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 UniversityCollegeCork 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’Conference 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 7,000 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 CarrigalineCourtHotel 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 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.
31st December, 2010.
Founded in 2004, MindFreedom Ireland is an affiliate of MindFreedom International and with them, campaigns for a non-violent revolution in the mental health system.
The year commenced with the launch of two books. The first 'Knowledge in Mental Health; Reclaiming the Social' was edited by MF Ireland member and University College Cork lecturer Lydia Sapouna in conjunction with Peter Lehmann. The second ˜Soul Survivor - A Personal Encounter with Psychiatry' by Mary and Jim Maddock was launched by active disability campaigner Kathy Sinnott, MEP in Dublin in January, an event also attended by Tim O'Malley, the Irish government minister with responsibility for mental health and Grainne Humphrys (along with Josh, MF Ireland's youngest member) who read her wonderful poem. In April, the Irish government Report on the Adverse Effects of Pharmaceuticals was published. MF Ireland members John McCarthy, Greg White, Mary Maddock and especially Nuria O'Mahony had given evidence at the earlier committee hearings and helped in no small way in highlighting the issue. Plans are afoot to organise a follow-up conference in U.C.C. in the autumn of 2008.
A media campaign in which MF Ireland members spoke on national radio and had letters and articles published in the national press continued throughout the year. Linking with the media campaign, John McCarthy stood as a candidate in the general election held in May. Many MF Ireland members formed part of his election campaign team and while John failed to win a seat, he succeeded in focusing media and political attention on health issues in general and mental health issues in particular. In addition, new member Lidia Walsh spoke very eloquently on Newstalk, the national talk radio station while another significant success was the dropping of an offensive advertisement from the national press due to representations made by MF Ireland in conjunction with Depression Dialogues.
A highlight of the year was Ireland's first electroshock public protest held in solidarity with similar protests in Canada and the U.S in May. Despite apaaling weather conditions on the day, the event attracted support from a number of politicians including Green party TD Dan Boyle. A special thanks is due to Mel O'Dea and Tim Nyhan for organising the electroshock facts and statistics leaflets and to Martin Hynes and Colette Ni Dhuinneacha who made their maiden public speeches on the issue. A prominent report on the protest was carried in The Irish Times of the following day.
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS.
Mf Ireland was represented at a number of conferences both at home and abroad throughout the year. These included the Cork Advocacy Network conference on Mental Health and the Law, the WPA conference in Dresden in June, the Wisdom House 3 day conference Creative Revolution; Turning our Minds Around in Connecticut in July, the Dublin City University Health4Life conference in September and the Manchester Recovery conference in November. On World Mental Health Day in October, MF Ireland members Martin Hynes, Maria O'Mahony, Lidia Walsh and Mary Maddock manned the MF Ireland information stand in UCC while on the same day Colette Ni Dhuinneacha and John McCarthy represented MF Ireland at the launch of the government's National Service Users Executive Strategic Plan 2007-2009 in Dublin. A number of other members also spoke in public fora throughout the year. Dorothee Krien and Mel O'Dea spoke at the Mind, Body Spirit conference in Cork while Mary and John did likewise in Dublin.
In June, Mary and John, on the advice of Kathy Sinnott, Vice-Chair of the Committee, submitted a petition to the European Commission Petitions Committee then touring Ireland. Their petition entitled ˜The illegality of Ireland's Mental Health Act of 2001 as it concerns the forced use of mind-altering drugs on unwilling patients' was accepted by the Commission in Brussels who have promised to investigate the matter further.
MF Ireland established close links with fellow organisations throughout the year, in particular with Patients Rights Advocacy in New Zealand, the Soteria network in Britain, Psychrights in Alaska, CAPA in Canada and Depression Dialogues in Ireland. Mary Maddock is currently working to encourage the establishment of new MindFreedom International affiliates in other European countries.
MF Ireland would like to pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of Dr. Terence McLoughlin, Director of Asylum, whose untimely death occurred in September. Terence was a lifelong campaigner for the rights of the underdog and our good friend. Finally, the year ended on a further poignant note with a remembrance event on December 28 to mark the first anniversary of the death of one of our founder-members, Helena King. It is the unquenchable spirit of Terence and Helena which will sustain us as we commence what we hope will be another successful year.
December 31st, 2007
MINDFREEDOM IRELAND PRESS RELEASE.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST TO SPEAK IN CORK
U.S. lawyer and human rights activist Tina Minkowitz will speak at a public meeting in Cork on January 20th.
Ms Minkowitz is a former co-chairperson of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP) and is founder of the Centre for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry.
