Crazy Like A Fox? Trump’s Mental Health Debated While Senate Quietly Rubber-Stamps “Mental Health Czar”

Updated July 18, 2017:

US Senate Moving Now About Trump “Mental Health Czar” Appointee!

Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, appointed by President Trump to an important mental health position.

I just heard that the US Senate, via Senator Lamar Alexander’s HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions), will be looking at this Trump appointee at the end of July, 2017. Hey that is right now! 

There are many ways to influence this committee! They include Sen. Sanders, Warren, Franken, plus many Senators from States with activists (such as Wisc., Maine, Mass., Wash., Penn., Virginia, etc.). If you have a US Senator on this Committee, act now. If your US Senators are not on this Committee, please ask them to speak out today.

Since the bizarre attempt to gut the ACA is scuttled, this is a good time to speak out!

It may be too late to stop this appointment, but we could be asking some very good questions. We need to find out about Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz support for empowerment, recovery, peer support, alternatives, etc. But we should also find out about her understanding of the way psychiatric drugs are forced on people, hazards of long-term use, federal support for involuntary psychiatric drugging including on a outpatient basis, alternatives to psychiatric drugs, brain damage associated with neuroleptic drugs, electroshock, involuntary electroshock, and how involuntary outpatient procedures can and do include occasional court-ordered involuntary electroshock! 

Below is the blog I wrote a few weeks ago about blocking this Trump appointee, and I have some questions listed. Let us ask some good questions right now, come on everybody!

Stop the Trump Appointee of a “Mental Health Czar”! At Least Ask Some Good Questions!

The nation and media debate Pres. Trump’s mental health. It is kind of a kick to watch Trump act nuts. Maybe it’s like driving past a car wreck on the highway. You vow to yourself to look away, but I look. Maybe you do too.

However, Pres. Cuckoo is distracting us.

Pres. Trump is “crazy like a fox.” The US Senate is quietly approving his first “Mental Health Czar.” Really!

You may have not heard about this controversy at all in the corporate media.

This “Mental Health Czar” appointment is moving below the radar of many people. In December 2016, the vast majority of Republican and Democrat congresspeople passed a huge and extreme mental health law for the nation, as part of the “21st Century Cures” bill.

Trump is Nominating New Mental Health “Czar” 

As part of this new law, Pres. Trump has nominated a psychiatrist, Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, for this first brand-new very-powerful position, widely considered “a mental health czar” of the USA.

 

While this process is not spoken about much in the media, the US Senate via Sen. Lamar Alexander’s committee, is supposed to ask her questions and decide about her confirmation. The formal title for this brand-new position is “Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (Samhsa).”

Paolo del Vecchio heads the Center for Mental Health Services, a half-billion dollar agency within Samhsa.

If you are new to the US mental health world, you may not know that Samhsa is the huge federal agency that funds much of the mental health system. Just one of the Samhsa agencies is Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS),  overseeing about a half-a-billion dollars annually, including many of the mental health consumer events such as the popular annual Alternatives Conference, the next one in Boston starts August 18, 2017.

CMHS is headed by Paolo del Vecchio, who has publicly identified himself as someone with “lived experience” of a mental health disability. Thousands of folks in our movement lead by mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors have met Paolo.

Now Paolo and CMHS find themselves in the middle of a strange and quiet battle.

For many decades, mental health consumer organizations in the USA have counted on the federal and state governments for their budgets. Only a few organizations have even tried to fund their budgets with donations, memberships, grassroots sales, and small independent grants.

It is difficult to explain to people how much advocacy organizations for mental health are under the control of the mental health industry. Imagine almost all the environmental groups in the USA, such as GreenPeace, getting their funding from the petrochemical industry. You might spot a problem here?

The Chickens Come Home to Roost

I have spent about 40 years working as a human rights activist in the mental health field. I am proud that when I directed MindFreedom International, for about 25 years, we raised our funds the old-fashioned way mainly through membership donations. Yes, we tried to maintain friendly relationships with industry-funded groups, after all they did some good.

Time for all mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor advocacy groups to raise part or all of their budgets in a more independent way.

The reality today is that many of the mental health consumer groups in the USA are funded by agencies that are headed up by the President, Donald Trump. In other words, the boss’s bosses’ boss of many mental health advocacy groups is Pres. Trump.

Hey President Trump:

“Before your mental health czar pushes for court-orders of any more Americans into forced outpatient psychiatric drugging, will you have a mental health check-up yourself?”

