MINDFREEDOM IRELAND ANNUAL REPORT 2011 Written by Jim Maddock   

            MINDFREEDOM IRELAND ANNUAL REPORT  2011

 

Google MindFreedom Ireland (MFIrl) and quite an amount of information appears reflecting the totally voluntary effort and work which our members have put into our collective group over the years since our foundation in 2003.  From our base in Cork, Ireland we are glad to be able to report a continuation of that work in 2011. 

 

SUPPORT GROUP   Our ‘Stand by Me’ group continued to meet every Wednesday throughout the year in the cosy confines of Costa’s Coffee Shop in Douglas, a suburb of Cork city.  With a faithful and constant base of regular members like the two Phils, Anita, Tina, Miriam, Colette, Eileen, Ann, Mary, Dorothee, Martin, Kevin, Tim and Gerry and many others who dropped in and out during the year, ‘Stand by Me’ provided support, practical advice, information and lots of fun and laughter right up to our Christmas party on December 21st.  A novel spin-off from the group this year was the formation of a Music Ensemble which presently has four participants playing violin, piano and tin whistle and which hopefully will grow next year.  MFIrl also responded to numerous inquiries received by phone and via our website and provided ‘on the ground’ support at hospital level in many instances.  In the spirit of MindFreedom International, MFIrl enjoyed a mutually supportive relationship with Grainne Humphrys of Elemental Ireland and her ‘Free John Hunt’ campaign and Nuria O’Mahony who kindly donated her extensive library for use by our members prior to her departure to Australia.  MFIrl enjoys a similar relationship with Dr. Terry Lynch and early in 2012 plans to have a Cork launch of his recently published book ‘Selfhood’.

 

CONFERENCES   The highlight of 2011 was undoubtedly our first independent conference which we held in the Carrigaline Court Hotel on February 28th.  Entitled ‘Epidemic Exposed – Are Magic Bullets an Illusion?’ and chaired by MFIrl stalwart  Martin Hynes, the panel of speakers featured Kathy Synott, Mary Maddock, Ted Chabasinski, Dr. Terry Lynch and Robert Whittaker and attracted an audience of over 200.  Extracts from the night can be seen on our website.  MFIrl had collaborated with the newly formed Critical Voices Network Ireland (CVNI) in bringing Robert Whittaker to Ireland.  CVNI has as its purpose the creation of “a network of people interested in considering and devoloping responses to human distress which are creative, enabling, respectful and firmly grounded in human rights.”  MFIrl are happy to be affiliated with CVNI and participated in their two day November conference in UCC entitled ‘Medicating Human Distress: Concerns, Critiques and Solutions’ where a number of our members presented workshops.  MFI member Richard Patterson was a keynote speaker at another UCC conference in September entitled ‘Mad Medicine – Do Conflicts of Interest Drive you Crazy?’ while MFI delegates Colette and Mary attended the ENUSP conference in Brussels in May.

 

MEDIA  In the run-up  to and aftermath of our Carrigaline Conference, MFIrl received a high degree of mainstream media attention from the Irish Examiner, Irish Times, Evening Echo, Cork Independent, Cork News, The Carrigdoun and Cork’s 96FM.  Further coverage of our activities appeared in the Irish Independent and Sunday World.  We also have two ‘causes’ – Support MFIrl and Stop Forceful Electro-convulsive ‘therapy’ – on Facebook along with our regularly updated mindfreedomireland.com website. MFIrl members Patrice Campion, Ann  Keohane and Richard Patterson are all regular contributors to the CVNI Facebook page and worth a look too is Richard's MFIrl float at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Carrick-on-Shannon available on You Tube.  Specifically, MFIrl would like to compliment reporter Jennifer Hough of the Irish Examiner for her excellent articles throughout the year.  RTE Radio also interviewed four of our members as part of their week long series of programmes to mark World Mental Health Day in October.

