Featured Advocates and Activists
"The Civil Rights Movement of this decade is Mental Health Care quality and equality."
-- Updated September 26, 2007 --


    The mission of this page is to provide a discussion of the words "advocate" and "activist" and to point to some examples of folks who are activists and advocates in the mental health and chemical dependency arenas.

    One of the most significant issues to keep in mind when thinking about advocates and activists in human services, and especially in mental health, is the fact that there are many sides to the human equation and many ways to look at mental health care.

    There is still major controversy about many issues, including involuntary outpatient and inpatient treatment, the probable over-utilization of psychotropic medications, the lack of resources or the will and motivation to create resources that would allow for less restrictive treatment situations that would rely more on recovery, re-education, support, and wrap-around care instead of so much on the use of medications.

    Because there are advocates and activists on both sides of many of the beliefs and practices in mental health care, this page will spotlight some major Web sites and personalities from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill to Mad Nation, and from E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., to Peter Breggin, M.D., and David Oaks of the Support Coalition International.

      What About the Word "Activist"?

    During the past few years, many people have learned to dislike the term "activist" for various reasons. One significant reason for the word earning its newer, lower rating, is that many activists have become "too" active. That is, they have adopted more confrontational tactics in their quest for change.

    Although the more "in-your-face" approach has not been found so much in the mental health care arena, the "a" word has begun to carry an unfortunate burden. I would like to think of the term "activist" as meaning someone who is active rather than passive, someone who works for improvement and gives support rather than just thinking or talking about it. At that level, I wish to promote your activist inclinations on this page.

    An example of a wonderful activist and advocate can be found in the person of Eleanor Owen, who co-founded the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) in Wisconsin in 1979. She was also the co-founder of the Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill (WAMI) in 1978. We continue to be blessed by her direct and ongoing activist and advocacy endeavors in the State of Washington, even though she has "retired" from service with WAMI.

    Read more about Eleanor Owen and her "retirement" and near future plans in Champion for the Mentally Ill Pursues Mission in Retirement, written by Kimberly B. Marlowe for the Seattle Times.

      King County Proclamations and Exemplary Service Awards!

      More Hot Advocates -- NMHA and NAMI.

      E. Fuller Torrey, M.D. and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).

    The Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) can keep you updated with all the latest news about outpatient and inpatient commitment laws. The Treatment Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating legal and clinical barriers to timely and humane treatment for millions of Americans with severe brain disorders who are not receiving appropriate medical care.

    They state "Current federal and state policies hinder treatment for psychiatrically ill individuals who are most at risk for homelessness, arrest, or suicide. As a result, 40 percent of the 4.5 million individuals with schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness (bipolar disorder), an estimated 1.8 million people, are not being treated for their illness at any given time."

    E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., is the psychiatrist who caused a furor in the early 1970s when he argued that schizophrenia was a disease of the brain and not a condition caused by family behavior -- a theory dismissed by most psychiatrists at the time. His view, at this time, is proving to be the most correct one.

    Several articles are available at The Treatment Advocacy Center Web site:

      Human Rights in Mental Health Care.

    The following are links to some Web sites and organizations that have focused on human rights, freedom, recovery, over-medication, and resilience issues. Patient rights and patient survivors should always have a voice in the work of bringing about appropriate, scientifically valid and less intrusive mental health and chemical dependency treatment.

    • The Thomas Szasz Cybercenter for Liberty and Responsibility. This web site is dedicated to the life and work of Thomas S. Szasz, M.D. In it you will find information from friends and colleagues sharing similar points of view to those of Thomas Szasz on diverse topics ranging from psychiatry and law, to drugs and addiction, to psychotherapy and public policy.

    • Mind Freedom - "Win human rights in the mental health system" is Mind Freedom's mission.

    • Successful Schizophrenia. Successful Schizophrenia is a web site dedicated to raising awareness of the constructs which currently and historically exist within the field of mental health. The training procedures in psychiatry, clinical psychology and allied fields brainwash practitioners into sustaining a dysfunctional system while expelling and discrediting those who think for themselves. Our site is meant to provide critical information that is suppressed elsewhere, to allow for our visitors to connect with each other, and be reassured that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

    • Psychiatric Drug Facts by Peter R. Breggin, M.D. Dr. Breggin has been informing the professions, media and the public about the potential dangers of drugs, electroshock, psychosurgery, involuntary treatment, and the biological theories of psychiatry for over three decades. He is the author of dozens of scientific articles and more than fifteen professional books about psychiatric medication, the FDA and drug approval process, the evaluation of clinical trials, and standards of care in psychiatry and related fields.

    • National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy. NARPA is dedicated to promoting those policies and pursuing those strategies that represent the preferred options of people who have been labeled mentally disabled. NARPA is committed to advocating the abolishing of all forced treatment laws. NARPA believes the recipients of mental health services are capable of and entitled to make their own choices, and they are, above all, equal citizens under the law. To the extent that the recipients and former recipients may need assistance to support or express or achieving their preferences, NARPA is committed to promoting rights protection and advocacy which focuses upon both the right to choose and the specific choices of those who request assistance. Therefore, NARPA's fundamental mission is to help empower people who have been labeled mentally disabled so that they may learn to independently exercise their rights.

    • Alternative Mental Health is a Web site guide "to assist and promote non-harmful, alternative (non-psychiatric) methods and practitioners for helping the mentally disturbed. Our purpose is to provide education and choice to the public in the matter of alternative mental health practices. Our main concern is that the vast majority of people with severe mental symptoms have overlooked physical ailments. So our aim is to educate the public on this matter and recommend the medical problems be addressed as a matter of first priority. That is why we list in our directory doctors and practitioners who concentrate on medical and nutritional treatment of severe mental symptoms."

      Thank You for Stopping By!

        - Best wishes, Ron Sterling M.D. (Seattle, Washington, USA)

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