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CALIFORNIA NETWORK OF MENTAL HEALTH CLIENTS

CNMHC South Region

Description of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Movement
Our Roots in History!
History of the Mental Health Consumer/Survivor/ Ex-patient/ Ex-Inmate/ User Community (Timeline)

The mental health consumer/survivor movement began in California almost thirty (30) years ago, perhaps not coincidentally, at the time of the beginning of deinstitutionaliztion.. Former mental patients began to meet together in groups without psychiatric professionals. These former patients shared their feelings of anger at their abusive treatment and hope for independent living. They began organizing to fight for their rights and to provide support for each other. A new civil rights movement began. Initially, this social change movement concentrated on direct political action and organized in autonomous, grassroots groups, connected only by one newsletter and once a year unfounded Conferences, in campgrounds and universities. In time, as our activities grew, we sought and received funding, mainstreamed so as to reach the millions of mental health consumers who knew nothing about empowerment, and centralized, such as beginning state wide organizations. Today, there are self-help, mutual support groups throughout the country, statewide client advocacy organizations in the majority of states, training Conferences such as the annual Alternatives Conference and countless county and state consumer conferences, national technical assistance centers, the beginning of research by clients about self help and mutual support initiatives, substantive client involvement in policy making and program development and implementation, clients as providers in the mental health system and at management levels, an advance in rights protections and proliferation of lawyers and others protecting our rights. From experiencing oppression we moved to separatist empowerment groups and then to reentering society as equal partners working for social change - often literally reentering the very place in which we were hospitalized or treated.
Prehistory leading up to CNMHC
In the long struggle to achieve true human dignity and personal empowerment for mental health clients, September 1983 was significant in the history of the United States. It was at this time in Sacramento that a new statewide organization composed of individuals whose lives had been dramatically affected by histories of psychiatric diagnoses and treatment come together in conference to form and build the CALIFORNIA NETWORK OF MENTAL HEALTH CLIENTS. This was the first mental health client run state organization in the country.
CNMHC was formed in 1983
The consumer movement in the South Region is based on enlightenment and involvement of individuals with mental health conditions. The current Consumer Movement in the South Region is a grassroots empowerment and self-advocacy initiative inspired by California Proposition 63 that came into law in January 2005.

The CNMHC has helped California clients to envision a mental health system that empowers clients and to push the system in this direction. The mission has not changed: client directed, holistic services in an environment of choice and freedom.
We where at the protest of the American Psychiatric Association's 2009 convention
The protest rally at the American Psychiatric Association's convention was awesome! A once in a life time experience. There where many of the legendary leaders of the Consumer/Survivor Movement there that publicly spoken and mingled with the crowed. I brought a camera and will upload pictures to the groups Photos section as soon as I get them back from the developer and scanned. The protest was a real learning experience. I had thought we would be waving signs and doing a lot of chanting. I was taken by surprise at how many psychiatrists stooped and asked questions of some of us about what and why we where protesting. Many of them seamed genuinely interested in what we had to say. A lot of Mind Freedom International literature was handed out during the first part of the protest rally. Then before most of the conventioneers got inside we unveiled the MFI giant hypodermic syringe the middle of the fore-ya in front of the convention center, it most have been 6 feet long including needle and plunger. It had Mad Pride wrote on one side in big bold letters and the Syringe of Truth on the other side. We started standing around worshiping the "Syringe of Truth" until one protesters volunteered to take the injection of truth for the entire crowed. We then started parading in front of the convention center chanting slogans like the syringe of truth will take away all your problems, it will kill you but you will not have mental problems. After some of us donned white jackets we marched right up to the front entrance doors and symbolically gave the APA a big giant injection of truth. For some reason SF finest where standing down during our assault on the APA. I really think the cops that where patrolling the parameters just did not know what to think of of us or what the heck we where doing. The conventioneers that where coming and going sure got the message when MFI director, David Oaks and a few others started scanning them, with robber chicken, for normality. We where peaceful and never impeded anyone movements in and out of the building. We just waved chickens in front of and in back of them like the security guards at the air port waning everyone. Some conventioneers thought it so hilarious they where actually waiting around to watch others being scanned with rubber chickens. After the psychiatrists got all the way through our schooners others of us handed them them certificates of congratulation no normality was found in you, you may proceed. After most of the conventioneers where inside representatives of the the groups that sponsored the protest gave inspirational out side to the crowed of protesters that had gather from all over the country. I had come prepared to speak to the conventioneers and talked at the mike early on about the evils of drudging children while the bus loads of psychiatrists where walking by us. I could have spoken again during open mike after the speakers all gave their takes but I was so taken in by what so many of the legendary consumer leaders had to say to the protesters that I did not fell I could contribute anything more to the inspiration of the group. The rally was still going on after 4Pm when I finally got overtaken by all the information and the hot whether, supposedly it turned out to be the hottest day in a long time, only in the upper 90's but for anyone from a coastal community like I am from that is a scorcher. The rally continued the next day, at 10:00am some entering the convention center its self while chanting and waving signs. The rally continues to be non-violent, our message got to the conventioneers loud and clear.

Movement History of the Consumer/ Client/ Survivor/ Ex-patient/ Ex-Inmate/ User Community (Timeline) starting at 10,000 BC
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This is an interactive web site. If you are a consumer or past consumer of MH services in California South Region you may add text you want to appear on some of our web site: First click on the "Participate" button. Sign in or create a user name and pass word. A form will open. Now choose the "Edit Posting" button just underneath the text you want your posting to appear. Click here for tutorial.