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On The Human Rights Of “Mental” People

Australia, has become one of the worst countries in the developed world for the abuse of people suffering with mental health problems. If you are one of the 5 million or so Australians who at the moment are feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless or are struggling to cope and you turn to any of the public mental health services for help or support you are at risk of being involuntarily confined, restrained, assaulted and subjected against your will to injections of long acting addictive medication that some describe as “torture”. If you don’t co-operate you could be subjected to electro shock (ECT) treatment. You may also be deprived of all your legal rights and are likely to receive a questionable diagnosis that will subject you to public stigmatization and label you as “mad” for the rest of your life.

According to the The United Nations Human Rights Commision, the field of mental disorder has been co-opted for purposes that suit the state and the psychiatric industry, not for purposes that suit the sufferers.

It is not only the patients who are complaining. Many mental health practitioners are also fed up with the abuses they see on a daily basis.

Most are afraid to speak out. To do so is to risk not only losing their jobs but also their professional accreditation. Many are moving on to other fields creating a shortage of competent, capable mental health professionals.

But some professionals are speaking out. One of then is an experienced Australian psychiatrist who has worked in both the prison system and with indigenous communities. Here is what Dr Niall McLaren has to say about the human rights of  “Mental” people.   More …

Niall McLaren On Critical Psychiatry

Niall  is a retired Australian psychiatrist with a lifetime of practical clinical experience. He generally takes an adversarial position towards main stream psychiatric practices. While views expressed in his articles are obviously his own, we have read some of his books and many of his publications and generally support what we regard as his common sense approach to mental health.

Subscribe directly to his articles here. If you are in a position to do so, please support his work with a donation that would undoubtedly be appreciated.  

The Pink Panther Story

Back in late 2022, a few friends with lived mental health experience got together with a view of setting up a movement to try and do something about Australia’s mental health system.

To say that we were angry hardly describes the way most of us felt about the dysfunctional mental health services and practices that have become commonplace throughout Australia. We had also lost all confidence in both governments and organisations who claimed to want to help or represent us.

In reality, our needs and voices were simply being ignored.

Many of us have been subjected to considerable violence by the Australian mental health system.

We have also noticed how passive pleas for change to government over many years has had no effect. It is generally conceded that mental health services in Australia have gotten worse.

Activism can take many forms. People like Mahatma Gandhi in India and Martin Luther King Jr in the USA were staunch supporters of non violent protest while organisations like the Black Panther Party, dealing with the same issues as Luther King took up arms against racial inequality and police brutality.

All of these people can be looked to in terms of their spirit, passion and commitment but any form of violent protest was not an option for us. It only adds to a person’s trauma and makes mental health problems worse. This is something the Australian government and many mental health practitioners seem completely unaware of.

We needed a positive way forward. We heard about something called Soteria houses that exist in various countries. They claim to offer a supportive, non-restrictive environment where individuals are treated with kindness and respect and empowered to work through their crises at their own pace. This approach seemed almost too good to be true. It has since become not only the basis for the reforms we would like to see take place in Australia but also our credo for what future mental health policy should look like.

At the time, one of our musically inclined members had been learning Henry Mancini’s well known composition “The Pink Panther Theme” for an upcoming performance. From  these unrelated entities, the idea for a name and even the somewhat spirited ethos somehow, spontaneously arose.

We changed the word “Black” in The Black Panther Movement to Pink” and The Pink Panther Movement was born.

We are a fiercely independent peer owned, operated and self funded organisation. We operate on a shoestring budget and accomplish more than many of the heavily government subsidised organisations do.

Building a Soteria Community In Australia

Soteria community houses have been around for over 50 years and have proven themselves as a gentler, kinder and more effective solution to serious (psychotic) mental health problems than  institutional psychiatric wards and hospitals. These days, Soteria type houses are mostly found in Europe but why not in Australia? 

Our article “It’s Time For Soteria:An Australian perspective” was published on Mad In America-  Click Here To Read It.  It has been distributed to a number of senior Federal politicians with whom we are currently discussing the establishment of Soteria Houses throughout Australia on a trial basis.

The Soteria Message is a plain and simple one

Mental Health is a complex phenomena which affects or impacts the whole of our society.

There is no simple or one size fits all solution but things can be dramatically improved.