 

OTHER EVENTS   Thanks to the good offices of Greg White, MFIrl was granted a stand at the three-day Mind, Body and Spirit Festival in the City Hall in March.  MFIrl supported the Delete 59b campaign against electro-shock and held our 5th annual ECT public protest on the Grand Parade, Cork in May.  In June, members attended John McCarthy’s Mad Pride Festival in Fitzgerald’s Park.  In the autumn, MFIrl made submissions for proposed government changes to current capacity legislation and the revision of the current 2001 Mental Health Act and in November, participated in Mental Health Reform’s public consultation process.

 

DR AINE TUBRIDY   It was with great sadness that MFIrl learned of the untimely death of Dr. Aine Tubridy last April.  Partner of the late Dr. Michael Corry and co-author of many books with him, Aine had delivered a keynote speech in his memory at the 2010 UCC conference.  MFIrl had forged strong links with Dr. Corry since 2004 and was present in Dublin for Aine’s funeral service.

 

CONNECTIONS  MFIrl was honored to host vetern campaigner Ted Chabasinski in Cork in February and to meet Will Hall of The Freedom Center.  In July we enjoyed a visit by Frank Blankenship, Jackie and Mary from MindFreedom Florida, in September a visit by Tsuyoshi Matsuo from MindFreedom Japan and again, it was an honour to host writer and publisher and former Chair of ENUSP Peter Lehmann from Germany in November.   Of course, MFIrl maintained its strong links with MindFreeom International and David Oaks in America and Don Weitz and CAPA in Toronto along with the World Network of ex-Users and Survivors of Psychiatry and the European Network of ex-Users and Survivors of Psychiatry.

 

  As we head into 2012, the challenges facing not just MFIrl but all who work for humane and rights-based alternatives, continue. We draw strength and encouragement from our sisters and brothers worldwide and the growth  of organisations like CVN here in Ireland.  This year MindFreedom International celebrated its 25th anniversary  and in 2013, MFIrl will celebrate 10 years of existence.  Thankyou and good wishes to all our supporters as we head for that significant milestone.

 

Jim Maddock,

31st December, 2011.

MINDFREEDOM IREALND ANNUAL REPORT 2010

Now in its 8th year of operation, MindFreedom Ireland (MFI) continued its work on many levels during 2010. From its Cork base of dedicated members and drawing support from friends both nationally and abroad, MFI can look back on another year of substantial achievement.

 

SUPPORT GROUP.     At the core of MFI is the Wednesday support group ‘Stand By Me’.  Members come and go depending on circumstances but without fail, there was always a solid base group which provided practical and moral support to not just people from Cork but to others from further afield who had heard of its existence.  Standing by people in hospital or in their own homes, members gave generously of their time in accordance with our philosophy of mutual support.  MFI was also glad to support the ‘Free John Hunt’ campaign organised by Grainne Humphrys of Elemental Ireland which attracted  a lot of media attention.

 

MEDIA CAMPAIGN.  MFI received considerable media coverage throughout the year especially during the ‘ECT’ Debate in The Irish Times.  This included letters published and a special feature in The Health Plus supplement on one of our members Colette Ni Dhuinneacha who gave powerful testimony of her negative experience of ‘ECT’ which she repeated on the main news on TG4, the Irish language TV channel.  MFI members Kevin Foley and Mary Maddock also spoke of their ‘ECT’ experiences on the widely-listened to ‘Talk to Joe’ national radio phone-in while MFI also received widespread publicity for its anti-‘ECT’ stance in a special ‘Comment’ feature in the prestigious Sunday Times.  Our website - mindfreedomireland.com – was revamped and upgraded and for this ‘MFI’ is grateful to Edith Lawlor who gave freely of her time and expertise.  MFI also lobbied politicians in support of the ‘Delete 59b’ (of the Mental Health Act, 2001) campaign against involuntary’ ECT’ organised by John McCarthy and doctors Pat Bracken and the late Michael Corry.

 

DR. MICHAEL CORRY.      It was with great sadness MFI learned of Michael’s death on February 22nd.  A rare psychiatrist of the greatest humanity, humility, passion and courage, MFI were represented at his funeral service.  MFI had been privileged to work with him in his anti-‘ECT’ campaign and to participate in the making of his documentary film ‘Soul Interrupted’ which formed an integral part of his 2006 Burlington Hotel Conference.

