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A Class Series on “Mental Health” Liberation

I just finished teaching, with Marsha Hunter,1 a class series on “mental health” liberation for the white people’s ongoing class in our Area. It was a thrilling project, and the topic was a great one on which to try out teaching (I am the class assistant).

Discharging on “mental health” liberation has been key for my re-emergence. I identify as a “mental health” system survivor, as several of my family members have been heavily targeted by the “mental health” system.

“Mental health” oppression has been described as the “glue” that holds other oppressions in place. It follows that reclaiming our minds from this oppression is a great way to move against all oppressions, including racism. 

We taught classes on basic “mental health” liberation theory, addictions, RC policy in general, and the RC policy on psychiatric drugs. We used the Guidelines for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities,2 articles from Recovery and Re-emergence3 Numbers 5 and 6, and what I’d learned at a Sunrise Center4 workshop led by Janet Foner.5 The following is some of what we communicated:

“MENTAL HEALTH" LIBERATION

In the first class we talked about “mental health” liberation. Our minds are good. We can discharge everything (unless certain parts of our brain have been physically damaged). There is no such thing as “mental illness.”

“Mental health” oppression squeezes us into the limited ways of being that are offered by the oppressive society, into not showing ourselves and risking being targeted if we do. “Mental health” liberation contradicts this. Our goal is to transform society, so that it works for everyone.

We discharged about our own relationship to “mental health” oppression and read and discharged about Janet Foner’s five-point program for keeping one’s attention in the present.6 

ADDICTIONS

Then we did a class on addictions. Most of us struggle with one or more addictions. This is not our fault. Our struggles are not personal or individual; they are the result of systematic oppression. The society offers us drugs and distractions (Facebook, television, and so on) rather than discharge and re-evaluation. We get to discharge the early hurts that pull us to act on addictions.

RC POLICIES

After these classes on “mental health” liberation and addictions, we did a class on what policy means in RC. Our RC policies reflect the best collective thinking of Co-Counselors to date. Each one is a draft that we expect to refine as we continue discharging and re-evaluating, and everyone’s thinking is needed in this.

People did mini-sessions on whatever gets in their way of knowing that their thinking is needed in the RC Communities. We held out that without early hurts in our way, each of us would enjoy the invigorating process of using discharge to bring our thinking closer and closer to benign reality and engaging fully with other minds as we do so.

We emphasized the power of our minds, the value of reclaiming them fully, and the lifelong project of distinguishing our distress from our thinking. For me this contradicted early hurts that pull me to adopt a victim attitude toward the value of my thinking. For a week after this class, I was better able to notice my mind, put my attention on my thinking, and enjoy the process of thinking. 

THE RC POLICY ON PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS

We spent two classes discharging on the RC policy on psychiatric drugs. We wanted people to look directly at whatever feelings came up about the policy, whether they were “good” or “bad” feelings. We read the policy out loud together several times. Then I counseled each person in front of the group for five minutes, as most of them hadn’t yet discharged systematically on “mental health” liberation. We also did lots of mini-sessions and had long discharge turns in groups.

“MENTAL HEALTH" STORIES

In our final class we told and discharged on our “mental health” stories. Someone who has been successfully in getting off psychiatric drugs told her story, including how she has built a team of people and trained them to think about her “mental health” liberation, which includes counseling her on early terror. I am a member of her team. She said she felt safer telling her story after everyone had discharged in groups on their own “mental health” stories.

CONCLUSION

This series of classes allowed me to give our class members important sessions. Several of them had significant re-evaluations. I recovered a clearer view of my own intelligence and moved through a lot of old fear by being visible on a liberation topic I care deeply about. I built resource around myself as a “mental health” system survivor. And not only was it useful for me, it was also so much fun!

Sarah Harre

Somerville, Massachusetts, USA

(Present Time 183, April 2016)


1 Marsha Hunter is the Area Reference Person for Somerville, Massachusetts, USA.
2 The policies for the RC Communities
3 The RC journal about “mental health” liberation
4 The Sunrise Center will be a residential drug-free recovery center based on Re-evaluation Counseling theory and practice. It will assist people to free themselves from psychiatric drugs and to teach others to do the same. Through the intensive use of RC, residents will get help with the symptoms of withdrawal as well as the emotional feelings that resurface as the drugs leave their system. They will be active partners in this endeavor, in collaboration with the staff. The goal will be for residents to get off the drugs safely and return home in charge of their emotions, able to use the tools of RC, and with a support system waiting for them.
5 Janet Foner is the International Liberation Reference Person for “Mental Health” Liberation.
See Recovery and Re-emergence No. 5, page 36.


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00