Some Mental Health Justice Resources Related to Unitarian Universalism

Below please find a few links for people who are active with Unitarian Universalist churches and the topic of mental health justice.

Please note this list is not officially connected to any church. However, I am a UU member who has worked for 40 years on mental health activism. 

These resources are an ongoing project, so check back later and there may some changes.

uu-mental-health-justice-graphicFacebook group on the topic of UU Mental Health Justice:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/uumentalhealthjustice/

One of the main pioneers to work on mental health issues is the UU minister Rev. Barbara Meyers. You can find information about her and her many projects here:

http://www.mpuuc.org/mentalhealth/mentalintro.html

One of the main UU ministers to embrace the mental health justice movement is Rev. Phil Schulman. You can find him on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/RebShaman?fref=ts

One of his projects is Advocates for Humanity, which you can find on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/AdvocatesForHumanity

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Update: My Open Letter to Linda Vigen Phillips, Author of the New Young Adult Novel “Crazy”

Update: The author has replied, and you can read this November 14, 2014 update at the bottom of this,

Here in Eugene, Oregon, I heard a radio interview with the author of a young adult novel called “Crazy,” and I hoped that the author would challenge some mental health oppression during her book tour here in Oregon. After all, her semi-autobiographical fiction novel is about growing up in Klamath Falls, Oregon with a mom who has severe mental and emotional problems. Unfortunately, the radio interview seemed to turn into a promotion of the conventional mental health system.

Below is my open public letter to this author to ask that she questions the mental health industry more in her book tour:

Cover of the book "Crazy"

The Young Adult Novel “Crazy” is by author Linda Vigen Phillips.

Dear Linda Vigen Phillips,

At first, when I heard the interview with you on my local radio station KLCC-FM today, I was enthused about the possibilities for your book tour. I had high expectations that you can challenge mental health oppression.

For the past 40 years I have been working to change the mental health system as a person who survived abuse by the psychiatric system as a teenager. So I’m optimistic that your book tour could give many teens struggling with these issues a great amount of hope.

However, during your interview, I felt very disheartened because the message seemed to support the current mental health industry, which I feel needs to be overthrown completely. You seem to be such a caring and smart author with the intent of supporting psychiatric survivors and our families. So below I ask some questions that I would love to hear a reply to, and most importantly, I urge you to open dialogue with your audiences about these issues throughout your book tour.

I have not yet read your young adult novel, “Crazy,” but I know you are reaching many of us who have psychiatric diagnoses and family members, such as during your book tour visit to one of my favorite bookstores, Tsunami Books. Several times over the past few years, Tsunami Books has hosted some great psychiatric survivor authors, poets, musicians and other creative folks. So please take my questions in the friendly manner they are offered to you:

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Robin Williams or Patch Adams? Watch Brief Message from David Oaks to Mad In America International Event

Update: We have the winners of this film festival! For more info, click here.

 

You may watch a little eight-minute video message, below, I sent this past Sunday, October 12, 2014, especially created to be shown during the gala dinner for the Mad In America International Film Festival, which brought together many movies that challenge the mental health industry. I wish I could have been there physically because this certainly was one of the main Mad Culture events of the season and many activists, film makers, and other creative folks were in attendance.

My amazing wife Debra repeated my sentences so that everyone could hear my disabled voice and not miss a precious word. My good friend David Zupan, who is making a documentary about me, videoed us on our backyard deck. In the background, you may see our guest cottage, which used to be my writing studio. This is where I fell from a ladder while reaching up in our loft for our cat, Bongo, and broke my neck back in December 2012.

In the video, I mention that many of us love Robin Williams, but I choose to follow the path of joy, life, and love created by Patch Adams, who Robin portrayed in the movie by that name. My friend Patch is a psychiatric survivor who, as a young person, was suicidal and decided to make a life change to embrace the world, flawed as it may be.

Here is the video message, followed by some links to info that I mention:

My blog about global warming and mental health: http://www.davidwoaks.com/eugene-area-chamber-global-warming

My blog where I, PsychoQuad, go to the movies, written because of the film festival: http://www.davidwoaks.com/psychoquad-movies

You can read about the Mad In America International Film Festival and the many great movies: http://madinamericainternationalfilmfestival.com/

Some other videos by David Zupan, including the building of Debra’s dream, an accessible path for me to our back garden: http://vimeo.com/user1758711/videos

By the way, Patch proudly does not get on the Internet (his employees do though). The great news is that Patch responds to every written message that he gets by old-fashion postal mail. You may just get a postcard back, but this pretty famous celebrity personally answers every letter. Thank him for being honorary chair for International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment! If that concept, first announced by Martin Luther King, is new to you just google it. Anyway, write to Patch here:

Patch Adams MD & Gesundheit Institute
P.O. Box 307
Urbana, IL 61803 USA

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PsychoQuad Goes to the Movies: The Power of Sex, Bettie Page and Art Overthrow Psychiatry

Over the decades, I have had the good fortune to be immersed in what many of us call Mad Culture. In various cities, at a number of events, there would be a confluence of writers, researchers, artists, and otherwise creative people who all wanted to peacefully overthrow the psychiatric industry and find a new way of helping people in crisis. I am glad to hear that one of your chances for Mad Culture will be from October 9-12, 2014 in Massachusetts, because the Mad In America International Film Festival will bring many film titles and speakers together. In fact, I have been invited to speak for a few minutes via Skype near the end of this great event.

I wish I could be there physically, but in honor of this Mad film event, here are some movies that I have watched lately, along with my brief review.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/87/Betty-Page-Reveals-All-poster.jpgBettie Page Reveals All (2012, Documentary, 101 min., via Netflix streaming)

That’s right, one of the main pin-up personalities from the 20th century was a psychiatric survivor. Bettie Page was famous as a charismatic and sexual model whose images are still admired long after her death. This documentary reveals that from 1979 to 1992, after the height of her fame, Bettie Page was in psychiatric institutions in California.

