Dear Friends and Supporters:

Our newsletter is back!

At the beginning of November, 2018, I became the new executive director of MindFreedom International. As many of you know, David Oaks, the face and unflagging leader of MFI was in a serious accident that required long and difficult rehabilitation efforts. I am happy to say that David remains strong and continues to be passionately engaged and committed to the mission and goals of MFI:

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.”

MindFreedom Goals

  • Win human rights campaigns in mental health.
  • Challenge abuse by the psychiatric drug industry.
  • Support the self-determination of psychiatric survivors and mental health consumers.
  • Promote safe, humane and effective options in mental health.

This newsletter is dedicated to the life and work of Bill Nordahl who is currently in hospice care in New Jersey. As you will see in the essays written by Janet Foner and David Oaks (co-founders of Support-in, then Support Coalition and our current identity as MindFreedom International), Bill Nordahl has been there since the beginning and steadfastly continues to contribute and support our organization’s work.

Two weeks ago, when I spoke with Bill, he asked me if I wanted to read a brief essay he wrote about involuntary treatment and the deep impact it had on his life and work as an activist. What Bill wrote was meaningful and powerful. I thought it warranted wider exposure – thus it kicks off the re-starting of our regular newsletter.

I also believe that this is a good opportunity to share with our members some of the work we have been doing and our plans and goals for the future.

Thanks to the generous financial support of several donors, our website has been re-designed. We are continuing to review it, make some updates, eliminate duplication, and hopefully make it more useful, and easier to navigate.

Last year we applied for and received a grant from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. As per the grant, we conducted a series of free educational webinars, provided mentoring for individuals, and produced 12 short videos about the problems with mental health services, forced treatment, and the lack of support for services that people felt were most valuable. Additionally, as part of the grant we produced a handbook to provide information about a variety of subjects. Included is material relating to community organizing and giving one’s voice power by joining with others to bring about change to a flawed mental health system that many of us feel does more harm than good. The videos (on YouTube) and the handbook will be available for free in the Spring of 2019.

Below is a quote from John Stuart Mill’s classic essay On Liberty, published in 1859. I believe it expresses what is central to our work at Mind Freedom.

. . . that the sole end for which mankind is warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. . . . In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

I want to express my appreciation to Sarah Smith and Jim Flannery for their commitment and resolute work on the grant and their dedication to making MFI a much-needed voice for survivors and their loved ones.

Last, much appreciation is earned for the work of our Board of Directors: Celia Brown, President, Janet Foner, Secretary, Al Galves, Treasurer and Susan Musante. They have managed to steer MFI through rough waters, never losing sight of what we can do to move forward.

Statement by Janet Foner

I am very excited to be on the board of Mind Freedom International (MFI) at this point in time. David Oaks and I co-founded the Support-In (the original name for Mindfreedom International) with 13 psychiatric survivor affiliate groups at a conference we organized about alternatives to psychiatric oppression in New York city in May, 1990. The conference included a day of protest opposite the American Psychiatric Association convention. I remember David, Bill Nordahl, some others and I planning our founding conference during the NARPA conference that I believe was in Kansas City in 1989.

Bill Nordahl is Right in Challenging Involuntary Psychiatry

by David W. Oaks

5 February 2019

Recently, the new Executive Director of MindFreedom International, Ron Bassman, shared with me a brief essay that concisely and powerfully defends human rights and opposes involuntary mental health procedures. (A copy of this essay is below.)

The author of this essay is activist Bill Nordahl of New Jersey. Many years ago, like Ron and I, Bill personally experienced forced mental health treatment. In his essay, Bill describes how involuntary mental health procedures led to the “worst experience” of his life. ​​​​

National Planning is Underway

Due to logistical issues, MFI will not be organizing an on-site protest of the APA conference in San Francisco. We have now shifted into planning a virtual protest. Further developments will be communicated on our website and Facebook: HERE

MindFreedom International Facebook page: HERE

In Support of Our Canadian Friends and Allies

2019 “Stop Shocking Our Mothers and Grandmothers” Protest, part of which will be held Saturday, May 11, 2019 at noon at Queens Park. On Sunday, May 12, an 80 year old shock survivor, Connie Neil will be starting a three day hunger strike. For additional info see the blog article by Bonnie Burstow, “The time to Strike is Now”: A Call for Anti-ECT Activism, HERE