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Here is a letter to the editor published in the main daily newspaper for Eugene, Oregon, USA, written by the director of MindFreedom, David Oaks. The letter asks why Governor Kulongoski of Oregon has budgeted zero for the state-wide voice of mental health consumers and psychiatric survivors since 2003. There's an easy way you can ask the Governor.

Letter to editor: Why does Governor budget zero for voice of mental health clients?

Author: David W. Oaks, Director, MindFreedom International

Source: The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA



Governor is the real obstacle


The Register-Guard’s recent guest viewpoints and letters about humane alternatives in mental health are appreciated. This community dialogue is healing and necessary.

I’ve studied the history of the mental health system over the centuries. Minor reform is not enough. Reform often results in more money for more of the same. One step to deeper change is to start to listen to the diverse perspectives of mental health consumers, psychiatric survivors and their organizations.

Most of the states support the statewide voice of mental health clients in some way, even if small. Most states fund an office of mental health consumer affairs, a statewide conference or a newsletter to support the empowerment of our citizens who are diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities. Many leaders in Oregon’s mental health system and Legislature endorse this common sense idea.

Our advocacy group concludes that a top obstacle to real change in Oregon’s mental health system is in the office of Gov. Ted Kulongoski.

Since Kulongoski took office, his budget item for the statewide voice of mental health clients has been eliminated. The governor has continued to recommend that this funding stay at zero, even while he raised about half a billion dollars to build huge new psychiatric institutions.

Now I hear Kulongoski say that as a superdelegate he may override the majority of Democratic voters in Oregon’s May 20 presidential primary. Is there a pattern here of the governor squelching the voices of Oregonians? Let’s all ask him.

David W. Oaks

Executive director

MindFreedom International

Eugene

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Lauren Tenney, psychiatric survivor activist from New York State

First involuntarily institutionalized, at 15, Lauren Tenney is a survivor of psychiatry. She has been involved with the user and survivor movement since 1992. Her goal is to help stop forced psychiatric procedures, detainment, and confinement, human rights violations, psychiatric abuse and torture. Of particular concern are the elimination of forced electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) on people of all ages, but particularly children and senior citizens, forced drugging, restraints, seclusion, behavioral interventions, and coercion of any kind. Lauren, a Mad-Activist/ Artist/ Author/ Academic/ Adjunct Professor is coordinating The Opal Project, an outcome of participatory action research she coordinated for field research in the PhD program in Environmental Psychology at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her dissertation topic is: "The Institutionalized "Community." She became involved with WE THE PEOPLE when the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights and MindFreedom International needed someone on the ground in Brooklyn, New York to coordinate a response where Esmin Green was murdered-by-neglect. She now lives in Albany, NY with her service dog-in-training and cat. For more info: www.TheOpalProject.org and www.etrash.tv
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