I have blogged previously about why this new position is so very dangerous. For example, after decades of new laws, on the state level, for court-ordered Involuntary Outpatient Commitment with involuntary psychiatric drugging (so-called IOC or as apologists call this violation, “Assisted Care”), this authoritarian practice is now partly-funded federally by US taxpayer dollars.

The US Senate should ask Dr. McCance-Katz about federal support and her backing for this forced outpatient psychiatric drugging.

That is correct, if you are an American taxpayer, some of your millions goes to forcibly drugging your neighbors in their own homes, using court orders. That might even sound like a good idea to some people, until someone suggests you yourself might be one of those to be under such a court order.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) is the only psychologist in Congress and for years he championed the bill that became 21st Century Cures. You may read articles about this topic over on Mad in America:

https://www.madinamerica.com/tag/murphy-bill/

Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey Gloats

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 with Pres. Trump that he told NY Times “I feel like I died and went to heaven.”

Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey is widely considered one of the main opponents of our social change movement. This eccentric doctor seems to love the idea of forcing millions of Americans to take super powerful psychiatric drugs. According to a New York Times article on the nominations of Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz, Torrey told the NY Times recently, “I feel like I died and went to heaven . . . I honestly didn’t think I’d see something like this happen in my lifetime.”

Sure, we can debate the mental health status of Torrey and Trump, neither of whom appear to have gotten a mental health check-up.

Meanwhile, the US Senate should be asking some tough questions of Dr. McCance-Katz. Maybe the US Senate will approve her, but we Americans can at least ask about controversies such as:

  • Does she support more forced outpatient psychiatric drugging?
  • If so, how many Americans does she feel should get court-ordered drugging?
  • Does she endorse the current use of federal money for this?
  • Does she admit that court-ordered involuntary electroshock on an outpatient basis can be done?
  • What is the long-term impact of psychiatric drugs?
  • Why aren’t non-drug alternatives offered to Americans, including the millions of vets?
  • And many other questions!

Difficult to Learn About the Senate Debate on Trump’s “Mental Health Czar”

When is the confirmation process in the US Senate? How do you submit questions to be asked? What criteria will be used? How can we ask about involuntary psychiatric drugs, and their impact on Americans?

The Mental Health Civil Rights Advocacy Subcommittee of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) holds a monthly teleconference, headed by Wisconsin disability advocate Mike Bachhuber. I’ve been on this Subcommittee for many years. Their most recent minutes, May 24, 2017, reflected a kind of despair about this process, to paraphrase:

“We discussed the nomination of Dr. McCance-Katz to Asst Secretary for HHS. The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) said that it is done deal. Has support of Mental Health America (MHA). Dan Fisher says that groups will not fight because many get money from SAMHSA and fear retaliation. Instead it’s suggested that we pepper the committee with questions about individual voice of service recipients.”

Let Us Resist! Fight Back Now!

We can at least have a more transparent process about this US Senate debate of the first USA “mental health czar,” appointed by a US President with obvious severe mental issues.

What is the timeline? How can we get in questions?

Dr. Torrey may think he is in heaven, but I would like a revolution, now!

And in case you still had doubts that Pres. Trump has severe mental and emotional problems:

New York Times opinion writer Charles M. Blow recently wondered about Pres. Trump’s apparent “obsession” with former-Pres. Obama:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/opinion/trumps-obama-obsession.html

I think it is pretty clear, from Pres. Trump’s denial of the climate crisis despite mounds of science, that he has severe and dangerous mental problems. In fact, I would argue that to exist, to live, we all have emotional problems. The challenge is to seek positivity and justice. Pres. Trump fails over and over in that pursuit. What an embarrassment, and what a risk especially to future generations.

But as Martin Luther King warned, beware the paralysis of analysis. The US Senate should be showing some bravery right now, and both of your US Senators should act.

Action: Contact Your US Senators, Now!

Each American has two US Senators. Call and email them now!

Simply say that you oppose the nomination by Trump of Dr. Ellie McCance-Katz for Associate Secretary of Samhsa. My blog from the Spring about this has more detail if you would like it:

http://138.68.254.83/trump-appointee-mccance-katz-samhsa

Everyone should contact their US Senators.

Call both the DC and local offices. Learn the name of the main staff person who works on health.

Keep calling and emailing. Please post a copy of your US Senate note, on this blog, on Facebook, etc.

Why?

