Climate Change and “Mental Health” Liberation

I was an ally at the recent Ex-psychiatric Inmates and Allies Workshop led by Janet Foner, the International Liberation Reference Person for “Mental Health” Liberation, and Rachel Noble, the Regional Reference Person for Oregon, USA. At the workshop I called a topic table on “Climate Change and ‘Mental Health’ Liberation.” The following are some of the perspectives and insights from the group:

  • We are in a climate emergency. It requires prompt, large, radical action.
  • “Mental health” oppression tells us that we should not get too upset. It encourages us to numb ourselves and be “normal” rather than take radical action. It threatens to label us as “crazy” and lock us up if we make too big a fuss [express too much excitement or anger].
  • We can’t “turn away.” We have to face and become knowledgeable about how much climate change is damaging the planet—and how little time we have to address it before it becomes irreversible.
  • Most of us can’t look at these realities very often or for very long—we feel too much grief, fear, or rage. (The present situation is intrinsically upsetting. It also restimulates early hurts—from being overwhelmed, other people not understanding, being powerless to change things, and so on.) We may even feel that looking steadily at climate change will make us “go ‘crazy.’”
  • Like most people, we may find it difficult to feel and discharge big feelings about the climate because “mental health” oppression tells us that it is wrong, unwise, and dangerous to feel “too much.”
  • We need to feel our feelings about the climate catastrophe, be able to tell people about them, and discharge. This is true for everyone; not just RCers.
  • Climate change gives us an opportunity to help everyone understand the importance of discharging feelings, and how that is necessary in order to address the climate crisis.
  • It also gives us an opportunity to realize that we are all “in this together”—that all humans share a common interest in reversing climate change and ending the oppressions that divide us from each other.

Russ Vernon-Jones

Amherst, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion listfor RC Community members

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00