Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Can we as individuals with lived experience (consumers of mental health services) ever agree on enough issues to have a real voice in making the policies which determine so much about our lives?  I have received services since I was fifteen which is over fifty years and have been actively advocating since 1988 and my answer is increasingly leaning to the negative.  I don’t ever see us putting together a consensus voice with enough clout to influence the outcome of the national debate.

First, the majority of us are too poor to get into the money game to have any real influence in any political campaign.  Poverty works against a number of people and their issues in this country, but it certainly can be put at the top of the list for us.

Second, no national organization that I am aware of has managed to organize enough of a grassroots participatory process to convince anybody they have the right to speak on behalf on any great number of us.  This lack of honest authentic grassroots organization of persons with lived experience makes any organization lack credibility when saying they represent us.

Third, we have been unsuccessful in getting the media to portray us in a fair way.  This is unlikely to change.  We have some great writers and they answer articles that appear in print, but I am afraid we are losing that battle.  For example, I often see something Laurie Coker, Executive Director of NC CANSO has written in response to an article she has seen.  I am glad people do respond, but overall I think we are losing.

I am not giving up, but we need new ideas and new blood.  We need an agenda that a majority can agree on without it being so weak it is meaningless.  I would like to see it before I die, because I am tired of having to live in fear of being locked away without ever committing a crime other than the fact that some people do not like my mind.

© Ed Cooper, January 13, 2015
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