the countless traumas inherent in this environmental disaster. In other words, most of us are overwhelmed and paralyzed. It is past time to ask survivors of overwhelm and paralysis what can help.

There unfortunately is another group of humans in bizarre, strange, unscientific, non-rational denial of this climate crisis.

A friend of mine who has even written a book about climate crisis denial, was publicly and falsely maligned and defamed by one of these deniers. I asked her why she did not fight back publicly. Oddly, she laughed and said the political attack actually helped her career in academia. At first I laughed too, but years later I realized this situation is not funny.

Speak out about the climate crisis and actively resist Mother-Earth rapists.

Some are pointing out that the mainstream media is largely complicit in this silence. We need a revolution, check out the below new, brief article last week about how the corporate media is trying to pretend that the non-normal is normal:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/climate-change-wildfires-heatwave-media-old-news-end-of-the-world.html

Normal is dead.

At the start of the article, is an image by artist Isaac Paris. Even the wing of a moth can influence when and where a hurricane arrives. This image inspired my logo for my new consulting business, Aciu Institute.

Please comment here or on my Facebook page, so we all know we are not alone.

Read More

Four Great News Items About MindFreedom & Winning Human Rights in Mental Health

David W. Oaks, psychiatric survivor, speaks a few years ago in Oslo, Norway at a protest.

David W. Oaks, psychiatric survivor, speaks a few years ago in Oslo, Norway at a protest.

I do some consulting for the independent nonprofit, MindFreedom International, which is one of the main coalitions focusing on human rights in mental health.

Here are four positive news items about MFI:

1. MindFreedom will be doing another free webinar later this Summer 2018, on choice in mental health.

On August 19, 2018, MindFreedom will be holding a new free online webinar about empowering options for people needing mental and emotional support. The title of the webinar: “Voices for Choices: Organizing for Alternatives to Forced Psychiatric Treatment.”

Thanks to support from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, three leaders in the field of providing alternatives to mainstream mental health, will be offering this opportunity. For more information and to register, go here. Act soon, attendance is limited and based on previous webinars, this will be popular.

2. MindFreedom is stronger than ever.

It has been more than five years since I experienced a major accident and severe ongoing disabilities, requiring my retirement after 25 years as MFI’s executive director. As well as the above grant from the Foundation, MFI received an anonymous major donation, and many members have continued to support this important effort.

I am glad to report that MindFreedom International is doing very well. However, there has not been a replacement executive director. Until now. MFI is now announcing a search for a new executive director. This will no doubt lead to better member services, campaigns, and online information, which many people supportive of human rights in mental health have hoped for. Congratulations!

Please note that MindFreedom website currently lists the deadline for the job application as July 31, 2018. So unless this is extended, it is too late to apply.

For more info, see the MindFreedom website here. (Please note that I am not in any way personally involved with the search.)

I have very much enjoyed providing some consulting with MFI through my new business, Aciu Institute. We have helped do several surveys, for example. We look forward to future support for MFI.

3. You can now view MindFreedom’s last webinar, on human rights in mental health, free.

At the beginning of this Summer, 2018, two other psychiatric survivors and I presented a free MFI online gathering about winning campaigns for choice in mental health. You can now view a video recording for free on the web, here.

Above right is a photo of work I did years ago in Oslo, Norway with one of the oldest groups in our movement: We Shall Overcome. We constructed a huge prop hypodermic needle and reaches hundreds in Oslo about choice in mental health. No forced psychiatric drugging!

4. For a limited time, interested activists can apply to benefit from mentorship.

As a follow-up to their webinar MindFreedom International gave about human rights in mental health, about 20 folks can apply to become mentorees. Each will work with a mentor to develop written plans for a human rights in mental health campaign. Because space is limited, those interested should contact MFI soon. Email to: sarah@mindfreedom.org

Go MindFreedom International, go! Let us help lead this revolution!

I am glad to see that MindFreedom International, despite many struggles related to the incredible oppression in the mental health system, and also my accident, is doing so well. Listening to a lot of folks, I know there is hope for a better online presence, member services, etc. But generally these hopes are very constructively and lovingly offered.