Ask anyone in the mental health field for a copy of their message to their US Senators. If they do not have a letter copy then you may be looking at a sell-out. Maybe a nice sell-out, but a very confused mental health advocate!

If you can do more, try to get some good questions asked by the US Senate during this process. You can leave comments here. Just now I phoned up the office of US Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and the person who answered the phone was unaware of this controversy. Sen. Alexander heads the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which is supposed to be in charge of questioning Dr. McCance-Katz.

The Vast Majority of USA Opposes These Practices!

Note that both Republicans and Democrats widely supported this bill.

But both the left and the right have spoken out many times over the years against heavy-handed government psychiatric drugging.

For instance, did you know that the USA Libertarian Party actually had a plank, passed quite a number of years ago, against all forced government psychiatric drugging?

Did you know that several grassroots Republican activists have been key for bringing up psychiatric drugging of children? When foster kids get heavy-duty psychiatric drugging, all of us share the guilt.

This issue is far beyond the usual right and left split.

We need a revolution in the mental health system and in our society. Pres. Trump may seem “crazy” but the fact is that his wild, inappropriate, disrespectful antics get the spotlight, when we should be stopping the appointment of Dr. McCance-Katz and this nightmarish 21st Century Cures Act that Torrey’s group, Treatment Advocacy Center, calls “monumental.”

Let us not be distracted by the bizarre behavior of Pres. Trump. Oppose the US Senate confirmation of Dr. McCance-Katz, and at least let us ask some good questions. Keep your eyes on the prize.

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Paid Part-time Help Wanted: Especially if you already have Senior & Disabled Services provider number

Do you live in Lane County, now or in the near future?

Do you want a part-time home care paid position with one of the best employers in the world, me?

I have multiple disabilities. In fact, I would be called quad but actually because my neck has long had a challenge, I am actually a penta: that is, I have five major disabilities, all my limbs and my neck. Plus a disabled voice.

But let us talk about the positives now, there is a great opportunity for the person or persons who work out!

To the right I am trying out a standing power chair, an example of the direction I am headed. Be revolutionary!

Paid Part-Time Home Care Workers Needed Now!

Because of circumstances, such as a serious health problem with one of our newer employees, we have a need for part-time workers, which can easily turn into permanent shifts.

For more info about paid part-time home care work, see my Help Wanted tab or go directly to this page:

http://138.68.254.83/paid-unpaid-jobs/paid-homecare-worker

If you have interest, please act now by emailing me at davidwoaks@gmail.com and/or if you have my cell number, give me a call.

Our priority is an individual who already has an active Oregon Senior & Disabled Services provider number. But if you have a clean record and passion for this work, then applying with me can be your potential way to getting such a number, which can lead to other jobs.

One current worker says this about being an employee on our quarter-acre southwest Eugene eco-home: “David is a great and flexible employer. Their home is a wonderful place to spend time at and David is always fun to chat with. Working with David has also provided me with ample learning opportunities that have helped me start a career in care work. Thanks, David!” – Ian

In fact, even without applying for an SDS provider number, there are some part-time positions (such as admin, etc.) where we can hire directly.

Spread the word with folks who you think would be a good fit, if they live in our area or expect to live here soon.

Thanks!

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Thanks! My Operation a Success. My Restraints. WHO Calls for Ending All Mental Health Restraints. Complex? It’s Simple: Revolution of Course!

May 15, 2017: I am OK, back at Mad Swan, what we call our home. Thanks all!

In Lithuanian, the word for “thanks” is aciu! So:

Aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-chooooooooooooooooo!

Photo of bodybuilder Aaron Maddron

Aaron Maddron as a professional bodybuilder. He was one of my many great respiratory therapists this past week. I found Aaron to be especially supportive. Aaaaaaahhhhhh-chooo!!

Two folks to single out for appreciation:

Thanks of course to Debra, my amazing wife. Near the bottom of my blog entry are two very brief videos by her, just after the operation. In both videos I am mute. My being silent for a while may bring great pleasure to some beloved viewers.

Also, thanks to one of my very helpful respiratory therapists (RT) Aaron Maddron, see his photo here by Eric Jacobson, published in East Coast Muscle Magazine. I appreciate your positive support and advice, Aaron, my friend, I hope it is OK to post this public info. Some fans are wondering what happened to you after winning body building championships.

I can assure folks that Mr. Maddron is now an effective healer.

Thanks, respect and dignity for all.

