As another year draws to a close, we are happy to report on the continued activities of MindFreedom Ireland.
In 2023 we begin to count down the second decade of our existence.
One of our core principles has always been Mutual Support under our banner of Stand by Me. Though no longer meeting in Costa’s as we did for over 15 years, MFI still responds to people locally here in Cork and also all over Ireland who contact us to air their dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the existing psychiatric services as they have found them. Issues involving excessive psychotropic drugs, lack of appreciation of serious adverse effects and lack of any choice or help in reducing/coming off psychotropic drugs constitute the bulk of most people’s concerns. The feeling that you are not just on your own in dealing with these issues is a great consolation.
Mutual support also lies behind our new Mindfreedomireland Facebook Group which again affords people space to air their concerns and to feel colleagues are listening and respecting them. Right now, there are approximately 350 mostly active members, both in Ireland and abroad.
To this end, we are pleased to be able to report a new Zoom group established by Jerome Koltkamp, comprised solely of people with lived experience and who continues to interact on a monthly basis. The same group also came together to present a workshop at the recent Critical Voices Network Ireland conference in University College, Cork and the benefits for all who participated were clearly to be seen.
In June, we held our annual online meeting with Karen McCarthy and her occupational therapy students in California when we again, with the help of Patrice, Miriam and new supporter Claire Twomey, shared our lived experiences with the next and hopefully more enlightened generation. Recently conferred with a degree in Social Science, Claire would very much be the caring and empathic kind of social worker we would like to see.
Another of our primary objectives is educating the public and to this end, Mary Maddock and Claire Twomey were interviewed on Cork Community Radio while Mary also spoke on a radio show in the US hosted by activist Carol Goss.
Of vital importance in getting our message across is our website mindfreedomireland.com which was revamped and relaunched in November, thanks to the efforts of Tim Hurley. The new website contains a mine of useful information and articles and along with our Facebook page, keeps us in contact with the movement worldwide.
With the removal of lockdown restrictions, we were once again able to stage our annual protest against electroshock in Cork in May. We would like to specifically express our gratitude to two wonderful little girls who produced some very artistic placards for the occasion.
The year concluded with a very enjoyable and morale-boosting Christmas party augmented by some friends of MFI and their children, organised by Claire Maddock even as we remembered some members who could not be with us. Special mention too to Lexie Hurley who is always willing to offer her technical skills and who made a beautiful cake for the occasion.
Sadly, in December, we also learned of the passing before her time of the humble and inspiring American activist and one-time leader of MindFreedom International Celia Brown. MFI made a strong connection with Celia at the Wisdom House Conference in the summer of 2007 and a tribute to Celia can be read on our website. May she rest in peace.
Next year we will celebrate 20 years of existence. We hope to organise an event to mark the anniversary. In the meantime, our work will continue aided by the infusion of enthusiastic younger blood to sustain us as we commence our 3rd decade.
31st December 2022.