 

CONFERENCES.        It was most fitting then that ‘The Dr. Michael Corry Memorial Conference – Critical Positions on and Beyond Recovery’ was held in University College Cork in November.  Organised by The School of Nursing and The School of Applied Social Science, Michael had been a keynote speaker at the 2009 conference.  MFI members Greg White and Mary Maddock presented workshops at both conferences, the second of which included the launch of The Irish Forum for Critical Voices in Mental Health.  MFI also participated in The Institute of Health Sciences ‘Food and Mood’Confeerence in Dublin in September while in May, MFI had an information and educational stand at the three day International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership conference in Killarney.  Earlier in May MFI had presented a talk at The Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault (CAPA) PsychOut Conference in Toronto organised by an international committee of activists, graduate students and shock survivors led by campaigners Don Weitz, Bonnie Burstow and Shaindl Diamond where David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom International, was a keynote speaker.  MFI was also proud to participate in the ‘Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers’ public protest in front of the legislative building in Toronto.

 

ELECTROSHOCK  PROTEST.    MFI organised its own 4th annual ELECTROSHOCK  public protest on The Grand Parade in Cork in June and continued the campaign with a Facebook Cause which, in the course of the year, received over 7000 signatures.

 

FINANCE/EVENTS.    MFI operates on a shoestring.  We receive no assistance from any government body or organization.  We depend on occasional small donations from members/supporters and on various fund-raising events held from time to time.  MFI would like to express special gratitude to Pam Walsh (and Amy) for organising our ‘Swimathon’ in December and also to Keith and the staff at Carrigaline Court Leisure Centre for facilitating us.  Thanks to the fundraiser, MFI was in a position to commence work on an event which promises to be one of the highlights of 2011.  This was to extend an invitation to Robert Whitaker, award-winning American journalist and author of ‘Mad in America – Bad Science, Bad Medicine and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill’ and the recently published ‘Anatomy of an Epidemic – Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America’, to speak in Cork next February, to which he readily agreed.  He will be joined on the night by Dr. Terry Lynch, author of the best-selling ‘Beyond Prozac – Healing Mental Distress’ and longstanding outspoken critic of bio-psychiatry.  The event is due to take place at The Carrigaline Court Hotel at 7.30pm on Monday February 28th, 2011.  Admission will be free with donations at the door.  Other events during the year which MFI attended were The Mad Pride Day in Fitzgerald ‘s Park in June and a meeting with The Catherine McCauley School of Nursing in UCC in March to contribute to their review of the syllabus content for their psychiatric nursing programme.

 

CONNECTIONS.         In the course of the year, MFI maintained its links with fellow organisations overseas including The European Network of ex-Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (thanks to Debra Shulkes for an excellent Newsletter and mention of MFI), Psychrights and Patients Advocacy. MFI members Dorothy Krien and Martin Hynes linked up with Dr. Bryan McElroy and his Food Healing group which meets every Tuesday evening at the South Presentation Convent, Douglas Street, Cork.  MFI were honored to host Tina Minkowitz (World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry) in Cork in April.  MFI would also like to register our appreciation of the support and encouragement we receive from David Oaks and all on the Board of MindFreedom International and finally to express our great sadness at the passing last January of another friend Judi Chamberlain, a woman often described affectionately described as The Grandmother of the Movement and author of ‘On Our Own’.

 

CONCLUSION.  In what was a trying year on many fronts in Ireland, MFI can look back at its record and be proud of its contribution.  Thanks to all our members, supporters and friends for all their efforts throughout the year.  Our focus for the future will be as before namely, to educate the public, to oppose forced treatment and to strive for humane and effective alternatives.  MFI is pleased to be part of the recently formed Critical Voices Network and looks forward to contributing to its evolution.  With a general election due early in the New Year, further opportunities should arise to promote our aim of a non-violent revolution in the ‘mental health’ system.

 

 

Jim  Maddock.

31st December, 2010.