This is another open thought piece. It's not fully finished out, in part because the words haven't been ever been written for me. Not in quite this way. I had to build it myself. Not as a "hobby".
It is an act of survival against oppressive forces.
It's taken a lot for me to, conceptually, free myself from standard notions of mental health. Notions that I was taught for years by both experts and lay communities. I now feel ready to state the following as a position statement. I believe in can be proven as objective fact and I invite the community to help explore this.
Establishment mental health care is, extremely, discriminatory and prejudiced.
What does this mean? This goes beyond just "cultural competency", thought that's a very real issue that's connected to the larger issue this post is attempting to address. What is trying to be said here includes that mental health is built on the idea of "healthy". It's right there in the term mental health. Other words for health include "functional", "survive versus thrive", and other such notions.
An absolutely critical question is - who developed the establishment conceptualizations of what "health" is and isn't? And ... who didn't?
The current most common answer is that establishment health care is scientific. That science has answered for us what healthy is. What's not talked about is whether we did the science as it should be done.
The endeavor of science, in part, relies on coming to consensus. I suffer from emotional distress. I am a failed service user and trauma survivor. I also do not support the findings of establishment science about my condition. Consensus has not been established with me, nor with a sizable number of my peers.
Good science would mean investigating this disagreement openly and with humility. That is not what currently happens. We are constantly told that we are wrong. We are never given funding or support to pursue our claims. We are told to go away if we disagree. That is not "science". That is oppression.
We need to talk about who built the first definitions of health. Was it anyone from the dozens of marginalized communities, including the the entire suite of people labeled "mad", "crazy", or in "emotional and cognitive distress". No, it wasn't.
We need to talk about what "functional" and "thriving" means. So much of the science defines thriving not through individualized definitions, but through socially imposed one. Get a job. Get married. Contribute to society. These are the metrics by which mental health and behavioral has long been judged.
The normative behavioral standards of current dominant society are the standard by which patients and services have always been judged. To this day, behavioral health literature contains dozens of normative ableist, racist, sexist, and every other flavor of marginalization.
The science is asking the wrong question. It is asking prejudiced questions. Oppressive questions. Quite literally, and this may be hard to here, but the evidence-based literature is defining oppression as success.
Do I support following evidence as a way to build knowledge? Yes.
Do I support the way knowledge is currently built in mental health research and policy? Absolutely not.
The often well-meaning, supposed "help" community is based on a foundation that it knows what health is and isn't, and it promises to get you to its definition of health. There is currently no room being made in the establishment systems questioning the standardized definitions of health.
That is an act of oppression.
You want to build a community here. I genuinely see that. I want to appreciate it. I definitely could use more community and allyship that I currently have, and that's likely true for many readers here.
For this to be a place of support for my cohort, I need the above questioned to start being asked. Asked a heck of a lot louder than they currently are. Have some true consensus built about what it means to define to mental health. And understand both the historic and continued ongoing prejudice that has plagued my people, the "mad" and the "crazy", for centuries.
I am open to dialogue on this point. As I say, I don't need to be "right" on this, but I do need to not be "wrong".
If this post is disagreeable to you the principles of charity and humility call on you to question your beliefs before you call on me to defend mine. At stake is that I am the one this field is attempting to help. I am the service user. I am the one you don't have consensus with yet.
True science is building consensus with me, and equipping me with the resources to help do so. Oppression is telling me to go away. Oppression is telling me I'm not oppressed. That last point maybe stings the most of all.
Failed Service User, Peer Support Provider, and Mental Health Advocate
Home Website (under development): http://www.socialrealitylab.com/
I am available for consultation, trainings, and speaking engagements.