McKenzie River Gathering has awarded a 2007 grant of $8,000 to MindFreedom Oregon to provide technical assistance for the start-up of the Oregon Consumer Survivor Coalition. Here are excerpts from the successful grant application and budget.

McKenzie River Gathering Foundation

Group name    MindFreedom Oregon
Address     454 Willamette, Suite 216; PO Box 11284
City/ST/Zip    Eugene, Oregon 97440-3484
Phone    541-345-9106    Fax #    541-345-3737
Web address
Email address

1) Describe your organization, its history (including when it started), its goals, the issue(s) it addresses, and its accomplishments.  If you are a current grantee, make sure to include accomplishments achieved since your last grant.

History: Since 1970 people who have experienced the mental health system have organized our own social change movement. 22 Dec. 1986 our project began as a newsletter in Eugene that launched a national coalition in 1990. 8 April 1994 we began the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is now called MindFreedom. With MRG support, in the last few years we launched a state-wide group with an advisory board, MF Oregon. While open to the public, most members are psychiatric survivors. MF Oregon has a track record of independent, unifying action for human rights and alternatives in the mental health system, led by and for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors.

Goal: Led by and for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors, win grassroots campaigns for empowerment and self-determination in Oregon’s mental health system.

Issues: Choice and voice: Create a greater range of voluntary alternatives & services. Support and encourage the voice of Oregonians diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities.

Victories: A greater state-wide voice for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. Educated public with speakers and workshops about alternatives in the mental health system. Maintained and kept open a full time office that is wheelchair accessible in Eugene’s Growers Market for info & referral. Assisted by MRG: A “Right to Know” campaign that educated thousands of Oregonians about informed consent. MAD PRIDE oral histories of Oregonians who have experienced and recovered from experiences in psychiatric system, on web, print and video. State-wide organizing tours and public events. Help 300 Oregonians annually with advocacy, referral and information requests. Regular monthly face-to-face grassroots meetings of psychiatric survivors and alies. Internet outreach and web site, including 11,000-person human rights mailing list. Represent psychiatric survivors in state-wide agency meetings, mental health advisory boards, etc.

2) Describe the work that you would like MRG to support.  Make sure to outline your specific organizing plan including goals, strategies, activities and timeline.  Please devote most of this space to the actual work you want us to fund.  (Additional space for your answer is on the next page)

Goals: Launch an “Oregon Consumer/Survivor Coalition” (OCSC) an alliance of groups throughout the state that represent mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors to advocate for “choice and voice” in Oregon’s mental health system: A better range of alternatives to choose from, and a stronger voice by and for mental health clients.

Strategies: Without any state or federal support, MindFreedom Oregon has helped about 10 consumer/survivor groups in Oregon to work together on a proposal for a coalition. This MRG supported project will bring the proposal to reality with incorporation, bylaws, board of directors that will be strong enough to stand on its own.

Activities & Timeline:

Months 1 to 4 — Start-Up Coordination: Use teleconference, Internet, the state DHS videoconference system, and at least one in-person state-wide gathering of key leaders to coordinate the start-up committee, advised by attorney David Atkin.

Months 5 to 8 – Grassroots Inclusion: Outreach with materials and a visit to marginalized mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors, especially geographically in rural and Eastern Oregon, and also people of color and poor/homeless.

Months 9 to 12 — Solid Structure: With David Atkin’s advice, bring a new coalition on sound footing with bylaws, incorporation, board and nonprofit application completed.

3) Describe the social change impact of your proposal.  How does your work bring people together to challenge institutions and systems that perpetuate injustice?  What will be different in the world because of your work?

We must name one specific example: In the past few months there have been deaths caused by police of people with psychiatric labels in Portland, Eugene and Ashland. In each city, psychiatric survivors have spoken out. But there must be a unified state-wide voice to speak out! This project will have three major social change impacts:

(a) Unified state-wide powerful voice: Today, Oregon has no structured, united, state-wide voice for the many emerging groups representing Oregon mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. After this project, we will! This is a difference between day and night in terms of influencing elected leaders, gaining funding for training and support from the state, and creating major change in mental health care.