Briefly, Let Us Start At the Beginning of This Past Week: 

Exactly one week ago, on Monday morning, 8 May 2017, I experienced some significant health difficulties including nausea & radiating pain in my back. My brilliant loving and amazing wife, Debra, encouraged me to consult with Dr. Hurtado, my primary care physician. Based on my health experiences this past year and a recent visit with him, he encouraged me to go to an emergency room.

I have taken ambulances to various ER’s several times and knew the drill: This meant that we phoned 911 and took an ambulance to an ER room. I did not have time to inform a lot of folks, please forgive me if you did not know. Also, because of confidentiality laws, my wonderful team of employees could not transmit info about me. Everyone has permission to share this message, and I asked the wonderful webmaster, Jeffrey Bousquet, with Aciu Instititute to add this to my personal blog. (Thanks, Jeff!)

Just after my surgery. Since I could order restraints removed, they actually were not real restraints in a way. I speak with my hands, and I do not want to pull on any of these many tubes! I agree with WHO: End mental health restraints!

After three days, I felt so much better, I sent out a message that this blog is based on. And today I am at home. Over this past week I experienced the following:

  • My sixth ambulance trip, I think, in about a year.
  • I chose this time to go back to Riverbend PeaceHealth, the site of my original ER arrival four years and five months ago when I fell in December 2012, and broke my spine.
  • My diagnosis this time: Emergency pancreatitis.
  • My fifth operation in five years.
  • A glimpse at some past trauma while chatting with great caretakers.
  • I got to play with many caretakers and friends our newest games, Wacco, free, face-to-face, question-oriented. I was able to listen and find out a bunch about what they were Nuts4, or nuts for.
  • Not eating for three days.
  • (Oops did I say briefly?)

Here are some videos from just after the operation:

By my beloved Debra, only 17 seconds, I am still unconscious:

A 25 second video by Debra after I wake up post-op, only 25 seconds, I am still mute, but my eyes are open. Note the devices that I am wearing that would normally be called restraints. Normal? Hoooowwwwl!:

Because a bunch of tubes were still in my nose and throat and gut, I did not stop the use of “restraints.” My restraints involved post-op, not mental health. The topic in general can be very complex. I admire Martin Luther King warning us about the paralysis of analysis. As a trauma survivor, I can advise River Bend on some possible improvements on this process.

After about 40 years working for human rights in mental health, there is a very simple way for you to address the issue of “restraints.” I talk with my hands & arms so there was a risk of pulling the tubes out. But do not worry, in a way they are not real restraints if I can have them removed. Complex? Or is it.

What? Oaks in Restraints? 

My main purpose here is to thank people for this past week. However, I do need to address more the topic of involuntary mental health restraints including chemical restraints.

You see, President Trump nominated an individual to a key new “mental health czar” position who very much supports involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment. The US Senate will ask her questions during the approval process, and so now is the time to reach all US Senators about this topic, because their approval of her nomination is required. Mad In America re-published my blog about this topic, and quite a lot of readers have been interested, https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/04/trump-appoints-leader-campaigned-involuntary-outpatient-drugging/

I hope everyone who reads this provides feedback via my blog or Mad In America. While I have difficulty getting all messages, I also try to keep up with feedback via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I am an First Amendment fanatic! What are your views and questions? Hey, what is this, Russia?

Russia, by the way, is famous for doing a lot of involuntary psychiatric drugging. It is easier somehow for us Americans to see such human rights violations in another country. Same drug, needle just as sharp, different perspective. Gee, our President Trump seems to ignore some negativity over in Russia. Same President who has recently nominated Elinore F. McCance-Katz of Rhode Island for our new “mental health czar.”

The topic of restraints, physical tie-downs after surgery versus mental health restraints including psychiatric drug injections, appears to be very complex.

Let Us Get Real Simple Here:

I agree with Michelle Funk who speaks for the World Health Organization (WHO), based in Geneva, Switzerland, connected to the United Nations. Thanks WHO!

May is Mental Health Month here in the USA. Here is Michelle’s May 4, 2017 tweet:

“The use of seclusion & restraint in must end. Together we can reach this goal with

If you view my retweet comment about this the same day, just a few weeks ago, to help get out this extremely important news, WHO calls for end to use of solitary confinement and restraints in mental health, you see I agree with her and the WHO.

“I really enjoyed being an ‘expert consultant’ for this set of pilot modules from the World Health Organization with the UN.”

