Oaks Vlog #1: Mental Health, Disability & Revolution

David W. Oaks Vlog text:

Mental Health, Disability & Revolution

7 December 2020

Joe Biden’s Federal Mental Health Agencies

I love you. I am David W. Oaks. And I love you if you’re quadriplegic/tetraplegic like me. If you are a psychiatric survivor like me. Or if you’re not any of those.

My friend, the late Justin Dart, Jr. was a leader in disability. He connected mental health and physical disability. He said over and over and over:

“No forced treatment ever!”

And now I think he would say:

“Black Lives Matter!”

I love you whether you’re a relative who’s a Democrat. And I love my relatives who are Republicans. Justin worked with both.

And as Joe Biden becomes President, I encourage his administration to look at federal mental health agencies. Look at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Why don’t they look more at alternatives? Like Peer Support?

And I especially would encourage Joe Biden’s administration, and everyone in the US and the world,to look at the SAMHSA. That stands for the “Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.”

I’ve done this work for 44 years, and for decades SAMHSA was an ally. They supported empowerment, recovery, alternatives.

But under the wonderful Obama, who I support, they began funding cities for involuntary outpatient commitment. This is court-ordered outpatient mental health.

Now this has been going on quietly all over the US, for decades for thousands of Americans. Your home becomes an institution. You’re court-ordered to usually take drugs, powerful drugs.

Sadly, SAMHSA began funding several dozen sites, with millions of dollars. I’ve tried to get information from them.

They refuse.

Please help. Because SAMHSA is refusing to disclose. One year ago, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request, and they still have not told me anything about these programs, in terms of evaluating. One fact is that black people tend to be in these programs more than white people.

Right now, I chair a subcommittee, for a work group in the Oregon legislature, for the Voice & Inclusion of Oregonians with Lived Experience of the Mental Health System. We are concerned about the way alternatives to police violence, like CAHOOTS here in Eugene, Oregon, need to include the peer perspective, or else they can be a gateway to outpatient commitment.

Last week, we met with a representative of CAHOOTS, and they are interested in the peer perspective. Cities all over the US and Canada are looking at CAHOOTS as a model. Our local Affiliate of MindFreedom, MindFreedom Oregon, is looking at these issues.

Wherever you are in the world, you can create an Affiliate of MindFreedom, like MindFreedom Ghana or MindFreedom Ireland, who are doing great work. Or you can use your group’s name and simply be a Sponsor of MindFreedom by endorsing the principles.

I congratulate the National Council on Independent Living. Their Mental Health Subcommittee has adopted MindFreedom’s Shield campaign. And NCIL plans to reach hundreds of Independent Living Centers about this Shield program.

Today, the climate crisis threatens vulnerable people. COVID is related to climate crisis and the way we treat our environment. For us to live seven generations in the future, we absolutely need a revolution, the sooner the better.

But we will have one.

Please look at SAMHSA.

And Lead On!

Thank you.

I love you all.


David W. Oaks is a Revolutionary Consultant with Aciu! Institute (aciu.info). 

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Creativity & Mental Health: Planning for a Special, Free Event for Opal Network

Dear Opal Network supporter,

Mural of Opal Whiteley in Cottage Grove, OR
A mural of Opal Whiteley

A decade ago here in Eugene, Oregon we formed an informal coalition of more than a dozen agencies that work on mental health.

Our goal: To increase the empowerment and self-determination of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors here in Lane County, Oregon.

We are planning a fun event for October 2019 for Opal Network.

We have two more planning meetings before this event and we hope you attend one or both.

For a flyer about the below information, click here:

The first planning meeting is being held as part of the next MindFreedom Oregon grassroots meeting, which can be found on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/599661783770501/

In Support,

David

David Oaks

Opal Network

Here is the text from the flyer:

Save the Date: Free October Public Event by Opal Network

Creativity & Mental Wellness in Lane County

Music, Art, Poetry for Empowerment in Mental Health

You are invited to be a planner for this special Fall celebration!

Where: Trauma Healing Project

              1100 Charnelton St., Eugene, OR

Dates:

1st Planning Mtg: This Fri. 9/6/2019

2 pm – 3 pm

2nd Planning Mtg: Fri. 10/4/2019

2 pm – 3 pm

Main Event: Tues. 10/29/2019

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Hosts: Christina Peirsol & David W. Oaks

Your ideas & time are important for this fun community gathering. Help plan & join in the excitement!

All are welcome. All agencies and groups that work in mental health in Lane County are encouraged to send representatives.

We especially invite mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors to attend & speak out!

Opal Network:

A Lane County coalition to support the self-determination, voice and empowerment of clients of mental health services. Get involved!

Started in 2007, this free public forum in Eugene is named after Opal Whiteley [1897 – 1992], a famous author with a psychiatric diagnosis who was born and raised in Lane County.

Thank you to Opal Network Sponsors:

• Aciu Institute • Center for Family Development • Direction Service • Eugene Office of Human Rights • Lane County Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Advisory Council • Lane Independent Living Alliance • Laurel Hill Center • MindFreedom Oregon • NAMI Lane County • Oregon Consumer/Survivor Coalition • Oregon Family Support Network • PeaceHealth Counseling Services • Sexual Assault Support Services • ShelterCare • Trauma Healing Project • White Bird/CAHOOTS

 Free refreshments!

Wheelchair accessible.

Sign language if 72 hours notice.Dear Opal Network planner,

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8 Ways I Am Celebrating July 2019 as Mad Pride Month. How will you celebrate next July 2020?

Leonard Roy Frank
Leonard Roy Frank, one of the main heroes of the psychiatric survivor movement! Mad Pride! Leonard especially fought electroschock.