(b) Independence and self-determination: Oregon is one of the few states in the USA with no support for a state-wide client voice! Years ago, Oregon’s mental health system zeroed out all support for this kind of state-wide voice! Even though Oregon plans to build $300 million in new state institutions, this zero support continues. This project will show the mental health system and everyone else that we can organize independently, with a voice that is even stronger because of neglect by the state mental health system!!

(c) Inclusion of marginalized groups: Without any support from the state, it’s been difficult to reach excluded constituencies such as homeless and poor, people of color, and those from rural or eastern Oregon counties. This project has special outreach materials and an organizing visit to rural Oregon to break those barriers.

4) Evaluation.  How will you determine if your work accomplishes its goals?

a) After four months: Have the boards of at least 10 of Oregon’s consumer/survivor groups provided representatives to a coalition start-up committee, have they met by teleconference and held at least one face-to-face state-wide meeting?

b) After 8 months: Is there be a significant increase of individuals with psychiatric diagnoses from marginalized groups in the coalition as both participants and leaders including poor/homeless, people of color, and from rural and Eastern Oregon counties?

c) After 12 months: Is there an established, structured coalition with a diverse and solid board of directors, sound bylaws, and completed applications for nonprofit status?

d) Completion of project: Is there a state-wide voice by and for a coalition of at least 12 mental health consumer, psychiatric survivor groups, that is speaking out to decision-makers, the mental health system, legislators and the media?

5) How does your work challenge inequality, oppression and discrimination within your organization as well as in the larger society?  Outline your accomplishments and concrete plans.

The focus of the new project is to support the empowerment of one of the most excluded and marginalized communities in our society. But in addition, the project has a special emphasis on reaching out and including those who experience a “double-whammy” of oppression, because of poverty, race or location in a rural area.

In terms of our organization itself, our mission statement is based on connecting with other  movements to social justice in a spirit of mutual cooperation for a “nonviolent revololution.” We are directly rooted in the organizing by and for people in the psychiatric system, some of the most discriminated against in our society. Because of this oppression, our movement is often divided among itself. MindFreedom has been able to focus on unifying activities and mutual support to include those who are poor, oppressed, and discriminated against. A good example is our linking up with the cross-disability movement. Together, we are leaders in the “poor people’s movement.”

Discrimination based on psychiatric disabilities is directly related to discrimination based on race, sex, gender preference and class, and there is a great deal of overlap. MindFreedom is dedicated to organizing by, for, and among people who are affected by the mental health system. Therefore, specific actions we take include: (a) out reach to groups and publications representing other oppressed groups, (b) encouragement and training to constituencies who are usually marginalized,  (c) affirmative action policy in hiring staff, and selecting leaders, (d) choosing issues that unite our social change movement with other social change movements that affect other oppressed groups, (e) consideration for always having some free food and beverage available at all our major events so that those experiencing personal economic crises may feel comfortable.

6) Your constituency.  Who is most affected by the issues your group is addressing?

This is a project of, by and for people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities. But in addition, it has special outreach to those with psychiatric diagnoses who are particularly marginalized, including poor, people of color and those in non-urban areas.

We also include a secondary constituency of allies, including concerned mental health workers and mental health professionals, family members, and the general public.

This is a unifying project. Often there is a division among mental health clients between those who accept their conventional mental health care (e.g. drugs), and those who reject it. This coalition is a structured way to be inclusive and unifying of both sides.

7) Who do you organize?  Do you organize those who are most directly affected by your issue or do you organize allies?  How are those who are most directly affected by your issue actively involved in your work and the leadership of your group?

MindFreedom is rooted in the psychiatric survivor and mental health consumer community itself. People who experience severe mental and emotional problems, or who are identified as extremely different from others, are who is directly impacted by the lack of choice in the mental health system, and by our group’s work.