As a consultant expert during 2016 for the World Health Organization on human rights in mental health, I was one of those with personal lived experience of real restraints. Not the tie-down types. The sharp end of the needle kind. I am a survivor of involuntary psychiatric drug injections as a college student back in the 1970’s. I graduated Harvard despite these experiences 40 years ago this year.

The topics of my psychiatric survivor story, restraints, and a lot more may seem very complex but I am trying to be brief here. Ha-ha!

Simply put, WHO calls for ending involuntary restraints in mental health now. I agree. Note that these restraints include chemical ones.

More to come, but to learn about ending restraints in mental health, here is a free PDF link to one of the new 15 WHO documents that I advised on, Strategies to end the use of seclusion, restraint and other coercive practices: Training to act, unite and empower for mental health (Pilot Version):

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254809/1/WHO-MSD-MHP-17.9-eng.pdf

Back to My Stay Last Week in the Hospital

I was mute for a few hours, I realized that my brother’s invention of a letter board that I used on the same ICU four years ago would have really, really come in handy. Laminate and sell that puppy, Tony!

During my recovery after my surgery, I asked Debra’s help in getting a chaplain and we met a couple including one from my Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene, Kimberly. Thanks Kim! Visit our Facebook group that brings together more than one hundred of us: UU Mental Health Justice.

I had time to reflect there inside Riverbend PeaceHealth Hospital in Springfield, Oregon, city of the Simpsons this past week. Time to rest with more simplicity. Thanks for helping everyone who produced this blog entry, much of it written a few days ago including this line: “Debra has provided so much support and love–she blows a kiss. Ian is typing this.”

Yes, the personal is the political.

Love Earth Revolution! Now! Now! Now! Now!

AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo!

Posted this morning, Monday, May 15, 2017:

Thanks to you who:

Spotted the problem

Wisely encouraged intervention

Transported me by ambulance

Debra thanks for being my amazing wife and true love all these decades, once more you are saving me!

Everybody who sent well wishes

All messages including phone calls were very much appreciated, thanks

Those of you who were supportive even though we were unable to inform all who would like to know such things. (May I suggest getting to my Twitter account and adding yourself as what is called “follower.” In the future I will try to tweet very significant news.)

Thanks again to Aaron!

And thanks to Patch Adams, MD, even though you were not in the room, and even though you do not go on the Internet, and even though this time I did not phone you up my dear friend, AAAAAAAHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Ruby Rogers Center in Danger of Being Defunded by Massachusetts

Ruby Rogers Center in Danger of Being Defunded by Massachusetts

One of the very first community centers run by and for psychiatric survivors is at risk of losing its funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I know about the roots of this user-run space, because as a senior at Harvard College back in the 1970’s, I was placed at Mental Patients Liberation Front as an intern by Phillips Brooks House, Harvard’s social service group.
MPLF, with the leadership of the late Judi Chamberlin, author of a book on empowered mental health centers, created the community gathering locations that eventually became the Ruby Rogers Center in Somerville, Massachusetts. Here are some of the highlights as we created the center:

  • In the mid-1970’s a handful of us in MPLF came together for weekly mutual support. We were gratified to see that Judi’s book, On Our Own, was published. We often met at the storefront of an early activist space, Vocations for Social Change, near Central Square, Cambridge.
  • For a while we created a center at Stone Soup Art and Poetry storefront in Boston, thanks to the generosity of Jack Powers, proprietor. I recall briefly meeting poet Allen Ginsberg when he visited Jack. Activist Ted Chabasinski, survivor of forced electroshock, also visited.
  • Thanks to a grant from Haymarket Fund, we established an office and community center across the street from Boston Common.
  • As a group we met with state-employees at Department of Mental Health headquarters to explain our deep concerns about human rights violations and the need for humane alternatives.
  • About at that time, 1981, I left Boston, but the MPLF members won an agreement from Massachusetts to create a community center that was eventually named after Ruby Rogers, one of the early psychiatric survivor plaintiffs in a key lawsuit against forced psychiatric drugging. I saw Ruby, a charismatic African American psychiatric survivor, who I heard spoke up while locked up in a psychiatric ward, supported by MPLF organizing and a petition by other folks who were locked up.
  • During the three decades since then I have been very delighted to hear that the Ruby Rogers Center, keeping alive the name of MPLF, has continued to do great work. You can read about the details here.

