MINDFREEDOM ANNUAL REPORT 2014.
The year 2014 saw MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl) commence its second decade of existence and with the help of friends and supporters throughout the country and abroad, continue its work in the areas of peer support, opposition to electroshock, public education and the pursuit of human rights.
PEER SUPPORT. The Stand By Me support group continued to meet every Wednesday afternoon in Costa in Douglas. People drop in and drop out, depending on individual circumstances but there is always a steadfast core group every week.
Most welcome foreign visitors during the year were survivor activists Joe Kelly from London and Laura Delano from Boston. Hospital visits, over-the-phone support and personal mutual support were also provided while the With a Little Help From My Friends music group recommenced their Friday morning meetings, culminating in the by now traditional performance for the occupational therapy students in University College Cork School of Nursing, thanks to the efforts of Karen McNulty.
ELECTROSHOCK AND HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN. Our 6th annual public protest against electroshock took place in Cork in May and, in addition to our local support, we were delighted to welcome activists Barbara Barrett from Dublin, Fiona Walsh and Bernie Bushe from Tallaght Trialogue, Jackie Gorman from Renew in Athlone and Noreen Murphy from Bantry. Testimonies were read by shock recipients as were messages of solidarity from Don Weitz, Helene Duboise and Sue Wittenburg in Canada. Publicity for the event was generated in The Cork Independent, The Journal as well as by interviews with P.J. Coogan on Cork 96’s Opinion Line and Neil Prendeville on Cork’s Red FM. MFIrl also joined forces with Fiona Walsh of FLAC in making a submission to TheUnited Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights while we also continued to lobby for the inclusion of full human rights in the government’s proposed Capacity Legislation especially in the area of full legal recognition of Advanced Care Directives without exception. Again with the help of Fiona Walsh, MFIrl was delighted to have the opportunity of nominating David Oaks, founder and former Director of MindFreedom International for The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Award sponsored by The Council for Europe in Strasbourg.
MEDIA. In addition to the above mentioned publicity surrounding our electroshock protest, MFIrl was also featured in interviews on Waterford WLR radio and Kildare FM. Irish Times Chief Reporter Carl O’Brien made reference to MFIrl in a front page report in June in the aftermath of the Tuam mothers and babies story. Asylum magazine, the magazine for democratic psychiatry, devoted its entire autumn issue to the subject of electroshock and, thanks to Editor Phil Virden and Cherl Prax of Speak Out Against Psychiatry, contained an article by Mary Maddock as well as a front cover photograph of Bernie Bushe and Jackie Gorman along with Mary taken at our May protest. Footage of our protest is also available on You Tube thanks to the efforts of Jerry O’Mullane. Jerry along with his assistants Singh, Ian and Sarah also conducted a series of interviews with MFIrl members which, in addition to further archival material edited by Jerry, went into the making of the 35 minute long
MINDFREEDOM IRELAND DOCUMENTARY which was launched in The Bishopstown Bar in June by Laura Delano of Mad in America. Special thanks is due to Colette Ni Dhuinneacha for seeing to all the arrangements on the night as well as organising a fund-raising raffle. Also in attendance on the night was journalist Aaron Vallely who wrote a follow-up article ‘Irish Psychiatry and Consent’ which appeared in The Huffington Post and who further interviewed a number of MFIrl members which Aaron intends to feature in an upcoming radio documentary. Again thanks to Fiona, Bernie, Gavin and Barbara who travelled from Dublin and long time MFIrl member and activist Richard Patterson who travelled from Leitrim. Laura was en route to the INTAR conference in Liverpool and busy woman that she is, later organised the very successful Mad in America 4 day Film Festival in Boston in October which also featured MFIrl supporter and friend Dylan Tighe in a performance of his RECORD which fuses Dylan’s experience through live music,video and the spoken word.
Further media events were an Evening Echo feature in August and a filmed interview with Luke Montague which formed part of The Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry documentary and launch in The House of Lords in April (www.cepuk.org) On social media the MFIrl , Stop the Forceful Use of Electroshock, Stand by Me and Sing itfrom the Mountains Facebook pages were constantly updated and thanks to Gordon Lucas, our website received a make-over which made it far more user-friendly.
CONTACTS – HOME AND ABROAD. Close and supportive contact was maintained with a number of like-minded organisations and individuals throughout the year. At home these included Jackie Gorman who does great work with Renew in Athlone, activist and blogger Leonie Fennel and Shane’s Page, Maria Bradshaw and CASPAR and The Critical Voices Network Ireland which featured workshops from debutant Deirdre Gibbons, Mary Maddock and Greg White at their wonderful 2 day November conference. Close connections were also maintained with Limerick psychotherapist Dr. Terry Lynch and his wife Marion and we will be delighted to do all we can to support the publication of his new book ‘Depression Delusion: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’ in 2015 including hopefully, a launch in Cork.
Abroad, MFIrl continued our affiliation with MindFredeedom International under its new Director Celia Browne while our thoughts will always be with David Oaks in the new challenges he faces. Contact was also established with Tim Nolan and his Angels of Mercy group in Minnesota, Cherl Prax of SOAP in London as well as the already mentioned Don Weitz and the Campaign Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) inToronto. We will also be working with Dr.Bonnie Burstow of CAPA in helping to launch and promote her new book ‘Psychiatry and the Business of Madness’ nextJune. In October MFIrl members including Patrice Campion from Newry met in Maynooth for a lecture by Dr.Peter Gotzsche, Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre and author of the award winning book ‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How big pharma has corrupted health care’.
The year concluded with a very enjoyable Christmas party organised by Helena and Colette and special thanks is due to Miriam for adding to the Christmas spirit and Susan for entertaining us all with an array of carols and Christmas songs.
CONCLUSION. Looking back on the year, MFIrl can be proud of its achievements.
Operating on a shoestring thanks to the odd raffle and occasional donation, we will endeavour to continue our work as we face into 2015. Of special significance to MFIrl in the light of recent tragedies in Ireland will be to focus attention on the need for a government enquiry into the issue of adverse and extremely harmful dangers for some people of the use of psychotropic drugs and for this fact to be openly admitted at coroners’ inquests.
As always, we especially remember at this time of year our deceased founder member Helena King, her friend and founder of Mad Pride Ireland John McCarthy and the late Cathy Hayes from Dublin, a staunch supporter over the years. On a happier note, we would like to send our congratulations to Jim Gottstein of PsychRights and Nancy Rubenstein Delgiudice on their recent marriage.
31st December, 2014.