She represented WNUSP in the drafting and negotiation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in New York in 2007 and is credited with much of the advanced thinking of the CRPD in the area of legal capacity, liberty and respect for the integrity of the person, in effect providing human rights campaigners with a new foundation for challenging established standards in 'mental health' care.
To date 160 countries have formally ratified the Convention. The continuing Lunacy Regulation Act 1871 which condemned people to the status of non-citizens had caused problems for the Irish government and even though the long awaited Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was finally signed into law on 30th December 2015, issues surrounding 'mental capacity' and 'legal capacity' still remain, leaving Ireland one of only 11 countries, 10 years later, still to ratify the Convention.
In Cork, Ms Minkowitz will speak about her Absolute Prohibition Campaign which calls for a total and absolute ban on involuntary detention and forced treatment of people with psycho-social disabilities. She says that too often the pain and suffering resulting from forced psychiatry is not acknowledged or is made to seem insignificant with the testimonies of survivors frequently disbelieved.
Fear and terror, disassociation from mind and body, brain damage including memory loss, deprivation of privacy and subjection to the will of others, withdrawal syndrome from psychiatric drugs, diabetes and damage to organs such as liver, kidney and thyroid are among the many effects experienced, making forced psychiatry a focal point for discrimination.
Ms Minkowitz has given expert presentations to the UN, government and NGOs in several countries and consults with interested parties analysing draft legislation in light of the CRPD. She comes to Cork from Galway where she addressed a conference in UCG on 'Consent and Refusal: Mental Health Human Rights and the Law'.
As a worldwide initiative, her Absolute Prohibition Campaign is open to all survivors and non-survivors, relatives, lawyers, researchers, academics, service providers and journalists so long as they actually support the aim of prohibiting and abolishing all involuntary commitment and forced treatment.
The talk is being organised by MindFreedom Ireland, a Cork based psychiatric survivor and support group which for the past 14 years has been also campaigning for the same objectives.
It takes place in Bru Columbanus, Wilton, Cork on Friday January 20th at 7.00 pm. Admission is free but donations are welcome.
January 9, 2017.
A public protest against the controversial psychiatric procedure of electroshock took place in Cork on Saturday.
It was organised by MindFreedom Ireland, a psychiatric survivor group which campaigns for alternatives and against human rights abuse and forced treatments.
Among the speakers were 2 women in their 60’s who spoke of the enduring memory loss and cognitive dysfunction they experienced afterwards.
Responding to claims that electroshock today is new, safe and effective, one of the women said there was no difference between now and when she had it over 40 years ago. It was and still is a traumatic experience visited upon people who were already traumatised and vulnerable.
Twice as many women than men were shocked today while research from Trinity College and the Scottish ECT Accreditation Network saying it was effective was less than impartial being conducted by people who were in favour of the procedure.
It was also stated that the recent removal of the word ‘unwilling’ from Section 59b of The Mental Health Act in effect made little difference as legally, a person deemed ‘unable’ will be considered to lack capacity and with the agreement of 2 psychiatrists, can still be forcefully subjected to the procedure.
Another speaker said that psychiatry was the only branch of medicine that deliberately induced seizures in the name of help. While it says that it is “an important and necessary treatment”, the truth was that many psychiatrists themselves refused to utilise it and that 2 European countries, Slovenia and Luxembourg, had totally banned its use.
The protest, the 8th organised by MindFreedom Ireland, took place in torrential rain and was attended by people from many parts of the country and also by members of The Irish Critical Voices Network which is a network of people from diverse backgrounds who want an Irish mental health system which is not based on the traditional bio-medical model.
PUBLIC ELECTROSHOCK PROTEST.
A public protest against the controversial psychiatric practice of electroshock will take place in Cork on Saturday, May 7th.
It is being organised by MindFreedom Ireland, a Cork based psychiatric survivor group which campaigns against human rights abuse and forced ‘treatments’.
During electroshock, an electric current is passed through the brain inducing a grand mal seizure. It is an extremely controversial procedure with proponents claiming it as an essential last resort treatment. Critics say it causes trauma, brain damage and enduring memory loss, is outdated and dehumanising and call for its total abolition.
The most recent figures from The Mental Health Commission show a national increase in the use of electroshock with a 70% increase in the number of programmes administered without consent.
A recent amendment to the Mental health Act 2001 removed the word ‘unwilling’ but in leaving the word ‘unable’ effectively left the power to forcefully administer it still in the hands of two psychiatrists.
This will be the 8th protest organised by MindFreedom Ireland and takes place between 2pm and 4pm outside Bishop Lucey Park on Grand Parade. Testimonies on how it affected them will be given by survivors of electroshock.
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