Let us all work together for MindFreedom International and the revolution we need in mental health. With the climate crisis, the lock so-called “normality” has on our culture has become a central emergency, globally!

 

Read More

Celebrate a Victory! Kesey Square is now officially Kesey Square in Eugene, Oregon.

This Friday, November 3, 2017 at 3 pm we have a special free event planned, especially if you are in or near Eugene, Oregon. Celebrate the fact that the City Council has officially proclaimed that the center square in our city is Kesey Square, named after a wonderful writer and friend of our movement, Ken Kesey (1935-2001).

Here is the PDF flyer: new_2017-11-3-cuckoo

Below is the text from this PDF:

You are invited to a free celebration of
Kesey Square is now officially Kesey Square!

Where : Cuckoo’s Nest Stage
LILA Peer Support Club
990 Oak St, Eugene
(NW corner 8th & Oak)

Date : Friday, November 3, 2017

Time : Starts at 3 pm

Who ? David Rogers, folk singer. Sarah Smith, MindFreedom
International. David Oaks, revolutionary psychiatric survivor activist.
Libbie Rascon, Office of Consumer Activities. Lynne Mckinney.
Surprise guests. You! Free, public, peaceful, all ages welcome.

Celebrate a legacy of Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest . The City of Eugene has officially named Kesey Square.
After our indoors celebration, those of us who wish will then go to nearby
Kesey Square, Broadway & Willamette, where Food Not Bombs (FNB)
serves yummy, free, hot food every Friday afternoon! Donations of
nonperishable food (no meat or dairy please) encouraged for FNB!

This is a First Friday, so you can also then celebrate Eugene’s art.
Sponsored by MindFreedom Oregon

More info davidwoaks@gmail.com

Read More

Rise of Involuntary Mental Health in Key US Agency: What is Your Resistance Strategy?

Dr. Torrey with a brain

Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey promotes court-ordered involuntary psychiatric drugging for millions of Americans. He is winning so many victories that he told NY Times “I feel like I died and went to heaven.”

Update: 10/5/2017 Rep. Murphy has quit Congress effective 10/21.

Many advocates for human rights in the US mental health system already know this sad fact:

The main US government agency that addresses mental health is increasingly under the influence of a special interest group, founded by extremist psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey. This group, Treatment Advocate Center, promotes court-ordered involuntary outpatient mental health treatment, even if the client lives outside of a psychiatric institution.

However, even after working for decades for human rights in mental health, I have been surprised about how involuntary outpatient ideology is taking over in this government agency, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA plans to spend as much as $54 million of US taxpayer money for 17 programs across the country to spread this coercive approach. Four members of a new advisory committee for SAMHSA promote involuntary mental health.

What should be the response from people who care about human rights and mental health?

Sex and Murphy’s Last Law?

The Congress person behind the push for involuntary mental health has been Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). Earlier this month, Sept. 2017, mainstream media spotlighted a sex scandal involving Rep. Murphy. It turns out that over the last few years, Rep. Murphy betrayed his wife by hooking up with a volunteer for his horrible mental health legislation. His mistress is also a psychologist, about half his age, and those interested may read a Washington Post article about it here. Of course, the sex life of anyone is their own business, but remember that Rep. Murphy pushes involuntary mental health. Has he had a mental health check-up?

Needless to say, Rep. Murphy’s problems have hurt him on both sides of the aisle.

Of course, involuntary approaches have been a part of the mental health industry for centuries. I oppose all involuntary mental health treatment, because true recovery is based on empowerment. Usually this coercion is behind closed doors inside of locked psychiatric institutions. But since the 1980’s, in the US, state after state has quietly passed mental health laws allowing courts to order people living out in their own neighborhoods to follow mental health treatment, typically psychiatric drugs.

Today, almost all US states practice Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC). Proponents of IOC have found it useful to cover-up this coercion. First, they dropped the word “involuntary.” Then they adopted the mis-named euphemism “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT).

Assisted?

The movie “Brazil” has an arrest scene in which the subject is “invited to assist” the authorities, and this dark vision accurately describes this kind of “assistance.”

