Here are some suggestions for those looking for advocates, attorneys, counseling, alternatives, etc. These are among the most common questions we get every day. While MindFreedom does not have attorneys or counselors on staff, and there are no guarantees, MindFreedom has helped hundreds of people network with one another to create and locate resources. [Updated 17 Oct. 2011]
I have been harmed by psychiatric human rights violations. What can I do?
You are definitely not alone! The majority of MindFreedom’s members, staff and board identify themselves as having experienced human rights violations in the mental health system. There’s no easy way to recovery from this trauma. Many of us have found that peer mutual support and working together to help others still caught in the mental health system is very powerful route to recovery. MindFreedom is committed to being a voice for change and alternatives within the mental health system.
Psychiatric human rights violations thrive in an atmosphere of silence and isolation. If you are currently at risk of forced or coerced psychiatric human rights violations, you are encouraged to break the silence and let allies who may help know, and if at all possible find legal advocacy as soon as possible.
How can I locate legal services and legal advocacy?
MindFreedom is a grassroots activist group, a kind of “Greenpeace of Mental Health” as one media source called us. We have very limited resources focused on activism, and unfortunately this means we are not able to directly offer attorneys, advocacy services, etc.
Here are some suggestions:
- As an MFI member you can often network with other members, such as via the MFI e-mail lists. No guarantee, but it’s amazing what kind of assistance has emerged. You may want to consider issuing a public e-mail about the resources you are searching for.
- If you are in the USA, have a psychiatric label, and are requesting legal advocacy services, there is a federally-funded “protection and advocacy” service. This is not necessarily an endorsement of those P & A services, because they are often over-extended and the quality varies a great deal from state to state. However, it is at least one place to try with local requests for legal information and referrals. You can find your state P & A on their national association web site, look for the link “Get help in your state:” on the home page of this web site, and use the pull-down menu:
- If you are trying to find an attorney to hire, such as for a lawsuit, one place to include in your search may be the National Lawyers Guild, which networks lawyers who fight for the underdog. You may be able to find a local NLG contact at web site:
- A sponsor group of MFI that is very supportive of legal activism is PsychRights:
- Another sponsor group dedicated to legal advocacy is the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). Their annual meeting is highly recommended as a place to network about taking legal action. See
- If you are searching for an “ombudsman” or advocate, these vary widely from region to region, county to county, state to state, nation to nation. We do not have a directory of these services. Of course, this is not necessarily a recommendation for what such an ombudsman or advocate can do, but you may want to inquire locally so that you have made an official complaint to any local ombudsman or advocate.
How can I find alternatives for myself or arelative who is experiencing mental and emotional problems, and/or whowants to quit psychiatric drugs?
One of the most common questions we get is from families seeking humane and effective alternatives to the current psychiatric system for their family members. Choice in mental health care is a human right! Unfortunately, such options are not readily available. Some MFI sponsor groups include offer programs.
MindFreedom now has a directory of alternative programs and practitioners throughout the USA and internationally created by the MFI Choice in Mental Health Campaign.
This is a Directory of mental health providers who have publicly agreed to a pretty tough set of MindFreedom principles. While no guarantee, this is the only list of providers MindFreedom lists.
You can read more about the directory and search it here:
As an MFI member you may want to try networking with other members, such as by issuing a public networking plea by e-mail on one of the MFI lists, and to the MFI office, to encourage people aware of resources to let you know.
MindFreedom offers a number of books via its MAD MARKET of books and gear, including a difficult-to-get book on alternatives in mental health, called Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry. And there are many other books there, too.here.
MindFreedom also has a web folder about alternatives, here:
You may want to brainstorm with others for creative solutions, to create your own support network.
Some individuals seeking to lower the level of or quit theirpsychiatric drugs search for “a psychiatrist” in their area who willhelp them. That can be very difficult. However, any physician hasprescribing privileges. It is still difficult but far easier to findsuch a sympathetic non-psychiatrist physician who can monitor and ifneed be taper off your prescription; and along with him or her create ateam along with a supportive counselor, social worker, and/orpsychologist. This is not a recipe, or medical advice, but anindication that “thinking outside the box” can be very important.
Some individuals seeking a more “community organizing” approach for support, have been able to find a sympathetic mental health worker or social worker who has helped them pull together their own support network of friends, peers, relatives and others.
Remember: You are definitely not alone… The lack of real choice in the mental health system is one of its worst characteristics.
Reach out and let others know about your struggles, and work together to network and change the mental health system (read on…)
How can I let other people know I need help?
For MindFreedom members, on a limited basis, MindFreedom can from timeto time network your e-mailed alert asking for advocacy and referrals, to theextent resources are available, such as with MFI’s volunteer list.
Please note: Avolunteer does not officially represent or speak for MFI, they act as individuals. MindFreedom is not responsible for the actions of individuals who are volunteering. We have some veryexperienced and dedicated and compassionate volunteers.
Especially if acurrent member is presently experiencing involuntary psychiatricprocedures, MindFreedom will often help in notifying other members andauthorities, at the direction of the member. We also encourage membersto contact a Sponsor and Affiliate Group nearest you for more support.
Important: If you issue an alert in any way via the Internet thathas private information, you should know there is no guarantee anyone can give thatthis information will stay private.
MindFreedom does have some “how to” tips for you about getting out the word, in this Frequently Asked Questions folder:
- To get out your own news, and think like a journalist, click here.
- To create your own human rights alert to get out to others to help networking, click here.
I am a relative/friend/ally of a psychiatric survivor. How can I network with others on issues around this topic?
