Why Is Legal Reform an Important Aspect of the Mad Movement

The movement has also been criticized. Organized psychiatry often views radical consumer groups as extremist, as having little scientific basis and no defined leadership, as “constantly trying to limit the work of psychiatrists and the care of harsh psychiatrists,” and as promoting misinformation about the use of involuntary engagement, electroconvulsive therapy, stimulants and antidepressants in children and neuroleptics in adults. However, opponents repeatedly argue that psychiatry is territorial and profit-oriented, stigmatizing and undermining the self-determination of patients and former patients. [25] The movement has also spoken out against social stigmatization or mentalism of society at large. Common themes are “Talking about the Power of Psychiatry”, legal protection and advocacy, and self-determination. While movement activists may share a collective identity to some extent, views evolve along a continuum from conservative to radical in terms of psychiatric treatment and resistance levels or patient base. [8] In order to meet the challenge posed by the pandemic to mental health services, it is essential to reform them urgently and fundamentally, along with relevant laws and policies. As in health policy in general, the principle of prevention of human rights violations must be the guiding principle of these reforms. There are many local local consumer/survivor support groups around the world that are an important cornerstone of empowerment. A major barrier to realizing more alternatives for consumers and survivors is the lack of funding. [27] Alternative consumer/survival groups such as the National Empowerment Center[28] in the United States, which receive public funding but question orthodox psychiatric treatment, have often been attacked for receiving public funds[14] and have been suppressed. Mental health reform is an extremely difficult task for all our Member States, given the complexity of the problems and the significant gap between agreed international standards and the reality on the ground.

However, this makes it all the more urgent. Let`s turn the current challenge of the pandemic into an opportunity by fundamentally transforming mental health services in Europe, with human rights as a guide and compass. I also shared my observation that protections designed to protect individuals from arbitrariness and abuse are reduced to mere formalities because they operate in a legal system where people with mental health issues do not even have the opportunity to have their voices heard because of the deep power asymmetry between patient and physician in most mental health facilities. Judges almost always follow the psychiatrist`s opinion on the patient`s wishes, if the law provides for such a possibility. In the worst cases, these protections do little more than ease the conscience of those who actually participate in human rights violations. Mad Pride events, organized by vaguely connected groups in at least seven countries, including Australia, South Africa, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ghana, attract thousands of participants. For some, the goal is to continue destigmatizing mental illness. Another wing rejects the need to treat mental illness with psychotropic drugs and seeks alternatives to the “care” of the medical establishment. Many members of the movement say they publicly discuss their own struggles to help people with similar diseases and inform the public.

[34] One of the main problems of democratic governments is getting legislators to address controversial and sensitive issues such as the reform of the Mental Health Act. Building on the current and past projects of the Australian Law Reform Commission, the Chair of the Commission outlines how permanent legal reform bodies can mobilize expert and community advice to assist the legislative process in adequately addressing the needs of legislative reform. After a brief overview of the history of mental health law reform in English-speaking countries, the author suggests that stages of reform tend to occur in “cycles” or “waves.” This is especially true for associations such as Australia. Reforms introduced in South Australia in 1976 now incorporate the laws of other jurisdictions in Australia, where the Mental Health Act is essentially a government concern. The reforms address issues such as the legal representation of involuntary conscripts and stricter definitions of the circumstances and purposes of hospitalization of the mentally ill. There are some comments on new approaches to defending insanity in criminal trials following the jury verdict in the Hinkley case, which resulted from an assassination attempt on the life of a U.S. president. The implications of this and other cases for the “anti-psychiatry” movement are addressed and discussed. The author concludes by commenting on the impact of Mental Health Act reform on democracies.

It proposes legislation for legislative reform bodies to balance the need for legislative reform with the community`s tolerance for change. In 2019, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted a landmark resolution calling on member states to end coercion in the field of mental health, noting that the number of people subjected to coercion continues to rise in Europe.