Campaign battles forced incarceration

THE use of force within the mental health services whereby people can be incarcerated and treated against their will must be stopped.

This is the hard-hitting message from a national ad campaign, Decriminalising Human Emotions, launched by campaigning support group Mad Pride Ireland.

Mad Pride, founded by John McCarthy, hopes to influence the review of the Mental Health Act through a submission to Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch, and is calling on people to visit its website to sign a petition calling for the end of force.

Mr McCarthy pointed out that under the 2001 Mental Health Act, the “mad community” can be forced incarcerated and force treated against our will.

“It is time for new thinking and new leadership in mental health. Force as treatment is defunct.

“RTÉ’s Behind the Walls shows this, Mad Pride Ireland are not only featured in this documentary it helped put it together,” he said.

“You will be horrified by what this will show and what our national campaign will show.

“It is time for action that will dismantle this current abusive system that relies on force to cure.

“Too many are now speaking out. They will not be silenced again.”

Mad Pride’s campaign, running on local and national radio, features snapshots of two poignant stories.

The first tells of Josie, who after being raped at 17, was locked up by her family because they could not deal with her behaviour. She is now in her 70s and still locked away.

The second deals with the story of John Hunt, who featured in the Irish Examiner’s recent special investigation, who at 30 has spent six years locked away from his partner and son.

According to Mad Pride, these stories are tip of a “massive iceberg”.

Mental health “survivor” and campaigner Mary Maddock was locked up in a psychiatric hospital in the 1970s and 1980s and received ECT.

“Having got my records, done intense research for years and reflected on my life since, it is very clear that the psychiatric treatments I received were responsible for some of the behaviour that was misunderstood as psychoses,” she says.

“When I was young and naively thought that medicine was good I thought I had a ‘mental’ problem.”

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