This is a news release issued by MindFreedom Lane County of Oregon, USA.
Tracey Dumas, PhD
MindFreedom Lane County News – 24 July 2007
Tracey Dumas, PhD withdraws her application to Lane County Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)
Says false rumor is “last straw.”
A prominent leader in the mental health consumer/psychiatric survivor community in Lane County has withdrawn her application to be on Lane County’s Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC), citing a false rumor that her PhD was faked as the “last straw.”
Tracey Dumas is a leader in a variety of groups working for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors in Lane County. In a statement Tracey said, “I do not believe [MAHC] is ready or willing to consider the voice of any consumer/survivor advocate/liaison or activist who is even moderately immersed and engaged in consumer groups, activities, and organizations.”
The rumor it turns out was totally false.
As a psychiatric survivor and mental health consumer, Tracey did indeed complete her dissertation on African Americans and depression, and did indeed successfully obtain her PhD from the University of Oregon Department of Sociology.
The University of Oregon confirms that Tracey received her PhD, and may be called “doctor.”
On Friday, Rob Rockstroh, Director of all of Lane County Health and Human Services, told David Oaks, director of MindFreedom, on the phone that he had heard a rumor that Tracey had not finished her dissertation, and could not technically be called “doctor.”
Rob said he did not believe the rumor personally, and that it wouldn’t matter to him if Tracey was not have a PhD. But he asked David Oaks about it. Unfortunately, Rob said he does not remember who told him the rumor, making it far more difficult to stop.
David Oaks said, “I believe Rob meant no harm. But there is a lack of awareness of just how incredibly disempowered and disenfranchised the voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors is in our society. A PhD in this context is a big deal. Whoever started the false rumor that reached Rob apparently lacks this awareness, and intentionally or not has ‘Swiftboated’ Tracey. I know that some with MHAC and the County have strongly defended the status quo, and feel we are already represented. We are not. It would help if we start by all admitting we have a major problem to solve, together.”
“Swiftboating” refers to rumors that harmed the 2004 presidential candidacy of John Kerry.
Today, Tracey sent the following public statement to Rob Rockstroh:
From: Tracey Dumas — firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: July 24, 2007 7:58:44 AM PDT
Rob, I heard that you told David Oaks that I shouldn’t be called “doctor” because you heard from someone (you forgot who) that I had not completed my dissertation and therefore didn’t receive my Ph.D. I just want to verify that if you said this, that you now understand that it is a lie.
This reflects on my credibility, respect, honesty, and dignity as a fellow human being so I am checking it out although I am becoming desensitized to the never-ending rumors and lies that circulate in Lane County circles.
I am trying to get used to the jealousy, doubt, anger, and other petty reactions I get from people, particularly professionals, who hear I earned my Ph.D.
Unfortunately, this was the last straw in my decision to withdraw my application from the MHAC which I do not believe is ready or willing to consider the voice of any consumer/survivor advocate/liaison or activist who is even moderately immersed and engaged in consumer groups, activities, and organizations.
I am trying to decide what further action is warranted. I do not want other consumers/survivors/ex-patients to have to go through similar channels. Thank you for your future help in stoppring any and all rumors/lies that come your way.
Sincerely, Tracey Dumas
– end of statement –
The rumor follows on a difficult time finding and placing representatives of mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor groups on the Mental Health Advisory Committee. MHAC initially rejected Tracey’s application, made a new call for applications, and was to have another round of interviews with these candidates, including Tracey, when she withdrew her application.
About six mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors appeared during the public comment period of the last MAHC meeting and said that they wanted more representation of consumer/survivors on MHAC.
David Oaks, Director of MindFreedom, said, “The Consumer/Survivor Council has been meeting for years. It’s as if they have that toy steering wheel you let a child play with in your car, while the adult has the real steering wheel.”
There is a Lane County Mental Health Consumer/Psychiatric Survivor Council, but the council participants unanimously stated in their last meeting that they did not feel represented on the MHAC.
Several MHAC leaders have defended the status quo, saying that they “already have” consumer involvement because about three committee members have psychiatric diagnoses, though apparently only one has done so publicly.
However, Tom Wilson on the consumer/survivor council replied that, “If I can’t see my representative. If I don’t know who my representative is. If my representative never talks to me… Then how can I be represented?”
Tracey was featured on the front page of the Register-Guard on 28 January 2007 because of her mental health advocacy efforts for alternatives to psychiatric drugs:
Tracey will co-chair the second meeting of the Opal Network, an effort to support the voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors, next Tuesday, 31 July, at 2 pm, at the Eugene Public Library. For more information see:
To e-mail your support for Tracey, you can e-mail to: email@example.com
To speak out for more mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor organizational representation on the MHAC, contact the Lane County Commissioners.
The next chance to do so face-to-face is tomorrow, Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at their regular meeting at 9:00 a.m.
Check the following web site regularly under the “Services — Commissioner Meeting Agendas” link for upcoming Commissioner Wednesday meetings as they are announced.
During public comment at the start of the Lane County Board of Commissioners meeting you have up to three minutes, unless there are more than seven people who wish to speak during the 20 minutes allotted at the start of the meeting for public comment.
Phone and any e-mail contacts for each of the five Lane County Commissioners is here:
Please forward this news alert to all appropriate places on and off the Internet.