Now the center is in danger of being eliminated by DMH, even though there is a need more than ever for independent living centers run by and for people diagnosed with mental health issues. Not only are such alternatives cost effective for taxpayers, anyone may someday need to have such a welcoming place for their own well being. If not you, then perhaps a loved one may benefit.

I remember a few years ago when I was chatting with a employee of the small, activist-friendly foundation, Resist. They were unfamiliar with our movement, but I knew they were located in Somerville. I asked them if they were familiar with the Ruby Rogers Center, and it turns out that was right across the street. Perfect to illustrate how our movement was widespread but little known! We got the small grant for MindFreedom International, and I recommend other grassroots groups in our movement apply for a Resist grant.

You can read about the Ruby Rogers Center on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/rubyrogercenter/

Thanks to a Facebook post from Harry Agritha, shared by Karen Langley, that alerted me about this. Charlie Carr commented and this brought my attention to the danger, here.

I encourage all those who support the disability and prison justice movements to speak up about the importance of the Ruby Rogers Center, now! I especially call out for support from disability activists in the hundreds of independent living centers, which form the backbone of the funded disability movement in the USA today.

You are invited to join me in emailing a civil but strong message to DMH of Massachusetts via this address: dmhinfo@massmail.state.ma.us

 

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My Return to Sam Bond’s: Stand-up Comedy (Or Should I Say Lean-back) This Saturday

You can download free one-page flier here: oaks-flier-20170225

David W. Oaks drawing by artist Isaac Paris c 2016

David W. Oaks portrait by Isaac Paris c 2016

Free!

This Saturday:

David Oaks, stand up comic

…or should we say lean back comic

One of many at Bleepin’ Funny,

Sam Bond’s, 407 Blair, Eugene, OR

Saturday, February 25, 2017, 5 pm – 7pm.

Get there early and eat, drink, and tip well!

More info at http://www.sambonds.com/

Or https://www.facebook.com/events/210853359381221/

 

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Disability Movement Tips About Supporting Each Other During Crisis (Like a Trump Presidency)  

 

A Gold Lining: People Are Finally Using the Word, “Revolution”!

 

More Than Ever, Let Us Support MindFreedom International

 

By David W. Oaks

dw-oaks-standingchair-2016

I tried out a “standing chair” during my rehab.

Stand up now & fight back!

“Now” in Lithuanian, my heritage, is “Dabar”!

Dabar!

Last month we watched my nation’s presidential inauguration. The reality of the USA’s catastrophic election started to sink in.

Even if you voted for Donald Trump, my intuition is that your disappointment has already started, dabar.

But I notice a number of gold linings, recently:

A lot more people are starting to use the word “revolution.”

For another, as I have often hoped, the word “normality” is no longer being used much.

We must look, and keep looking, for gold linings. I draw here upon the wisdom of the disability movement, which I have been an activist in for more than four decades. I have especially been a community organizer for deep change in the mental health system.

I am a psychiatric survivor. That is, about 40 years ago, as a working class kid going to Harvard, I ended up in psychiatric institutions five times, where I experienced forced drug injections and solitary confinement. I graduated anyway, in 1977.

I helped start one of the key independent groups in the psychiatric survivor movement, MindFreedom International, and I was the Executive Director for about 25 years. The MindFreedom community, and their hard-working board, have won many campaigns for human rights in mental health care over the years. Four years ago, I fell and broke my neck, and because of complications, I had to retire from working for this superb group.

The past four years I have been doing about two dozen rehab activities, so I have been a bit isolated. But now is a good time to say “I am still alive,” and share what I have learned. My main goal in this note is to encourage everyone to give urgent support to MindFreedom International, which as we will see is going through a crisis of its own.

A Whole Lot of Falling Sure is Happening Now

Yes, Uncle Sam certainly fell down at the voting booth in November. The very same week as the election, the global climate crisis talks in Morocco fell apart. It feels as if the world is paralysed over the climate crisis.

As the author Hunter S. Thompson once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” With the world slowly coming to the realisation that we are all, 100%, collectively “disabled,” both physically and mentally, let’s turn to the social change movement led by people with disabilities for some tips about how to get through these trying times, and even to thrive.

Here is something you can tangibly do: Support the crucial nonprofit MindFreedom International, which has worked independently for decades to radically change the mental health system.

We wonder why the world seems to be stuck right now, well one of the reasons is that centuries of psychiatric oppression of new thinking has taken a toll. The population gets these messages: Avoid any reality that is uncomfortable, and thinking outside of the box is often punished.