This film is mainly a lot of fun, showing her history and how she became one of the leading underground characters in Americana. In fact, she may be more popular today than in the 20th century. There is a very sad part of this story though, because Bettie Page was a trauma survivor, her childhood was awful, she experienced abuse as an adult, and the men in her life were mainly negative. When Bettie retires down in Florida, her past seems to catch up with her and she ends up having a major mental crisis.

You can watch this documentary on Netflix and I highly recommend it. Bettie Page is a fascinating person, and you can get some insight into how our society misinterprets trauma as “mental illness.”

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Your Local Chamber of Commerce and Global Warming: Can You Help?

Your Local Chamber of Commerce and Global Warming: Can You Help?

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, here in Eugene Oregon, I participated, with my wonderful wife Debra, in a local rally to support the major march in New York City for climate justice.

Everyone and every group working for mental health justice ought to make fighting global warming a priority right now. Of course, the whole disability movement, and in fact all sentient beings should be concerned about climate crisis, but those of us working for human rights and more choices for mental wellness have special reasons to make this planetary catastrophe a unifying theme for all of us.

Martin Luther King frequently talked about the importance of creative maladjustment as an answer to oppression, and many environmentalists are wondering where humanity’s creativity and maladjustment are right about now. The Mad Movement knows that the psychiatric industry has ground down the human spirit for centuries, but we never ever give up! MLK resisted the war in Vietnam toward the end of his life, and some civil rights activists were mystified that he seemed to be off topic. However, MLK knew that we are all in one big movement for the “beloved community,” as he put it.

But if you need something very specific to connect the Mad Movement to global warming, here it is: Those of us called psychotic are often coerced to take neuroleptic drugs (sometimes called antipsychotics), and these drugs are well known to suppress the temperature-regulatory part of the brain. During a heat wave, prison reformers have been talking about how horrible it is that those in non-air-conditioned prisons where people are forced to take these drugs often die. Well, most USA states have laws allowing citizens to be forcibly court-ordered to take these drugs while living at home out in the community.

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Psychiatric Survivor Activist Blogs as PsychoQuad for a Revolution in Mental Health, Major Website Picks Up for Global Re-Distribution

EUGENE, OR — FALL 2014 — News Release

A photo of David W. Oaks

David W. Oaks, aka PsychoQuad

A recent blog entry by long-time activist David Oaks is receiving quite a lot of attention among fellow activists working for major change of the mental health industry. In the blog, David tells his friend Marcia’s story of mental health rights abuse and activism. He writes, “Marcia’s story riveted me because it involves activism, madness, psychiatric torture of her beloved daughter, Unitarianism, secret poisoned-pen letters, Scientology and global warming!”  The story is certainly intriguing, and has quickly gathered more than 30 lively comments.

It has been 40 years since David W. Oaks was locked up for the first of five times by the psychiatric system. For 25 years he served as director of MindFreedom International, one of the main independent human rights groups in mental health. Then he broke his neck, and for the last 18 months he has been in a powerchair with a new label of “quad.” He prefers PsychoQuad, and people can find his new website name www.psychoquad.com. David W. Oaks continues to speak out, and he is making waves.

Today, Oaks devotes himself to the intersection of the mental health system, disability and the environmental destruction of planet Earth resulting in global warming. Oaks calls this dangerous combination Normalgeddon.

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My Top 11 Ways to Reunite for a Mental Health Revolution!

My very good friend Marcia Meyers of Portland, Oregon is one of the most powerful leaders I have seen in my nearly 40 years of activism in the little-known movement for deep change in the mental health industry. She joined my amazing wife Debra, some friends and me for a backyard party at our Eugene home this summer and brought to my attention an issue that deserves a larger audience. Marcia’s story riveted me because it involves activism, madness, psychiatric torture of her beloved daughter, Unitarianism, secret poisoned-pen letters, Scientology and global warming!

So while I have been blogging for a few years, please understand that this post is the longest one yet. The major web site Mad in America, which is now like the Huffington Post of over-throwing psychiatry and inspired by the books of journalist Bob Whitaker, is picking up my blog for re-distribution. My primary concern here is with honoring the incredible work of Marcia and her group Rethinking Psychiatry. Marcia can teach our whole social change movement an important lesson about unity that can help all people as we struggle against environmental catastrophe, which I call “Normalgeddon.”

I include my top 11 ways that our Mad Movement can reunite, none of which involved any religion.

Thank you Marcia Meyers!

Marcia Meyers, mother of a psychiatric survivor and activist with the Unitarian Universalist church in Portland, Oregon.

Marcia Meyers, mother of a psychiatric survivor and activist with the Unitarian Universalist church in Portland, Oregon.

Marcia is a 68-year-old, effusive retired teacher, who in her own words, “Identifies, in this order, as a grandmother, a teacher and an activist.” She dedicated 33 years to teaching in the public school system, during which she was active in the teacher’s union, both locally and nationally. Marcia describes this work as foundational to the activism that would follow. As she puts it, “From my many years of teaching and my years of union work I honed my skills as an organizer and activist.”

Marcia retired in 1999 and attended the World Trade Organization protest, the huge Battle in Seattle, later that year. This event was particularly transformative. She told me, “The new and privileged freedom of retirement along with this historic event catapulted me into local and national economic justice activist work.” It was in the wake of the Battle in Seattle that Marcia began her work with the Economic Justice Action Group of the First Unitarian Church of Portland. This branch of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) church is one of the largest congregations ever, and for five years, has provided a safe, supportive home and platform for Marcia to fight corporate personhood.

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