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About the Global Mental Health Empowerment Handbook

CBM International awarded MindFreedom a grant to create a handbook that encourages the emerging voice of people diagnosed with psychiatric and other mental disabilities in poor and developing countries. The handbook will share stories of psychiatric survivors and our social change movement, as well as examples of empowerment, recovery, and activism. It will also include practical tips and resources for developing your voice, organizing, and exercising your human rights.

Updated deadline: 31 August 2011

Project Summary


CBM International awarded MindFreedom a grant to create a handbook that encourages the emerging voice of people diagnosed with psychiatric and other mental disabilities in poor and developing countries. The handbook  seeks to inspire psychiatric consumers and survivors to become involved in organizing, taking ownership of their organizations and using the framework of the disability movement.

The World Health Organization has declared a global emergency of human rights violations and disempowerment among those diagnosed with mental disabilities. Unfortunately, the most basic materials for community organizing and leadership development from this constituency’s perspective are virtually non-existent. The handbook will be available to all, but MFI will specifically target Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kosovo, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Serbia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, and Vietnam, where there is a lack of resources and funding to provide basic training and information. MFI will print 3,000 copies of the handbook in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Arabic, and accessible formats.

Handbook Overview


·         We are people!

Puts a human face on our constituency, using examples of leaders taking action, holding support groups, street marches, and artistic and cultural activities. We hope to draw in the reader by showing the diverse range of backgrounds, beliefs, challenges and successes of people with mental disability labels from developing countries. The reader quickly understands that mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors in poor nations can and do speak for themselves, as well as influence in policy.


·         The story of our social change movement

This will provide an overview of the social change movement led by psychiatric survivors, mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors. We will include history, values and principles, and key accomplishments. We will highlight how we have a voce internationally, using specific examples. While we will include pressing human rights issues, the focus will be on hope. We will show how more and more allies within the international cross-disability movement are supportive of our constituency.


·         How to develop your own voice

Includes practical tips, examples of successes, and resources in three areas: (a) developing your voice with family, friends and your immediate community; (b) developing your voice with care providers, social workers, advocates; and (c) developing your voice with policy makers and decision-makers. The handbook will address the United Nations human rights guarantees, as well how to address the national human rights framework in a group's home country.

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We are MFI

Samantha Johnson, psychiatric survivor, MFI intern

Samantha Johnson is a 22-year-old psychiatric survivor who is interning at the MindFreedom International office. "I was absolutely in disbelief at how the people were treated at the hospital. It was an environment of emotional abuse interspersed with 'treatments' and 'policies' that could be more accurately described as assault. The tragic thing is that there really are some good people working there, but they are unable to provide people with the help they need inside a system that prioritizes profits over people. It might take five years of counseling for someone to truly recover from a mental health crisis, but it takes five minutes to tranquilize them. This is why I started working with MindFreedom. For 25 years MFI has been challenging the mental health system to see us as human beings- to treat us as human beings- through peaceful activism. At MFI we emphasize individual choice, empowerment, and compassion as necessary aspects of a true healing process."
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