Because people in the mental health system tend to be so poor, the vast majority of activities in the mental health consumer field have been government-funded: The conferences, the offices, the research.

MindFreedom has maintained its independence, and it is one of the few groups in the mental health advocacy field that receives its funding from everyday people and a few foundations who care about human rights.

While I am proud that MindFreedom International has avoided mental health system funding, I have always tried to maintain a supportive relationship with my many colleagues who work for groups that are funded by the government. But now, especially now, we need groups that are free from mental health system strings. We need groups to be activist.  

MindFreedom is a positive way to challenge this oppression. And now we must all come through for MindFreedom.

We Can All Learn From The Disability Movement

The disability movement is one of the biggest in the world, though we usually think of “disability” as being only about part of the population. Perhaps now we can realize that the disability movement encompasses every single person and their whole life, all the time. Let me explain.

It has been about four years since I fell off a ladder and broke my neck, becoming a quad in a powerchair with some additional challenges: An impaired voice. My fingers that used to type more than a hundred words a minute, and played improvisational piano music for 50 years, now cannot move independently.

For the past few years, I have been doing physical therapy, vocal exercises, and even had a surgical implant in my vocal fold. And now I am coming out of my rehab closet to encourage you to free your minds, and support MindFreedom International with your time and money.

A few days ago, I talked with my friend, the brilliant retired psychologist, Al Galves, of New Mexico. Al is MindFreedom Treasurer, and he reports: “From 2004 when I joined the Board to 2012 when David got hurt, MindFreedom received at least $65,000 a year in membership dues, donations and grants. Since David’s accident we have been limping along on less than $10,000 a year.” I guess that is a kind of compliment for me, but the bottom line is that my accident took quite a toll on MindFreedom.

“This is understandable,” said Al. He went on to say this about the difference between when I worked for MindFreedom and when I retired: “David was spending a lot of his time on membership relations and fundraising. Without a full-time, paid Executive Director we were unable to sustain that kind of income.”

I asked the MindFreedom board how we can all be supportive. Al said: “We are hoping that this appeal to our long-time members, friends and supporters will gain us enough money to rebuild our membership relations and fundraising capacity and return to our previous level of activity.”

Each one of us is called to support MindFreedom with both donations and also your time. Please help MindFreedom immediately. If you need more motivation, here are my top seven reasons why it is time to volunteer and/or donate to MFI now:

