Madhouse News

Health Canada is doing a public consultation on the possible formation of a federal mental health commission. There is a one-page survey available on their web site that you can fill in with your specific concerns about mental health issues in Canada and what you feel their priorities should be. And it’s not just multiple choice, so you have plenty of space to fill in your own views however you want. The deadline is Jan 25/07.

Thanks to Adult ADD Strengths for the link!

Susie Bright just reviewed an interesting new book in her blog – Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws, by transsexual activist Kate Bornstein.

In this post, she interviews the author, and compliments her on including “ALL the naughty, politically incorrect, fucked-up, backwards, not-exactly-healthy ways that people DO keep living instead of dying.”

The book, she says, is “fair about every alternative, every pro and con. Drug binges, cutting, fasting, retail hysteria, and soulless fucking, etc. are not ‘great mental health’ — but sometimes if they’re the only thing you can do to keep ticking, then you bloody well do it. It also makes the more ‘wholesome’ alternatives look more credible, instead of patronizing.”

Bornstein says the book came out of her own struggles with suicidal feelings in the past: “I’ve had a lot of reasons to kill myself, and a lot of time to do it in, and I stayed alive by doing things that many consider to be immoral or illegal. I’m glad I did it, because I’ve really enjoyed writing this book.”

Just came across an interesting blog post:

Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain

This whole idea of “mirror neurons” has interesting implications for dealing with depression and anxiety, and in particular makes me wonder about the effects of the way the psychiatric system works — do people, essentially get crazier when they’re locked up with other crazy people? Even peer support groups might have a bit of a mixed effect, though in that case it might be offset by knowing that you’re not alone in whatever you’re dealing with.

I think this could also explain a lot of the bitterness and burnout that one often finds in activist communities.

The down side, of course, of a theory like this is that it makes it easy for self-centred people to cut off compassion for others on the basis that being around anyone who’s having a difficult time for one reason or another is going to psychologically harmful to them.

Maybe the trick is figuring out how to balance having a conscience, and empathy for others, with a reasonable level of self-protection.

Is this really surprising? – U.S. leads in mental illness
Poised to rank No. 1 in world: Study

25% meet criteria for diagnosis


A quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year, and fully 25 per cent of those had a “serious” disorder that significantly disrupted their ability to function every day, says the largest and most detailed survey of the nation’s mental health.

Although parallel studies in 27 other countries are not yet complete, the new numbers suggest the U.S. is poised to rank No. 1 for mental illness globally, researchers said…

(registration required to read full story, but it’s free)