We’re 21 months and counting into this global pandemic. And just when we think we’re getting close to the end, this wicked virus dumps another variant of concern onto our laps, forcing us to pull yet another Greek letter off the shelf so we can name it, talk about it, and fear it.
The pandemic has ripped into the emotional wellbeing of most people. It’s exposed us to vulnerabilities – ours, and those of the people we interact with in our various lives. For almost two years we’ve been riding a roller coaster of hope and despair. As we work to hold our own struggles, many of us find ourselves wondering how others are doing. “Are others as beleaguered as I am?” “Are others having a hard time keeping up with things that used to be easy?” “Are others feeling what I’m feeling, struggling like I’m struggling?”
In wanting to know what others are experiencing, we want to know that our experiences are ‘normal’ and that we’re not alone. So we look for information that will confirm these needs. We watch for bits of information that might help us to know – even sort of know – how we’re doing as a larger collective.
Information is everywhere … all day, every day, we’re pelted with information about anything and everything. But how much of it is ‘reliable’? How much of the content we’re bombarded by is something we can actually use with any confidence? How much of it will tell us something that’s ‘real’ about what we might want or need to know? And how much of that information will tell us how we’re doing. And where our emotional wellbeing is concerned, how much of what is readily available, is actually mis-information? And what happens when the general public’s understanding of ‘good vs poor mental health’ is being fed by a steady diet of facts that have been spun to support professional, political, and corporate agendas?
Information and mis-information are core interests of the Editorial Team at Mad in Canada.
Mad in Canada embodies a collective hope amid despair: amplified suffering abundant, is it possible to foster a space of resistance and resilience? Mental health advocacy is an urgent imperative, and I hope it resonates across nations on Turtle Island. Sworn in as Minister of Mental Health and Addiction on October 26, 2021, will the Honorable Carolyn Bennett advocate for the margins of psychiatric abuse survivors? I hope Mad in Canada fosters a place of reasonable critique to challenge political lobbies that evade self-identified marginalized voices.
We are currently living in a time of widespread ignorance and anti-intellectualism where celebrities are revered as champions and where uninformed opinion is flaunted as fact. What we need is more critical thinking about the way we are thinking. My hope is that Mad in Canada offers the opportunity to create space for this critical thinking and for transparency about where and how money is spent in the mental health sector. Let’s also evaluate the assumption that law is the avenue and remedy for human rights violations. I am really looking forward to more writing from others who are working, writing and engaged in activism of various methods and in spite of so much political passivity around us. I am looking forward to the clever political imagination that will come forward from many of our contributors across the country.
Mad in Canada is an online knowledge mobilization forum for all things ‘mental health’. Using social justice as a primary point of departure, we provide space for questioning the many assumptions that have enabled mis-information and human rights violations to be acceptable. In a system of care that privileges professional, political, and corporate agendas, Mad in Canada is, broadly speaking, about the longstanding need for radical change. For me, Mad in Canada is an ideal platform for accountability. Front and center here are Issues like informed consent to treatment, reliable education about psych drugs, the socially constructed nature of madness, putting an end to coercive practices, and so much more. It’s early days at Mad in Canada, but I’m excited about our future.
My dream is that Mad in Canada becomes a vital resource for those who are critical of the medicalization of emotional suffering. I dream of a world where people are fully informed and not deceived before making choices about the kind of help they need.
So how are we doing? As individuals, and as a global village? You might think that a lot of people are depressed and anxious. You might think that, because of the many hardships brought on by the pandemic, that “mental illness” is on the rise. How you answer these and related questions will likely be, at least partially, dependent on who you talk to, what you read, and what you or someone close to you has been experiencing. And, you might be one of the countless individuals looking for validation and support in the knowledge that others are struggling as well.
Long before the pandemic hijacked the emotional wellbeing of people all over the globe, it’s been our nature to find comfort in the knowledge that we’re not the only ones who are suffering. ‘Misery loves company’ isn’t a new phenomenon. Perhaps what is new – or, at least what has been renewed – is the widespread acknowledgement of emotional suffering that has been enabled by the pandemic. Unfortunately, this acknowledgement has been tainted by mis-information. And mis-information, especially that which has become so deeply embedded in a widely accepted dominant discourse, can be powerful.
For decades, the larger field of mental health care has been pathologizing natural and expected responses to trauma and adversity. The pandemic has been a ripe breeding ground for the medicalization of misery. Mad in Canada is about putting assumptions up to question. We get that those who live with emotional suffering want succor, that they want to feel relief. But we also know you can’t be part of the solution when you insist on being part of the problem. Like all of us at Mad in Canada, we know there are people from all over the country who share our commitment to being part of the solution. We’re looking for blogs on a variety of topics, written from a variety of perspectives. If you or someone you know wants to write a piece for Mad in Canada, our submission guidelines tell you all you need to know. We want to hear from you!