One of MIndFreedom’s sponsor groups is Relatives & Allies of Psychiatric Survivors (RAPS). They are a small informal network who can show you that you are not alone and help facilitate crucial support. To ask to network with other friends, family members and allies of psychiatric survivors via RAPS contact Linda Valentine at lindaraps97 (at) yahoo.com
RAPS has a special web area in the affiliate section of MindFreedom, to visit it go here:
How can I learn more about the psychiatric system, detoxing from psychiatric drugs, alternative treatments, etc.?
The mental health system is largely dominated by a “one size fits all” approach. Many of our members have found full recovery through a wide variety of approaches, with the common denominators of choice, empowerment and self-determination. You may read several dozen personal stories of psychiatric survivors who reached recovery on this web site under “personal stories.”
To repeat, MFI is pro-choice and many members choose to take psychiatric drugs. However, there are few resources available for those who wish to quit psychiatric drugs and try alternatives.
You can also find out more about the mental health system, psychiatric drugs, how to quit psychiatric drugs, and more via the MAD MARKET on this web site where we offer over dozens of books, many of them hard-to-find titles. A featured book is Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs edited by Peter Lehmann that was created by dozens of individuals personally familiar with the challenge of quitting psychiatric drugs. Peter has also co-edited a book entitled Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry, which is also available in the Mad Market.
On this MindFreedom web site in the knowledge base is a folder of tips about how people have quit psychiatric drugs successfully, click here:
Also on this MindFreedom web site, the knowledge base also has examples of wholistic alternatives to the mainstream conventional mental health system, here:
I need medical advice, can you help?
Sorry, MindFreedom does not have or offer any specific medical advice. We make this disclaimer similar to that found in other places onthe web, such as Wikipedia:
MindFreedom International web site andmaterials contain articles and other information on many medicaltopics. However, no warranty whatsoeveris made that any of the articles are accurate. Nothing onMindFreedom.org or in our material should be construed as an attempt tooffer or render a medical opinion or otherwise engage in the practiceof medicine.
Where is the best region in the country, or the world, to live in terms of human rights and/or alternatives in mental health?
This is a very common question. But it has no easy answer.
The individual asking is usually correct that some laws and systems are worse than others when it comes to mental health. For instance, there are a few USA states that do not yet have involuntary outpatient commitment. And some police, courts, mental health systems, etc. are far worse than others.
However, in general, in response to your question, it really does depend about the environment and context that are around you.
If in your area you have things like…
- friends & allies
- support networks
- peer support group
- job & income
- great housing
- a range of your favorite humane alternatives
…then you could live in a region with the worst mental health system, and still do well, never experience forced psychiatry, and find the alternatives you need for mental and emotional wellness.
However, if you happen to be isolated, overwhelmed, but with few resources, friends, network, or any of the above… If you are dependent economically or socially on people who do not support principles of empowerment… If your housing is iffy, and your income below what you need… Then does it matter in what region you live? With such a negative environment, you could live in a region with only one psychiatrist, and end up experiencing forced psychiatry.
There are poor developing countries that still tie family members in the backyard, which is torture. But these same countries may have very few people overall in the psychiatric system, and have a high recovery rate for those who escape being tied to a tree.
So that’s why the answer to the question, “Where is my best chance of being free of coerced psychiatry?” has to be “It depends.”
In terms of USA outpatient commitment, according to a proponent of forced psychiatry the few States without so-called “assisted outpatient treatment” are, as of 2011:
- New Jersey (has law, but supposedly not implemented)
- New Mexico
However, in each of these States we hear reports of abuse, including on an outpatient basis.
For instance, Massachusetts uses a terribly-named “Rogers law’ to coerce people on an outpatient basis; Ruby Rogers was a heroine in our movement who fought her forced psychiatric drugging in the courts.
So you see, your freedom and recovery and wellness are often linked to your more immediate enviroment than to the general state, so there’s no easy way to answer this question. You may want to look at MFI’s directory of sponsor and affiliate groups, and ask them about their area, and ask members via the MFI e-mail list, for their opinions. Certainly, finding an area with “mad movement” activity — or starting one — increases the overall safety of your community.
One more thing: Over the years a number of people have wanted to visit or even move to Oregon, because MindFreedom is here. We’re honored! Of course, we welcome any member dropping by the office (it’s best to phone ahead to make sure we’re here). But we have needed to make it clear that MindFreedom is an activist group, and not a social service. MFI does not have jobs, paid internship, housing, support services, lawyer, etc., including for an individual who may choose to move here. Of course, if you do move to Lane County, Oregon, or live here already, then once you’ve taken care of your basics, please feel free to contact the office about applying for a volunteer or intern position!
May I mail you my… manuscript… medical records… legal records… etc.?
Generally, no. We cannot always acknowledge receipt of any materials. We unfortunately do not have staff or resources to process large quantities of raw materials. It is far better, and often necessary, for you to digest your material yourself, and submit a brief article or story to us for possible publication on our web site, or journal. Please do not send us unsolicited raw materials such as medical records, legal records, etc. Please ask first about exceptions.
One exception: If you have published a book, CD or similar item directly relevant to MindFreedom’s work, then once it is published and available to the public, you may mail us an unsolicited review copy with information about how people can obtain your book. See our “contact us” information to mail anything bigger than an envelope.
We cannot guarantee a review, acknowledgment, or use in the Mad Market, etc., of your book. However at the very least a book on our topic is placed in our public lending library. Because of the quantity of books on our topic, we are not always able to do more. However, occasionally in special circumstances we are able to add to ourof books that are sold on the web and at conferences. Contact our office for more information.
I am a concerned mental health professional, how do I fit in?
MFI is open to all who support our mission, including allies who are mental health professionals and mental health workers. You will find you are invited as a member, and if you’d like you are welcome to take action and leadership for human rights in our organization. Welcome! A sponsor group of MFI that helps to network dissident mental health professionals with one another is the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, which you can read about on their web site at