In reality, IOC does not rely on direct physical force. However, knowing that refusal to take your meds will typically result in your immediate detention is extremely coercive.

IOC or AOT, whatever you call it, involves a judge ordering you to follow instructions from your local community mental health system, even if you are law-abiding and living in your own home, peacefully. The special interest group Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), founded by the psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, lobbies for IOC.

TAC cites studies that claim there are 3.9 million Americans with “untreated serious mental illness.” While some of these Americans have a lack of access to mental health care, many simply do not want the traditional mental health treatment, which is often psychiatric drugs. I am one of those who refuses that kind of approach. Are you one of the 3.9 million Americans in the cross hairs of TAC?

TAC Gaining Power in US Government

Kimberly Johnson, PhD, directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

This involuntary community treatment seems to be gaining even more authority at SAMHSA, one of the largest mental health agencies on Earth. SAMHSA, led by director Kimberly Johnson, PhD, asked for $4.3 billion in its 2017 budget.

SAMHSA includes the half-billion dollar agency Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), headed by Paolo del Vecchio. Paolo is one of the few agency heads who publicly discloses that he has lived experience as, his agency calls it, a “mental health consumer.” Until this year, 2017, CMHS has funded the popular Alternatives Conference in the USA, the main place for networking for thousands of mental health consumers since 1985. Apparently this amazingly successful gathering is no longer worth their money, as they find millions for outpatient coerced treatment.

CMHS funds many of the mental health consumer groups in the US. While many of these nonprofits provide important peer support activities, the reliance on CMHS has chilled out and silenced resistance to the rise of dis-empowerment.

Examples of how IOC is gaining influence in SAMHSA:

  • SAMHSA directs millions in taxpayer money to 17 grant award winners, in a four-year program, that promote IOC, or AOT as they call it. So far, 256 Americans have been included in these programs. According to SAMHSA’s Press Officer Phillip Walls, “The total could go up to about $54 million.”
  • SAMHSA now has a new Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee’s (ISMICC), to advise it about folks who are considered to have a significant psychiatric disability for a long duration. ISMICC held its first meeting last month, August 2017. I did a simple Google search, and found that four of the 14 members promote involuntary mental health treatment. In fact, one directs TAC.
  • As I have blogged previously, SAMHSA now has a new position that is popularly called the “mental health czar,” given to psychiatrist Elinore McCance-Katz, who supports AOT.

There is some recent good news. Earlier this month, September 2017, proponents of IOC, or as they call it, AOT, tried to get an extra $5 million per year, which would figure out to more than $20 million dollars over four years. Thankfully, Congress voted this extra money down, 219 to 198 on September 13, 2017. I do not know if money or liberty was the main concern. But if you would like to see how US Representatives voted, go here.

The sex scandal involving Rep. Murphy may be a contributing cause to this failure. Let us hope that the tide is turning for involuntary mental health at SAMSHA.

What Should be Our Response?

Few people know about our little social change movement affectionately called the “Mad Movement.” After centuries of mental health oppression this movement began in about 1969. Quietly, under the radar, some of those who have been through the mental health system, along with supportive allies have worked for human rights and social change in the mental health industry. So what should we do now?

As a survivor of involuntary psychiatry myself, and as a community organizer, my approach tends to be activism.

I worked for MindFreedom International, one of the main independent coalitions in the Mad Movement, for more than 25 years as executive director. Nearly five years ago I experienced a major accident and I retired. Recently, I have acted as a volunteer consultant for MindFreedom with Aciu Institute, a new consulting group I am helping to start with my friend Jeff Bousquet.

Several folks who I respect in the field of mental health empowerment, who bravely survived abuse by their psychiatrists, are funded by SAMSHA directly or indirectly. They have privately told me that they cannot speak out publicly about the rise of involuntary approaches, because of their funding source.

If we are serious, truly serious, about challenging the mental health industry, then we need to develop funding that is independent of that industry. MindFreedom has been one of these groups, refusing to take mental health system money, not that it was offered.

Rise Again!

David Oaks tries out a Permobil standing powerchair.

