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Mad in America: Rethinking Mental Health

The Mad in America podcast, hosted by James Moore, examines mental health with a critical eye by speaking with psychologists, psychiatrists and people with lived experience.

When you hear such conversations, you realise that much of what is believed to be settled in mental health is actually up for debate. Is mental health a matter of faulty biology or is there more to it? Are the treatments used in psychiatry helpful or harmful in the long term? Are psychiatric diagnoses reliable? With the help of our guests, we examine these questions and so much more. 

This podcast is part of Mad in America’s mission to serve as a catalyst for rethinking psychiatric care and mental health. We believe that the current drug-based paradigm of care has failed our society and that scientific research, as well as the lived experience of those who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, calls for profound change. 

On the podcast over the coming weeks, we will have interviews with experts and those with lived experience of the psychiatric system. Thank you for joining us as we discuss the many issues around rethinking mental health around the world.

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Dec 9, 2017

This week on MIA Radio, we interview Chris Hansen. Chris started working in New Zealand as an activist after a psychiatric hospitalization 20 years ago. 

She has provided advice and media comment locally, regionally and nationally, including work with the New Zealand Mental Health Commission and Ministry of Health. 

She was a member of the New Zealand delegation to the United Nations for the development of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as working as a board member for the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry. 

For the past 12 years, she has worked with Shery Mead developing Intentional Peer Support and is currently in the role of director.

In this interview, we talk about Chris’s personal experiences of the mental health system and how Intentional Peer Support approaches contrast with mainstream psychiatry. 

In the episode we discuss:

  • How Chris was working in the mental health system, before herself experiencing a psychiatric hospitalization.
  • How she experienced personal loss during the time that she was hospitalized.
  • How Chris found that her experiences led to a realisation that she didn't want to work on the medical side of the mental health system and instead focussed her efforts on peer support.
  • That Chris’s experiences led to her becoming an activist, working locally, regionally and nationally in advisory and contract positions, including the NZ Mental Health Commission and Ministry of Health.
  • That peer support gave Chris the hope, the inspiration and the desire to recover from her traumatic experiences of forced hospitalization and treatment with psychiatric drugs.
  • How involvement with advocacy for the abolishment of forced treatment led Chris to work with the United Nations for the development of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as working as a board member for the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry.
  • How Intentional Peer Support works to makes connections with and support those who struggle with their mental health.
  • How IPS supports and trains a wide range of organisations such as the mental health services, the police and people in the disability sector amongst others.
  • How peer support distinguishes itself from mainstream psychiatric or psychological approaches.
  • That learning to reconnect with people is vitally important in recovery. 

Relevant links:

Intentional Peer Support

Intentional Peer Support, a personal perspective by Shery Mead

Intentional Peer Support: Creating Relationships, Creating Change

Intentional Peer Support, upcoming trainings

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© Mad in America 2017