You don’t have to be a psychiatrist or psychologist to realise that providing an already badly traumatised person with a safe, supportive, kind and understanding environment has to have a better long term outcome than physical restraint, violence, and involuntary drugging.

Our Pink Panther Business Group meets online using Zoom on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm Sydney/Melbourne time to discuss this and other related issues.  Anyone is welcome to attend.  Members are welcome to raise issues but should do so in writing at least two days before hand so that they can be included on the meeting agenda and interested people notified.

Please see the events page for further details.

Peer Support 

Peer support includes practical things but a lot of the time it is just a matter of listening.  Being a supportive friend can make a huge difference to someone experiencing distress.

We have been experimenting with online Zoom personal support meetings for the last couple of months. Currently we meet online at 10pm every Thursday evening (Melbourne/ Sydney time)  for about an hour. We call this online meeting the The Soteria Support Group. 

It is an integral part of our Soteria project and is based on Loren Mosher’s Soteria principles as discussed in his books Soteria: Through Madness to Deliverance, Mosher & Hendrix and Community Mental Health, Mosher and Burti.  When I last looked these books were  available only in hard copy format from Amazon. Needless to say, neither of these books are considered to be mainstream mental health practice then or even more so today.

It is envisaged that there will eventually be other online group meetings on other days and times but we have to start somewhere. Once the numbers build up in a particular area, physical meetings at a central meeting place such as a local coffee shop will become possible and can easily and informally be arranged for those who wish to do so. Full online anonymity is possible for those who want and/or need it.

There is no membership, no sign ups and no fees. Just come along. You or anyone you know are welcome to join us.  

Zoom Meeting Details

Time and Day : 10pm every Thursday
Zoom link :https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85631956173?pwd=RE05aPXgAMBZo8KVaA3g5BruXXkZ9U.1
Meeting ID: 856 3195 6173
Passcode: 649056

Promoting Mental Health Reform

This is a place to build relationships with like minded people who want to try and collectively do something about the sometimes horrific mental health practices taking place in Australia.  As individuals acting alone we typically find ourselves isolated and without a public voice. We are also very vulnerable to those who are all too ready to take advantage of our situation.

Dealing with mental health problems is difficult enough. We don’t need the additional burden of individuals or organisations who think they have the right to treat us like children or worse. We can also do without poor quality, unaffordable or unavailable services as well as laws that deprive us of our human rights, justify institutionalized abuse and believe it or not even condone involuntary archaic practices that  are commonly considered dangerous, ineffective and regarded by some as torture.

Telling Our Stories

We would welcome help from anyone who is an expert in social media as well as  visual artists, writers, musical composers and anyone interested in animation, preferably using the free animation software program Blender.  Our first Mad Music Video called Sanity and Madness is currently in production and is scheduled for public release at the end of March 2024. We anticipate producing a number of these music videos. Their purpose is to address the false information about mental health that has been widely spread around the world by vested interests. This is  particularly the case for many young people who have sometimes been woefully misinformed by state mental health services and others.  

Please note that like every job in our organisation, these are voluntary. 

 

What You Can do – 

  • Join this movement. Every member counts. We need numbers to make our concerns and opinions count.
  • Volunteer to become a “committee member” and become involved in the day to day discussions and our efforts in lobbying members of parliament and others who drive mental health policy in Australia. 
  • Become aware of what is going on and talk to anyone who will listen.
  • Have your say online by responding to articles or write an  article yourself.
  • Help where you can. This is a voluntary organisation where we try and help each other to the best of our abilities. There are lots of jobs, both large and small that need doing to keep a movement like this going and getting results. 

 

We are not anti-psychiatry, anti-psychology, anti-medication, anti-government  nor are we mental illness deniers.

We are opposed to involuntary treatment, involuntary confinement, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment including  punishment or  torture in accordance with  the World Health Organisation  (WHO) Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 and the United Nations  Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
We are also opposed to treating human beings who are unfortunate enough to succumb to mental health problems (it can happen to anybody) as sub humans who deserve contempt and abuse, rather than compassionate help and support. 

We are  aware that many people working in mental health services share these concerns but often feel powerless to do much about the current situation.

We support the international Mad Pride movement including Mad In America, website and magazine.  Some of the best and kindest people in the world refer to themselves as mad. Turn your madness into an asset and at the same time, help put a stop to those who think of us or try and treat us as broken or inferior.

 

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