I am doing a workshop again this year in UCC titled ’Critical Perspectives on and Beyond the Therapy Industry’ thanks to critical thinking lecturers in the university. My workshop is titled’ Beyond Psychiatry – Beyond Experts – Beyond Therapy – Back to Ourselves’ It is not easy to have views outside the box in any fixed system and the educational system is no exception.

One of the first lecturers I got to know many years ago was Lydia Sapouna. She is from Greece and is lively and not afraid to show her emotions. I initially met her in Tullamore in 2002 where I spoke in public for the first time. We got to know each other and we continue to work together ever since. She has also helped many other survivors of psychiatric oppression find their voices. It was speaking out that helped me to value myself, find my true self and each day continue to grow in confidence. This would have been almost impossible if I did not get safely free from the drugs which, for decades, continued to alter my true self. I later got to know more open minded lecturers like Harry Gijbels, Rick Deedy, Orla O’Donovan and Kathy Glavanis and each of them in their own way are turning the wheels of revolution at the University College Cork.

This year yet another lecturer called Karen McCarthy is doing a workshop on Thursday as part of the CVNI conference titled’ A Doing Therapy: Exploring Occupational Therapy as Another Way to Support People in Distress’ I know Karen for a few years having first met her when MindFreedom Ireland spoke as a group at the launch of Dylan Tighe’s outstanding play called ‘Record’ 2011. She supports our work and has invited our musical group ‘A little help from my friends” to play and talk to her students each November ever since. It is so good to witness how she is a lecturer with a difference and how the students love and respect Karen. She is not afraid to be herself. It is not surprising then that she does not advocate labelling people and putting them into boxes. She is a breath of fresh air, an inspiration to other lecturers to let down their hair and trust themselves. Maybe when we have more lecturers like Lydia and Karen the gates of academia will open and students will be critical thinkers with loving hearts and a minds of their own!

Mary Maddock 9th November 2015