Yes, this constituency is reflected in our leadership. Most of our members are psychiatric survivors according to a survey. Our MindFreedom bylaws require a majority of our board to be psychiatric survivors. We make it clear that mental health workers, advocates and family members are welcome as leaders. Since the start we have considered family members, advocates, and mental health workers to be crucial in organizing. Our strategy has been to create a safe place where all individuals are welcome and supported in doing this difficult work, without discrimination.

This coalition is built around the idea of including mental health consumer and psychiatric survivor voice at every step, from every walk of life, in leadership positions.

8) How do you see your group’s work connecting with other social change issues and communities, and why is this important?  Explain if and/or how your group sees itself as part of a larger movement for progressive social change.

The roots of the movement by and for mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors are directly in the ferment of the early 1970’s. These early leaders thought of themselves as part of “The Movement,” that is, a global nonviolent revolution of cross-oppression organizing based on peace, justice, empowerment, environment and more.

Sometimes those roots are forgotten in the disability movement that we are part of, because by necessity so many groups rely on government grants to do their work.

It is time to reaffirm our roots in the larger movement. When this client movement began, many people thought it was only about those on back wards. But now we know that it is about our neighbors, our family members, our friends and ourselves. The progressive position on mental health care needs to be beyond the simple one of “more money.” This movement is all about how democracy can finally get “hands on” and comfortable with discussing policy for mental and emotional well being. The first step is to encourage the diverse voice of mental health clients to speak out, and to be at the table along with representatives from all the other justice movements.

MindFreedom’s mission statement: “In a spirit of mutual cooperation, MindFreedom leads a nonviolent revolution of freedom, equality, truth and human rights that unites people affected by the mental health system with movements for justice everywhere.”

9) Organizational contacts:  List the organizations you work with.

a)    Formally (groups, organizations and coalitions that your group is a member of)

MindFreedom Oregon is one of 100 sponsor groups united through MindFreedom International. MF Oregon is now working in coalition with OCTA/PeerLiNK in Portland, Safe,  Inc. in Springfield, Oregon client council in Salem, Lane County clients council, the City of Eugene Human Rights Commission

b)    Informally (groups that your group works with but is not a member of)

Lane Independent Living Alliance; Laurel Hill Clients Council; Trauma Healing Project; DUDE (disability rights group in southern Oregon).

10) Why is MRG’s funding critical to your work?

MindFreedom has applied to many foundations this past year, but we are facing a ‘double whammy.’ First, the whole issue of mental health is often ignored. But second, we are not just any mental health group, we are an activist group with a vision of major change in the mental health system. MRG is one of the few to understand.

At each step for a number of years, MRG has been helpful in building the state-wide voice, organizing public events in multiple cities on our issues, and helping emerging leaders. With this project, we would expect the new OCSC to be far more fundable in the future by mainstream and even government mental health department sources.

11) What is your fundraising plan for the grant fiscal year (the year you are applying for funding for)?

MindFreedom itself does not receive mental health system or government funding. Therefore our funding is from diversified sources including: (1) Members – we ask individuals to join, (2) Major donors (trained by Kim Klein), (3) Sales of books, tshirts,  etc. (4) Speaking engagements, consulting work, workshops,  (5) Fundraising events and conferences. (6) Foundations. We have a Development Committee chaired by the wonderful psychologist Al Galves who is helping to reach out to many foundations for support for MindFreedom’s national organizing work. While so far all foundations have said “no,” we are confident at least one foundation will support MindFreedom’s national work this coming year, and some of these national resources can pitch in to help this important state-wide project, which can serve as a model for organizing nationally.

Budget for technical assistance to    OCSC:

    • Two part-time staff                                   2900
    • Postage & mailing                                       500
    • Printing/Copying                                       1500
    • Pre-printed materials                                  200
    • Travel                                                        500
    • Location Rental                                            400
    • Attorney (David Atkin) & incorporation         2000

    TOTAL:                                                         $8000

Inkind: MindFreedom Oregon is committed to providing office rent for MindFreedom technical assistance during the start-up period, along with office supplies, telephone, Internet capability (e-mail & web), and other miscellaneous expenses.