Below are some links to organizations and websites that may be helpful to people who want to think seriously and critically about the meaning of “mental illness”. Some of these resources suggest more scientific, logical and humane models for understanding people’s private confusions, distress and struggles – as well as similarly constructive models for helping people.
For those interested in references of further articles and books that support VIP’s perspective and approach to helping people, please see the “Professional References” that are listed below these organizations and websites.
The International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry
The International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry is a non-profit organization of mental health professionals, physicians, educators, ex-patients and survivors of the mental health system, and their families.
ISEPP’s mission is to use the standards of scientific inquiry to address the ethics of psychology and psychiatry. “We strive to educate our members and the public about the nature of ‘mental illness’, the de-humanizing and coercive aspects of many forms of mental health treatment, and the alternative humane ways of helping people who struggle with very difficult life issues. We believe this is essential since one of the most cherished principles in the mental health field is ‘informed consent’. That means you should be fully and honestly informed about the problems you are experiencing, and the full risks and benefits of any treatment, before making truly voluntary decisions about your care. Our goal is to fully inform you.”
ISEPP is not affiliated with any political or religious group.
The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis
- Promote the appropriate use of psychotherapy and psychosocial treatments for those suffering from psychosis.
- Support treatments that include individual, family, group and milieu approaches and treatment methods that are derived from psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral, systemic, psycho-educational, peer support and related approaches.
- Advance education, training and knowledge of mental health professionals in the psychological therapies and psychosocial interventions in the treatment and prevention of psychosis for the public benefit regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.
- Promote personal empowerment as a necessary part of recovery from psychosis.
- Promote research into individual, family, and group psychological therapies, preventive measures and other psychosocial programs for those with psychosis.
Mad in America
Mad in America’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care in the United States (and abroad). We believe that the current drug-based paradigm of care has failed our society, and that scientific research, as well as the lived experience of those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, calls for profound change.
Our non-profit organization promotes such change in two ways:
(1) We publish a webzine, madinamerica.com, that provides news of psychiatric research, original journalism articles, and a forum for an international group of writers—people with lived experience, peer specialists, family members, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, program managers, journalists, attorneys, and more—to explore issues related to this goal of “remaking psychiatry.”
(2) We run Mad In America Continuing Education, which hosts online courses taught by leading researchers in the field. These courses provide a scientific critique of the existing paradigm of care, and tell of alternative approaches that could serve as the foundation for a new paradigm, one that emphasizes psychosocial care, and de-emphasizes the use of psychiatric medications, particularly over the long-term. While the general public may take the courses, we are primarily marketing the courses to provider organizations and mental health professionals, including psychiatrists.
We believe that this mix of journalism, education and societal discussion can provide the seed for a much-needed remaking of mental health care in the United States.
Mad In America is also the title of an important book written by the website’s founder, science and investigative writer, Robert Whitaker. Whitaker’s second book on the subject of psychiatry is Anatomy of an Epidemic, which won the Investigative Reporters and Editors book award for best investigative journalism in 2010. Perhaps best of all is Whitaker’s third book on related subjects, co-written with clinical psychologist and Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Dr. Lisa Cosgrove, entitled Psychiatry Under the Influence: Institutional Corruption, Social Injury and Prescriptions for Reform.
The Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community
Western Mass RLC is a leader in ethical, thoughtful, respectful and innovative avenues for people’s “recovery” from periods of emotional overwhelm and confusion. Read about the wonderful programs they provide for people, designed as an alternative to the coercive aspects of the institutional “mental health” system. They criticize institutions that repeatedly fail to listen for how people express their distress, and that so frequently neglect to understand its often traumatic sources in people’s actual experience. Staff developed their helping programs based on their own experience of what they found to be misguided and oppressive in existing systems.
Western Mass Recovery Learning Community
Our Core Values: Genuine Human Relationships, Self-Determination & Personal Strength, Mutuality, Optimism, Healing Environments and Respect.
National Empowerment Center
Mission: To carry a message of recovery, empowerment, hope and healing
to people with lived experience with mental health issues, trauma, and extreme states.
Led by Psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Fisher, COO Oryx Cohen and other staff, the National Empowerment Center has many thoughtful and creative offerings of ideas about recovery from emotional distress and confusion, often based on NEC staff’s own lived experience. Dr. Fisher had been part of the Presidential New Freedom Commission on Mental Health that concluded “we need to transform our mental health system from one that tells people in acute crisis that they have a brain disorder requiring a lifetime of care without hope of recovery, to a system based on the real hope of recovery. There is virtually no evidence that a mental health diagnosis is due to a brain disorder.” Fisher is an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
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