People with mental illnesses are often forced into the Canadian psychiatric complex, whether through inpatient detainment, prescription of drugs or other ways. Mad movements in Canada mirror much of the same principles as the disability rights movement, by using mental illnesses as a source of pride and an identity.

Though there is nothing wrong with voluntarily seeking counselling or drug treatments, when these are interventions taken on behalf of people’s well being by the system things become problematic. Often the rights of people in the psychiatric complex are trampled, they are manipulated and coerced.

A big part of the mad movement is understanding and appreciating differences in the human experience. There’s not one specific way to deal with the psychiatric complex, especially if you must use the system for lack of other options. Rather than being handed down information from on high, the psychiatric survivors` movement values the knowledge of peers. This fact sheet from the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault debunks some common myths about mad activism.


Dealing with the psychiatric complex

The Icarus project has amazing guides: this one covers how to start a mad activist group in your community. From creating safer space to peer counselling groups, this zine style guide is full of information to get a collective started.

Their other guide is about when someone chooses to come off of psychiatric medication. Though not recommenced for everyone or without supervision, the guide covers harm reduction during this time.

The history of madness in Canada breaks the silence of mental health history.

Canadian Coalition for Alternative Mental Health’s resources page is full of guides aimed at helping survivors understand the mental health system and use it to their advantage.

Mad students’ society and Mad Pride Toronto are great collectives to start connecting with for more information.