Radical Mental Health//
What is a "crisis?" The Earth is on fire, and it's not getting any better. Is it wrong to cry, scream, or want to die in such conditions? We are all lonely, sick, and nervous. Hearing violent voices or seeing visions of another world may be entirely appropriate responses to a truly uninhabitable world. Why wouldn't you lose your mind in this world? A breakdown can profoundly disrupt our or our loved ones' lives and sap our strength and energy, but they can also be opportunities for learning and growth or more. Peer support models contend that people who hear voices, see visions, or experience rapid/extreme emotional shifts are more likely to be gentle and understanding to others who do as well. We need more spaces where our strangeness can be openly discussed and supported. Hopeless, insane, and suicidal people: let us find each other, learn, grow,and fight.
When something is labelled a "mental health crisis," a central assumption is that such a person needs a "mental health solution." Are we always so sure? Having no access to housing, money, or other resources just is distressing. Why is it deemed obvious or natural that those who appear to be in distress need therapy, medication, or incarceration? It seems just as likely such a person would need money, housing, company, or food. Rather than offering psychotropic medications to those who seem to be "insane" as a first response, why not try $1,000, lunch, or a free room? Material support shifts the understanding of crisis to include our material conditions as inexorably tied to our physical and psychological presence without collapsing one into the other.
"Mental health" issues are commonly treated as a purely medical problem to be dealt with by experts, but, unlike most other medical issues, the diagnosis of a mental disorder can result in incarceration, surveillance, and forced treatment. They are in equal part legal problems worked out by lawyers and judges. Patients have the right to seek out counsel or a new lawyer and push for a different treatment plan than is proposed by a psychiatrist or judge. The typical civil commitment court lasts just a few minutes, but it can decide months to years of one's life. Legal process around commitment and incompetency proves that madness is not a simple medical problem but something which involves legal/political concepts of citizenship, agency, and freedom.