  1. Resist Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs! At about the same time as the election, less noticed was this tragedy: The US Congress fell down, too, when it voted overwhelmingly in favor of the multi-billion dollar 21st Century Cures Act. This was a huge bill, but deep down inside it included millions of federal dollars in support of outpatient coercive psychiatric drugging, from what was once called “the Murphy bill.” That’s right, the federal government will now support, with taxpayer dollars, getting a court order and forcing many Americans to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will, while living at home out in the community. Note that this awful idea came from a “small government” politician, Tim Murphy (R-PA). We need independent, activist groups such as MindFreedom to challenge what amounts to chemical warfare. Studies show that this outpatient forced psychiatric drugging is disproportionately done to people of color. #BlackLivesMatter!
  2. Yes, USA Psychiatrists Still Do Involuntary Electroshock! By far my favorite campaigns at MindFreedom were stopping occasional instances of forced electroshock, which is electricity to the brain. Here in the USA, electroshock is usually signed for by the patient, but there is still the use of involuntary electroshock, now and again. Incredibly, sometimes forced shock is done even with a court order on an outpatient basis. For example, direct your search engine to: Ray Sandford. Every Wednesday morning, a van picked him in his group home in Minnesota for another court-ordered involuntary electroshock at a nearby hospital. Ray phoned us for help and we activated thousands and of course won. Want to unite good Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Libertarians? Fight forced shock, and all good Americans of all political persuasions are outraged. All you have to do is prove that forced shock is a reality, such as producing court papers. MindFreedom is the main group to expose and fight this atrocity, which is actually pretty common in poorer countries.
  3. Let’s Support People Who Are Resisting and Escaping Their Forced Outpatient Psych Drugs. Here is a “creative maladjustment” to the absurdity of the USA Congress approving millions for involuntary outpatient psychiatric care: Almost all USA States have these outpatient commitment laws. MindFreedom has over the years supported about a half-dozen American citizens who have pursued their own underground railroad to evade forced outpatient drugging. A weak spot in forced outpatient treatment, is that people can simply leave their region or State to escape. You may read about one of these successful escapes by directing your search engine to this phrase: gabriel hadd mindfreedom. One proponent of forced outpatient drugging knows about this vulnerability, and has even discussed his need for a federal extradition law. But at this time, there is no such law. Yet. Today, there is no known underground railroad for psychiatric survivors. The MindFreedom family supports human rights and can applaud people who create such an underground railroad for themselves, so if anyone could support such a sanctuary movement, it would be MindFreedom. There is even a great name for such a campaign: C/S/X Railroad. Let’s make this support real, by proposing this idea! (Note that I am not on the MFI board, and this is a proposal.)
  4. During a Crisis, Let’s Use Alternative Supports. MindFreedom has pointed the way to common sense, humane options other than corporate mental health. Create your small group for mutual support. At any moment we all can use creative thinking right now, the mind is free! Al Galves said this: “In 2014, 2015 and 2016 MindFreedom held ‘Creative Revolution in Mental Health’ conferences in which we advocated, promoted and supported alternatives to the medical model in mental health. These were well-attended, full of energy and inspiring to those great people who have created these alternatives.”
  5. MindFreedom is for Revolution! For many years, the MindFreedom mission statement has included a call for a “nonviolent revolution.” In fact, the Wikipedia page about “nonviolent revolution” has long included MindFreedom International as a model of a group with that goal. For example, Martin Luther King would say that the salvation of the world may lay in the hands of the “creatively maladjusted.” He repeatedly brought up this theme for more than a decade. MLK said the world was in dire need of an International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. This IAACM was a dream of MLK that never became realized. But MindFreedom has made the IAACM real, and the physician psychiatric survivor Patch Adams is the honorary chair. The IAACM will soon launch a new project, for a preview see: http://www.LoveEarthRevolution.org Celia Brown, an African American psychiatric survivor activist, leads the hard-working board of MindFreedom. She said: “We need independent, activist and civil rights groups to challenge mass incarceration, oppressive psychiatric laws and racism that threaten the wellbeing of our people. MindFreedom encourages your voice to liberate mind, body and spirit, create non-violent alternatives and human rights for all. I’m proud to be creatively maladjusted.”
  6. This Grassroots Group Uses Every Donation Effectively! MindFreedom has a very specific and effective goal that can be reached with your donation: A new website. However, MindFreedom has many great ways to use every dollar that is donated to them. Janet Foner, long-time board member and co-founder of MFI, said “Donate to MFI to help us run our campaigns, to help us do another MFI Creative Revolution Conference, and to help us spread the word to new affiliates, etc.” Please help them today. You can support MFI by donating and/or volunteering, especially with the Shield and support calls.
  7. MindFreedom is a Powerful Way to Unite! Even after retiring from MFI’s staff, and now as “just” a member, I find being in touch with MFI is a way to be a part of a great community. One of the biggest challenges for me as an organizer during my time at MindFreedom, is that many of us psychiatric survivors prefer to pursue our own individual paths, like lone wolves. But even lone wolves might benefit now and again by travelling in a pack! I have met so many people who are grateful for MindFreedom putting them in touch with our social change movement. Sue Barnhart, a social worker with more than 30 years experience said, “MindFreedom may be the first organization that people find that offers alternatives to medication, such as education and support.”

To get involved with MindFreedom, see MFI’s website at: http://www.mindfreedom.org

To go directly to the DONATE button on the right side of the home page, click here: http://www.mindfreedom.org/join-donate

To see MFI’s Facebook page, search for MindFreedom International, or go directly here: https://www.facebook.com/MindFreedom-International-33579368821/?fref=ts

Those interested may stay in touch with me: davidwoaks@gmail.com. My blog is at www.davidwoaks.com

Please forward this appeal to support MindFreedom to others who understand the value of free, united minds!

An earlier post was on the same day, February 17, as a General Strike, which turned out to be more of a practice day for May Day. For more info about the General Strike, go here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1190364557743669/

National link:

http://www.strike4democracy.com/

That day was also a very important day for me, February 17, which is the commemoration for Giordano Bruno, the last person to be burnt at the stake in the Inquisition, back in 1600. As readers of my blog know, Bruno is very important to my family, starting with my grandfather.

Here on this blog:

February 17th is a great day for free minds and to remember Giordano Bruno!

On the web:

http://freethoughtalmanac.com/?p=1390

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

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