America’s mental health system may be unfixable. Fortunately, there’s an alternative

By LD GREEN: For More Info, Go Here…

The mental health system stresses individual diagnostics and drugs. What if society itself is the problem?

The mental health system is failing us. Moreover, the way the mental health industry and our culture at large conceives of “mental illness” is designed to fail us. That’s why people are more and more engaging with alternatives to it, using peer support, community, and mutual aid.

Mutual aid is not a new thing—arguably it’s one of the oldest ideas in human history —but our conscious use of it in the context of mental health holds a radically important promise: rather than just coping with and adjusting to society through the mental health system, we can actually heal ourselves and shift the culture.

When I couldn’t find enough healing or hope or meaning in clinics, I found peer support and mutual aid in the form of 12-step community and The Icarus Project, “a support network and education project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness” The Icarus Project gave me many things, most importantly friendships, and it also gave me mad pride. I now honor and mind carefully my “dangerous gifts.” This is not to say therapy can’t be beneficial; some of it has been. And at times, it has done me harm. But mutual aid has transformed my life, has helped me heal, and at its best, can transform society. Wikipedia solidly defines mutual aid as “ a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. Mutual aid, as opposed to charity, does not connote moral superiority of the giver over the receiver.” In this context, therapists and psychiatrists certainly can (but don’t always) embody a toxic “moral superiority,” whereas people freely holding space for each others’ emotional processes unlocks human potential for all involved.

When people share histories of trauma with each other, we can also share tremendous insight. Most importantly, when we create an atmosphere of mutual respect and equality that fosters wisdom and healing. In this way, mutual aid gives us something the biomedical model and the unequal power dynamics between professionals and “patients” cannot. Engaging in the very process of mutual aid itself is an antidote to the biomedical model and the flawed system it has generated.

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