MINDFREEDOM IRELAND ANNUAL REPORT
As we say goodbye to 2015, MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl) can look back at another
year of activism, education, campaigning and offering peer support to people experiencing overwhelm and emotional distress.
The Cork Stand By Me support group led by Susan Mendez continued to meet at 3pm every Wednesday in Costa in Douglas while the ’A Little Help from my Friends’ music group was reactivated in the autumn with the addition of some new blood and rehearsed for their by now traditional Christmas concert for Dr Karen McCarthy’s occupational therapy students at University College Cork in December.
MEDIA: A full page article by Jim Maddock on the subject of electroshock was published in The Evening Echo in May just before our annual shock protest which also received publicity including a photograph of the event in The Cork News. The Carrighdhoun newspaper carried an extensive report on our hosting of another event in September marking the publication of Dr. Terry Lynch’s book ‘Depression Delusion:The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’ which also received coverage in an article by Colette Sheridan in The Evening Echo. Two further articles appeared on the Mad in America www.madinamerica.com website established by American journalist and international campaigner Robert Whitaker. In recent years Mad in America has established itself as one of the most acclaimed and foremost websites for the expression of views and opinions contrary to ‘medical model’ biopsychiatry. As it says itself, it “explores ongoing efforts to remake care in the US and abroad and also investigate the problems and deficiencies with the current drug-based paradigm of care.” MFIrl is proud to be associated with them. Mary Maddock was interviewed on 3 radio stations - by P.J. Coogan on Cork 96FM, George Hook on his Last Word programme on Newstalk and Jonathan Healy on his Lunchtime show also on Newstalk. In addition Mary was also interviewed by Evelyn McClaverty for her award winning ‘Other Voices’ series on RTE radio. http://www.rte.ie/voices/
By way of utilizing our own media, Gerry O’ Mullane did an excellent job of filming our ’Evening with Terry Lynch’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHQ1DGYknyA while Susan Mendez and Mary both posted many films and pictures on our Facebook website.
What was our 7th electroshock protest took place in Cork on May 16th. It was part of a unified protest held in more than 30 cities throughout the world and specifically honoured the memory of Leonard Roy Frank, a long time anti-shock activist who had died in January. http://www.mindfreedom.org/photos/leonard-roy-frank/view
Our Cork event was very successful and personal testimonies were given by a number of MFIrl members and supporters. We appreciate the presence particularly of Barbara Barrett and Derry Mescal from Dublin and Mary Power from Waterford. Derry organised a joint banner photograph with the Referendum Equality campaign in Bishop Lucey Park and the film of our protest was featured in the subsequent compendium of the many other protests worldwide. As the year ended, a government amendment to section 59b of the Mental Health Act 2001 deleted the word ’unwilling’ but in leaving intact the word ‘unable’ effectively made no difference to the power of two psychiatrists to still administer it. MFIrl’s position is that we call for a total abolition of this brain damaging practice. We were sad to learn of the death of Sue Clark from Canada who worked tirelessly to expose and abolish electroshock.
BOOK LAUNCH: Another major undertaking for us was hosting ’An Evening with Dr Terry Lynch’ in the Imperial Hotel, Cork in September to mark the publication of his recent book ’Depression Delusion: The Myth of the Chemical Brain Imbalance’. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHQ1DGYknyA Over 100 people attended including poet, author and activist John Sawkins from Edinburgh and from Dublin, activists Berni and Gavin Bush and Edith Cahill. The audience listened to and participated in a very informative interview conducted by psychotherapist/activist Patrice Campion which was filmed by Gerry O’Mullane and is now available on You Tube. MFIrl’s relationship with Terry Lynch goes back a long way and we are always delighted to be able to afford him a public platform for his enlightened and humane opinions. Many MFIrl members were also present when Terry again spoke in UCC in November. MFIrl member Colette Ni Dhuinneacha helped to organise this event.
CONNECTIONS: MFIrl has maintained strong links with MindFreedom International www.mindfreedom.org and its new vibrant director Celia Brown http://www.mindfreedom.org/photos/celiabrownphoto.jpg/view and is always pleased to acknowledge the work and effort of David Oaks http://www.mindfreedom.org/who-we-are/david-w-oaks/brief-bio-oaks who is still displaying his unquenchable spirit. We were also happy to host a visit from activist Frank Blankenship from MindFreedom Florida http://www.mindfreedom.org/photos/frank-blankenship.jpg/view who came to Cork in June. Also in June members of MFIrl were present in London at the launch, organized by Cheryl Plax of ‘Speak Out Against Psychiatry’, http://speakoutagainstpsychiatry.org/about-us/ of Bonnie Burstow’s new book ‘ Psychiatry and the Business of Madness’ and participated through Skype with Bonnie and others on the night. http://www.madinamerica.com/author/bizomadness/
MFIrl would also like to place on record the great work throughout the year of Richard Patterson and again appreciate his efforts in travelling to Cork in November. We are proud too to support Leonie Fennell, Stephanie Lynch and Aine Ni Nibhern and the sterling work they do in relation to the dangers of prescription drugs. Connection was also maintained with Don Weitz and CAPA in Canada and Peter and Ginger Breggin and the outstanding work they do in Ithaca, New York. Finally in December, MFIrl linked up with Fiona Walsh and Tallagh Trialogue in lobbying for the full human rights of all people without exception in proposed changes to the Capacity legislation then under review.
OTHER EVENTS: Colette Ni Dhuinneacha and Mary Maddock were invited to address psychiatric nursing students in UCC in October while Mary also did a workshop presentation at the Critical Voices Network Ireland conference in UCC in November. MFIrl would like to express out support for and solidarity with the work of Harry Gijbels and Lydia Sapouna who organise and run the CVNI two day conference every year. http://www.cvni.ie/ Finally the year concluded with a most enjoyable Christmas party in the Rochestown Park hotel and thanks is due to Helena and Miriam for organizing the night and to Kevin and Geoff for some great music.
CONCLUSION: Throughout the year MFIrl, in addition to our ongoing campaign of education and fighting for human rights, was also a voice and a vehicle for views and opinions that frequently are swamped when it comes to general media coverage of ‘mental health’ issues. As a general election looms, we will continue to press the case for a more enlightened approach to the question of emotional distress. We want to expose the lack of scientific evidence and highlight the misinformation that is inherent in coercive psychiatry. Thank you to all our members and friends at home and abroad for your support.
31st December, 2015.