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.
16, Manor Close,
An Evening with Terry Lynch
who will be interviewed by Patrice Campion
on his new book
The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’
Personal testimonies will be given by Colette Ni Dhuinneacha, Barbara Barrett, John Sawkins and Mary Maddock on how the ’Depression Delusion’ impacted their lives followed by questions from the audience.
‘ Sing it from the Mountains’ composed by Mary Maddock will be sung by Susan Mendez.
8.00 pm Tuesday 8th September
in the Imperial Hotel, South Mall, Cork.
Mindfreedom Ireland Press Releases