Today is 15 July 2019, and we honor the birthday of the late great Leonard Roy Frank, one of the main psychiatric survivor leaders of our modern era, and a good friend (his photo is on the left). I have blogged about Leonard before, and Mad Pride Month needs to celebrate Leonard: http://davidwoaks.com/my-friend-leonard-roy-frank

Leonard supported grassroots activism wherever you are. Our local group, MindFreedom Oregon, is a state affiliate of the human rights coalition MindFreedom International. We support calling this whole month of July, Mad Pride Month!

You probably did not hear about this call for July becoming Mad Pride Month since we have only told a few folks. It’s not too late for the rest of the month! How have you celebrated this month, perhaps accidentally? Especially, what ideas do you have for next year, July 2020, to celebrate Mad Pride? Do you support making July Mad Pride Month? If so, please contact us, there are many ways to assist this, see Mad Pride Social Media Volunteers below.

Yesterday was Bastille Day, 14 July 2019. One of the reasons July should be Mad Pride Month is that for decades, leaders in the psychiatric survivor movement have used Bastille Day to celebrate the human spirit and oppose psychiatric oppression and tyranny. One of the main activities each year is a three-day camping vigil in front of the New York State mental health agency in Albany. This vigil wrapped up yesterday. For more info about their event, their Facebook link for this vigil is here.

Here are eight ways I am celebrating Mad Pride this July:

  1. Way to go, my good friend Rev. Phil Schulman! He was one of the keynote speakers at the annual Alternatives Conference, which has just been held in DC. Incredibly, people are searching for a video or audio recording of Phil’s speech! Accidents may happen, but I call Phil “The Movement Minister” and getting out his message is a high priority. Hopefully, someone will find a recording of Phil’s keynote. After years of leading congregations, mainly Unitarian Universalist, Phil experienced a serious head injury about a year and a half ago. His resilience, love, and leadership are so very important to our movement.
  2. Opal Network: Here in Oregon, one of the main literary heroes was psychiatric survivor Opal Whiteley. About a decade ago, we created an informal coalition called the Opal Network which has spoken out for the empowerment of local mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. We meet every time a month has five Tuesdays, about four times a year, so that means our next public gathering will be Tuesday, 30 July 2019. Our theme will be how the arts can support mental and emotional well-being, and psychiatric survivor liberation. Psychiatric survivor Chrissy Peirsol and I plan to host a round table at the downtown Eugene Trauma Healing Project, 11th and Charnelton, at 3:30 pm. We will have a web video Zoom call, so you can participate for free wherever you live. Interested? Please email us at: opalnetwork@protonmail.com
  3. World’s Biggest Sneeze! A few days ago, several of us in MindFreedom Oregon gave a presentation at a stage in Community Village, as part of the celebration of the 50th Annual Oregon Country Fair (if you’re new to OCF, watch some videos of this wild hippie gathering in the woods here). During our event, we held the World’s Biggest Sneeze! Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah… CHOO! We are allergic to what is called “normality” which actually does not exist! Our household plays a simple game you can join: Whenever we hear the word “normal” on the radio, TV, or conversation, we sneeze! The first to sneeze wins. Try it!
  4. When society is crazy & paralyzed, who are you gonna call? The Mad Pride Movement! Because of the climate crisis, 100% of humanity is clearly part of the Mad Pride Movement. We are all traumatized by the disaster. We all confront the mystery of understanding the universe. Do not wait to understand it all, act now. Those of you in the Eugene, Oregon area, please join me at an Extinction Rebellion potluck and talk on Wednesday, 31 July 2019, 6:30 pm, at our Unitarian Universalist Church. If you are outside the Eugene area, you probably live on Earth and so can take part in this nonviolent Extinction Revolution wherever you are. The Mad Pride Movement celebrates your creative way of thinking & acting. We are the new PC: Positively Crazy!
  5. Mad Pride Social Media Volunteers: To connect with those of you who are curious or supportive of a Mad Pride Month, we at MindFreedom Oregon are creating several social media places. If you would like to assist, and perhaps co-moderate, contact mf-oregon@aciu.info. Social media include: Reddit, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook.
  6. Remember Creative Maladjustment Week! For more than a decade, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. commented about creative maladjustment over and over. He even said the world was in dire need of an “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.” MindFreedom International produced a guide to celebrate being maladjusted every July 7-14, Creative Maladjustment Week! And of course, this is near the middle of July, now Mad Pride Month.
  7. A State Senator in Oregon Wants to Hear from Psychiatric Survivors, Mental Health Consumers, and Our Allies. My friend, State Senator Floyd Prozanski, pushed for two mental health bills this past session in the Salem, Oregon legislature. We Oregon psychiatric survivors/mental health consumers heard about these proposals and we expressed our deep concern. Thankfully, both bills failed this past session which just ended in Mad Pride Month, July! Yay! Now, I promised Sen. Prozanski that we would provided him with civil input about human rights & choice in mental health. Please email him at: Sen.FloydProzanski@oregonlegislature.gov. Please copy your comments to: mf-oregon@aciu.info
  8. Something for Everyone! I know Mad Pride may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I figured out that if a couple conceives today, their baby might be born on 15 April, tax day. This would seem to be a great Normal Shame Day, so that if anyone rejects Mad Pride Day they can always be part of that. If your baby is born on Normal Shame Day, do not worry, this is definitely not normal and your child will be a hero of the Mad Pride Movement!

Your ideas, feedback, jeers, cheers, suggestions, support, strangeness are all welcome in the comment area below, or on my Facebook page. Thanks!

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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.

 

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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.

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