During the past five years, being a quad with a few other disabilities has meant that I have had a bit more time to reflect about our social change movement. Our society seems far too silent in the face of climate crisis. When we should be calling for revolution, it feels like humanity has learned to conform. But let us not give up. Whatever our disabilities, however much SAMSHA is captured by involuntary approaches, and no matter how silent our society is about the climate crisis, fight back! For me personally, one of these ways is that I am looking at a new power chair that can stand me up (see photo).

How can our movement rise now, faced with this push for involuntary mental health? You can leave a public comment on this blog. However, it would be helpful for MindFreedom to get your ideas. We are conducting a survey, and you can indicate if you want your answers to be private or public. I intend to blog about the results. We all want your feedback now! A number of you have already taken this free, brief, private, online survey.

Please take a moment now and fill it out:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/mfi-survey-2017

MindFreedom leaders need to hear from folks about their concerns and strategy ideas. Early results show that by far resisting involuntary psychiatric drugging is the most important issue. People taking the survey appreciate MindFreedom’s activism, support for psychiatric survivors, and independence the most.

Below are some of the early survey replies to to the question, “What have you learned or gained from MindFreedom International?”

  • “I found friends who fight for human rights in mental health.”
  • “Power to tell my story my way.”
  • “I gained my life back!!!!!”
  • “Pride and confidence in my own experience and reality.”

For more information about the MindFreedom survey, contact me, co-founder of Aciu Institute, at davidwoaks@gmail.com.

My Research About SAMSHA

Mr. del Vecchio responded to my email this Spring asking about CMHS support for what is called AOT, and is actually IOC. Whatever it is called, a judge court-orders individuals to follow community mental health instructions. Mr. del Vecchio confirmed by email that this grant program exists, and he sent the list of successful awardees. Below is a copy of his email, with both links to the grant program and the awardees.

To clarify this information, I exchanged email with Mr. Phil Walls, SAMHSA press officer, after a Freedom of Information Act request. Below, you will also find the email from Mr. Walls, confirming that more than $50 million is budgeted for this four-year program with 17 awardees. The only change is that the program for Seattle was cancelled and instead it was redirected to an agency in New Mexico, which just passed an IOC law in 2016.

Delvecchio, Paolo (SAMHSA/CMHS) <Paolo.Delvecchio@samhsa.hhs.gov>
Apr 17 [2017]

to [David W. Oaks]
Here’s a start:

Last year’s grant announcement: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/sm-16-011

Awardees: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2016/SM-16-011

-pdv

 

Walls, Phillip (SAMHSA/OC) <Phillip.Walls@samhsa.hhs.gov>
Aug 24 [2017]

to [David W. Oaks]

. . . As of July 2017, 256 individuals have been served in the 17 grantee programs.

. . .

Walls, Phillip (SAMHSA/OC) <Phillip.Walls@samhsa.hhs.gov>
Sep 6 [2017]

to [David W. Oaks]
Hi David

What you are looking for is here: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2016/SM-16-011. All numbers are per year, for up to four years. The total could go up to about $54 million.

PW

Walls, Phillip (SAMHSA/OC)

Sep 6 [2017]

to me

One change:

COUNTY DEPT OF CMTY & HUMAN SRVS, Seattle WA is no longer a recipient.

But Dona Ana County, New Mexico is now on the list. They receive 700,000/ yr for 4 years.​

New Committee Has Several Involuntary Mental Health Proponents

The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee’s (ISMICC) non-federal membership were selected in August 2017 to serve three-year terms. Their first meeting was held August 31, 2017. Four of those who promote involuntary mental health care include:

What Is Your Strategy to Respond? 

It is OK if circumstances require that you must be private about your resistance to this rise of dis-empowerment at SAMHSA. However, I hope even you do take some kind of action. This is no time for the sidelines.

On this blog comment section, those of you willing to be public may leave your ideas for effective revolution.

And whether or not you are private or public, a member of MindFreedom or not, please take a few moments to fill out this convenient online survey. There is an area for you to indicate whether or not you would like your comments to be public, and if you choose the whole process can be anonymous.

The survey is here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/mfi-survey-2017


The above is a more complete blog that was also published in Mad in America here:

Rise of Involuntary Mental Health: What is Your Resistance Strategy?

Read More