Founded in 2004, MindFreedom Ireland is an affiliate of MindFreedom International and with them, campaigns for a non-violent revolution in the mental health system.
The year commenced with the launch of two books. The first ‘Knowledge in Mental Health; Reclaiming the Social’ was edited by MF Ireland member and University College Cork lecturer Lydia Sapouna in conjunction with Peter Lehmann. The second ˜Soul Survivor – A Personal Encounter with Psychiatry’ by Mary and Jim Maddock was launched by active disability campaigner Kathy Sinnott, MEP in Dublin in January, an event also attended by Tim O’Malley, the Irish government minister with responsibility for mental health and Grainne Humphrys (along with Josh, MF Ireland’s youngest member) who read her wonderful poem. In April, the Irish government Report on the Adverse Effects of Pharmaceuticals was published. MF Ireland members John McCarthy, Greg White, Mary Maddock and especially Nuria O’Mahony had given evidence at the earlier committee hearings and helped in no small way in highlighting the issue. Plans are afoot to organise a follow-up conference in U.C.C. in the autumn of 2008.
A media campaign in which MF Ireland members spoke on national radio and had letters and articles published in the national press continued throughout the year. Linking with the media campaign, John McCarthy stood as a candidate in the general election held in May. Many MF Ireland members formed part of his election campaign team and while John failed to win a seat, he succeeded in focusing media and political attention on health issues in general and mental health issues in particular. In addition, new member Lidia Walsh spoke very eloquently on Newstalk, the national talk radio station while another significant success was the dropping of an offensive advertisement from the national press due to representations made by MF Ireland in conjunction with Depression Dialogues.
A highlight of the year was Ireland’s first electroshock public protest held in solidarity with similar protests in Canada and the U.S in May. Despite apaaling weather conditions on the day, the event attracted support from a number of politicians including Green party TD Dan Boyle. A special thanks is due to Mel O’Dea and Tim Nyhan for organising the electroshock facts and statistics leaflets and to Martin Hynes and Colette Ni Dhuinneacha who made their maiden public speeches on the issue. A prominent report on the protest was carried in The Irish Times of the following day.
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS.
Mf Ireland was represented at a number of conferences both at home and abroad throughout the year. These included the Cork Advocacy Network conference on Mental Health and the Law, the WPA conference in Dresden in June, the Wisdom House 3 day conference Creative Revolution; Turning our Minds Around in Connecticut in July, the Dublin City University Health4Life conference in September and the Manchester Recovery conference in November. On World Mental Health Day in October, MF Ireland members Martin Hynes, Maria O’Mahony, Lidia Walsh and Mary Maddock manned the MF Ireland information stand in UCC while on the same day Colette Ni Dhuinneacha and John McCarthy represented MF Ireland at the launch of the government’s National Service Users Executive Strategic Plan 2007-2009 in Dublin. A number of other members also spoke in public fora throughout the year. Dorothee Krien and Mel O’Dea spoke at the Mind, Body Spirit conference in Cork while Mary and John did likewise in Dublin.
In June, Mary and John, on the advice of Kathy Sinnott, Vice-Chair of the Committee, submitted a petition to the European Commission Petitions Committee then touring Ireland. Their petition entitled ˜The illegality of Ireland’s Mental Health Act of 2001 as it concerns the forced use of mind-altering drugs on unwilling patients’ was accepted by the Commission in Brussels who have promised to investigate the matter further.
MF Ireland established close links with fellow organisations throughout the year, in particular with Patients Rights Advocacy in New Zealand, the Soteria network in Britain, Psychrights in Alaska, CAPA in Canada and Depression Dialogues in Ireland. Mary Maddock is currently working to encourage the establishment of new MindFreedom International affiliates in other European countries.
MF Ireland would like to pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of Dr. Terence McLoughlin, Director of Asylum, whose untimely death occurred in September. Terence was a lifelong campaigner for the rights of the underdog and our good friend. Finally, the year ended on a further poignant note with a remembrance event on December 28 to mark the first anniversary of the death of one of our founder-members, Helena King. It is the unquenchable spirit of Terence and Helena which will sustain us as we commence what we hope will be another successful year.
December 31st, 2007