Dear Minister Flanagan,
I am writing in relation to the recent announcement on the day referred to by social model of disability advocates and activists as International Day of Disabled People that the National Platform of Self Advocates “will be closing down [its] operations from January due to an absence of funding or suitable supports for [its] work”. In short Minister Flanagan, I believe that there is no justifiable reason why the required funding cannot be provided directly through the Department of Justice and Equality to the National Platform of Self Advocates.
At the time of writing, it is a fact that it is now over a decade ago since I graduated in 2008 with a Higher Certificate in Arts in Advocacy Studies based on a social model of disability foundation and was awarded a Citizen’s Information Board Medal as the best overall student in the graduating class of that year. It is also a fact that at the end of 2008 I was “discharged from the care of medical model of disability based mental health services” funded by Irish taxpayers, having spent the fifteen previous years of my life under that “care” on the basis of claims made to me by “mental health professionals” that I “was suffering from a lifelong and enduring mental illness”. The fact also is that it is only now in 2019 in Ireland that the opportunity has become available to me to further my studies of social model of disability principles to postgraduate and master’s level as a Disability Studies student of St Angela’s College Sligo – NUI Galway.
Aside from fifteen years of experience in self advocacy as an Irish Mental Health Service system survivor, I also have six years of survival experience of fulltime employment from 2010 to 2016 as a peer advocate by what I believe should be, but which I believe is currently not, a disabled persons organisation being operated according to the principles of the social model of disability.
I put it to you Minister Flanagan that on 3rd December last you received a copy of an email from me containing the following statement:
Dear President Higgins,
On 22nd November 2019, Dr. Terry Lynch, physician, psychotherapist, mental health educator, best-selling mental health author, provider of a recovery-oriented mental health service, and, Member of A Vision for Change Expert Group on Mental Health Policy (2003-6), Member of A Vision for Change Independent Monitoring Group (2006-9), Member of A Vision for Change Second Independent Monitoring Group (2009-12), and Member of HSE Expert Advisory Group On Mental Health (2006-8) stated that:
Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris have IGNORED documents I sent them both – by registered post, 12 months ago now – comprising of a detailed letter from me, personal contributions from over 30 people, and the signatures of over 200 people.
The purpose of this document was to formally inform Messrs Varadkar and Harris that they are currently presiding over a mental health system that is every bit as scandalous as the outrages of the past – e.g. Magdalen Laundries, Tuam babies, clerical sex abuse, etc – which politicians have been publicly stating must never happen again.
Why President Higgins can pharmaceutical manufacturers and their representatives have their voices heard with such apparent ease while the voice of Dr. Lynch and those of Mental Health Service Survivors the length and breadth of the country are being so blatantly ignored? Pharmaceutical companies do not speak for us! Nor do See Change, Green Ribbon’s, Aware, Shine, Mental Health Reform, Mental Health Ireland, The Mental Health Commission, The Mental Health Engagement and Recovery Office, or, Irish Advocacy Network speak for us!
I call on you President Higgins to meet with and speak with Dr. Lynch and with those Mental Health Service Survivors who know only too well the fraud and the abuse that has occurred and is still occurring throughout our nation.
I also put it to you Minister Flanagan that during my six-year career as a peer advocate I witnessed situations where people were detained in the “care” of Mental Health Services funded by the Irish state who were labelled by “Health Professionals” committed to the ideologies of the medical model of disability as “People with Intellectual Disabilities”. J.H., as referred to in the 2007 High Court Judgement  IEHC 7 – 2006 1719 SS – 02/06/2007, H. -v- Russell & ors, I am a witness to the fact was one such person. While almost three years had elapsed after this judgement before my recruitment as a trainee peer advocate, J.H. had been detained by the “mental health services” all of that time. Although I am glad to have played a minor personal role in securing his eventual release, I believe that J.H. should never have had his liberty removed from him by his state as it was for so many years. I echo the words of Dr. Terry Lynch as previously quoted in stating that I believe that the manner in which J.H. was treated was “every bit as scandalous as the outrages of the past – e.g. Magdalen Laundries, Tuam babies, clerical sex abuse, etc – which politicians have been publicly stating must never happen again.”. The kind of situation which J.H. was forced to endure is I believe however, neither unique nor confined to historical Irish contexts.
I reiterate Minister Flanagan that I believe that there is no reason why the Department of Justice and Equality should not directly provide the funding required for the work of the National Platform of Self Advocates to continue. This is a matter of upholding citizen’s rights and not of charity! I urge you to take immediate action to make such funding a reality, and I invite all fellow psychiatric system survivors and their allies who feel at liberty enough to do so, to join me in making this call to you.