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doling out the pills--bringing icarus to workers

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doling out the pills--bringing icarus to workers

Postby eris » Nov 12, 2007 2:57 am

i had a really interesting and energizing conversation tonight with two friends who have/do work in group homes, about how fucked up they feel about the role they have played/do play in the mental health system and trying to do the work in the least fucked up way they can but recognizing that the role they play is, in the current model, fundamentally oppressive. and also about how they are underpaid and the jobs are kept part time so they don't receive health insurance....and that here in minneapolis, apparently, they have been trying to organize into a union (i need more details on that though, i'm not sure to what extent). that it is a cycle and a structure that is inherently unhealthy for all involved.
and me talking about how i've been thinking so much about how to bring the idea of radical mental health to providers--not just find ones that are already knowledgable but to reach people who arent' but are open, or who are on the road to becoming providers (like the people i'm in school with) and what power that could have, to radicalize the people passing out the pills...

i don't know...this is on my mind so much and important to me because i am on this road to becoming a 'provider', something i feel continually conflicted about, and trying to figure out how to do that in way that spreads the things i believe in, that incorporates and eminates mad pride.

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Postby silverelf » Nov 12, 2007 3:43 am

I think that imagining the "Mental Health System" as some monolithic thing is generally bad. There's folks with amazing intentions, but fucked up politics and folks with a complete lack of empathy, but some other really necessary skills, and people that recognize the whole system is broken but don't know what to do and every other combination in quantity. Good, bad, and indifferent I've seen em and probably so have you.

So I do think it would be great to offer more outreach to service providers, especially as you say, the "grunts" who often have the most day-to-day contact with mad folks in places like group homes but often aren't part of the medical-industrial complex in any formalized way -- ie; don't really have a vested stake in things staying as they are.

That being said, I'm perhaps personally more interested in getting together lists of already down service providers for folks in our communities that need a therapist, pdoc, reiki practitioner or whathaveyou right here and now
Do not spend a lot
of time in an asylum writing cruel poems
if you can help it, one Artaud is enough.
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Postby Inel » Nov 12, 2007 10:31 am

i have been working with my collective friends for a while on bringing the word to those who are working in the mighty machine. there are a couple of "providers" one still in/one just out who come to our collective meetings. one is one of our biggest cheerleaders and always remarks, "shit, you guys can do for each other what they system never could or will..." he's fascinated by us but also frustrated by the limitations of his profession. he has the most amazing ethics and has never been anything but an equal in our collective.

during a major phase of system collapse, our collective hosted a playback theatre performance to mediate a dialogue with those involved. there were lots of people with mental health issues and system workers from the highest muckity mucks to the front line workers present (about 50 in all). it was amazingly healing and the mediated truth telling session has since been talked about ever since from people in it and outside of it.

currently, in my community there is a real uprising of energy (i like going where energy flows) from the folks working within who are hurting and feeling helpless. we are working towards a community conversation/open space planning session with those working with and within the system...dreaming the future together. asking the question what are our hopes and dreams as people working with and within the mental health system? how do we take care of ourselves with/in a system that is sicker than we will ever be? and such envisioning possibilities beyond what currently exists and sharing existing resources.

finding a safe place and promoting it underground. no one will have to tell of their direct agency affiliation or diagnosis. provider friends who have tried to organize have been helping to organize this pointing out blind to get fearful folks to show up, how to create a safe space where truth without fear of consequence can be told? we'd like to get folks from the healing community to offer mini-massage/healing certificates for those who participate. still in progress...i'll let you know how it goes.

our collective has been around a while and we get a lot of folks coming who people in the system (therapists, case managers, psychiatrists) refer to our group. basically, they send folks who are dealing with issues they don't know how/or can't address like, gender identity issues, those who question or distrust the system, reject traditional forms of "treatment", etc. many of us who still dance in or on the edges of the traditional system are individually educating our "providers" and they too are hungry for options and transformation. we share resources and tools we find helpful. i think it is powerful and important work to shake it up from both the outside and inside. i'd love to think of a simple format for bringing mini-radical mental health skill shares to agency staff meetings with handouts and take home tools (the HR guide is a good start).

a lot of this has come out of too many conversations about "my therapist needs a therapist" and how fucked up it is that they system is hiring any person who wants to avoid fast food work. increasing the number of paraprofessionals and adding peer support specialists to a really warped version of community support services is merely a fiscal move on the systems part and has become a major labor issue. its high time to begin "bridging these unlikely connections" and call for more meaningful relevant helpful services.

other community conversations that are asking to be had here are...
"Families, Fear & Force"
and one with faith leaders to get some consensus on how to be more helpful and less harmful to folks in mental/emotional extremes.
oh, and i posted a thread that got no responses a little while back about the role of providers and need for them to step up...

there is a link there to a local resource for providers to share and find support through the trauma of working in a sick system. imperfect, but a cool start.
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Postby Amy » Nov 12, 2007 12:50 pm


I know I may have said this before, but you totally rock. Your group there has their pulse on all the right stuff.

Freakin' fantastic. Revolutionary.

mad love-
<p>the beauty of the rain is how it falls</p>
<p>how it falls</p>
<p>how it falls --dar</p>
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