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History of the Mad Movement & Alternatives to a Biomedical Model

  • Community Access Inc 17 Battery Place New York, NY, 10004 United States (map)

October 20th 2018

TIME: 10:00AM-4:00PM

Mental health in New York City -- and the United States at large -- is in a state of crisis. Contemporary practice is driven by a dated paradigm that reduces mental health conditions to disorders of the brain, while erasing the numerous other factors that impact our mental health (e.g. trauma, adverse life experiences, socio-economic status, social exclusion, discrimination, and lack of access to important resources). As a recent report by a UN Special Rapporteur indicates, the prevailing biomedical model has contributed to the exclusion, neglect, coercion, and abuse of those who experience mental distress, while showing few positive results to justify its measures.

For at least three decades, organized movements led by current and former users of mental health services have played a critical role in calling attention to the failures of traditional mental health services to meet their needs and secure their rights. However narratives driven by those of us lived experience have not yet reached a critical mass. Today, many researchers and clinicians are beginning to understand the complexity of factors that influence mental health outcomes, and are calling to reform the way we diagnose and treat individuals.

There is a push to promote an overall narrative of mental health that addresses contextual determinants, empowers rights holders, fosters independence, eliminates stigma, and gives a voice to current and prior mental health service users. As we apply a critical lens to the “medicate and separate” institutional model, and promote new frameworks for understanding mental health, we create the potential to produce a mental health system that will truly make a difference in the lives of those it seeks to serve.

This class will explore:

  • An overview of the political and social landscape that bolstered the biopsychiatry model from the 1980s until now

  • The widespread impacts of big pharma, the marketing of psychotropic medication, and cultural reforms in response

  • Alternative frameworks for understanding mental health (e.g. social, trauma-informed, and generative)

  • A brief history of the mad movement and human rights reform in mental health

  • The power of lived experience and listening to the voices of survivors of trauma and adversity.

This class is part of a larger mental health continuing education course series:

Experience Transforms Practice:

A Course on Liberatory Mental Health Care