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MindFreedom International is an international coalition of over one hundred grassroots groups and thousands of individual members from fourteen nations. It was founded in 1988 to advocate against forced medication, medical restraints, and involuntary electroconvulsive therapy. Its stated mission is to protect the rights of people who have been labeled with psychiatric disorders. A majority of MindFreedom members identify themselves as survivors of human rights violations in the mental health system; membership, however, is open to anyone who supports human rights, including mental health professionals, advocates, activists and family members.[1] MindFreedom has been recognized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council as a human rights NGO with Consultative Roster Status.[2]

Contents

Origins and purpose

MindFreedom International is rooted in the psychiatric survivors movement, or more widely the Consumer/Survivor/Ex-Patient Movement, which arose directly out of the civil rights ferment of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and indirectly out of a longer history of campaigns against abuses of the psychiatric system. Many of the members of MFI, who feel that their human rights were violated by the mental health system, refer to themselves as 'psychiatric survivors.' In late 1988, leaders from several of the main national and grassroots psychiatric survivor groups felt that an independent, human rights coalition focused on problems in the mental health system was needed. They formed Support Coalition International (SCI), which later became MFI. SCI's first public action was to stage a counter-conference and protest in New York City, in May, 1990, at the same time as (and directly outside of) the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting.[3]

Range of campaigns

  • Psychiatric Industry Watch: Criticizes what it sees as pharmaceutical industry financial and political influences upon the direction of 'mental health.' For example, the Watch focuses on the pharmaceutical industry's indirect support and direct lobbying for laws that create civil "outpatient commitment" that enable authorities to administer psychiatric medication involuntarily in the community, e.g., in a patient's home without involuntary hospitalization. MFI's activities have placed it in direct opposition to the pharmaceutical industry, resulting in legal action against MFI.[4]
  • The Right to Remember: Seeks to end involuntary electroconvulsive therapy by publicizing instances of forced electroconvulsive treatment and lobbying decision-makers to stop such practices.
  • Oral Histories: Compiles and publicizes psychiatric survivor stories detailing the experiences of those who have been through the mental health system. The stories promulgated aim to document abuse by the mental health system and the success stories of individuals who attained a state of stable remission and were able to regain self-direction, usually by disengaging from traditional mental health treatment,
  • Mad Pride: Advocates self-determination among those deemed 'mad'. The coalition has proclaimed July as "Mad Pride Month", and supports events around the world celebrating some of the myriad aspects of 'madness,' i.e., those aspects which are seen as positive.[5]
  • International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment (IAACM): Promotes the right to be nonviolently maladjusted. IAACM is currently chaired by Patch Adams, MD.

MindFreedom Shield Program

MindFreedom describes their Shield Program as "an all for one and one for all" network of members. When a registered member is receiving (or is being considered for) involuntary psychiatric treatment, an alert is sent to the MindFreedom Solidarity Network on that person's behalf. Members of the network are then expected to participate in organized, constructive, nonviolent actions---e.g., political action, publicity and media alerts, passive resistance, etc.---to stop or prevent the forced treatment.

References

  1. ^ Introductory FAQ's about MFI — MFI Portal
  2. ^ United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs - NGO Section
  3. ^ About Us — MFI Portal
  4. ^ New York Times article about Eli Lilly's suppression of documents indicating that they hid information about one of their drugs (Zyprexa). An injunction against two advocacy groups, including MFI was noted.
  5. ^ New York Times article about Mad Pride referencing MFI

See also

External links and References








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