The Day of Action: Why you should act

October 6, 2015 by

Tomorrow is “the day of action”  and it has never been more important you act….

Mental health advocacy has historically been more about mental health providers or professionals or people with some other kind of stake explaining why they can and should speak for the welfare of those people in distress,  those people with mental health issues,  those people who  enter the mental health system looking for help.   Too often they simply assume that their interests and the interests of those they serve are one and the same.

Tomorrow is about your voice,  your story. Many professionals do object to this bill and many will speak tomorrow.   But none come from your place,  from your heart,  from your experience. It is important that you speak.   It is important that you testify to the truth of  your life,  your experience,  your needs.

I asked a friend who was in a very long sit in once why.  Why???  Why did you take the risk?   Why did you speak?

I will never forget what he said:

Someone had to say it.   We are people too and this is wrong.   We are people too and this is wrong…..

The Murphy Bill is wrong.   In the end it hurts those it claims to help.

And it is time the people hurt say it now… Say it loud… Say it often.

Make sure every friend you have knows about tomorrow.   They are needed.   You are needed.   We are all needed.

Please act.   Tell others.

Remember :


Beyond Murphy : Kathy Flaherty

October 6, 2015 by

The fight to improve our mental health system, both in my state (Connecticut) and nationally, is a battle that I am prepared to wage not only professionally, but personally.  I am a person living in recovery from a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I was civilly committed my first year of law school. I admitted myself to hospitals several times. My education comes not only from books, but from my lived experience.  I know what it is like to be hospitalized against my will; to be forcibly medicated; to be secluded.  I experienced side effects of medication like lethargy and weight gain. I know what it is like to be judged for my mental health history and found lacking; my admission to the Connecticut bar was delayed for a year and a half, and was conditional on both me and my doctor reporting to the Statewide Grievance Counsel that I remained compliant with my treatment.
I also know what it is like to recover. It took me more than a decade to find my path to wellness and to arrive in a place in which I am truly happy.  During many of these years, I was able to achieve traditional markers of “success”:  I graduated from law school, was admitted to the bar, found a job, met and married a wonderful man.  I became involved in mental health advocacy; I was an instructor and facilitator of peer support groups and educational programs.
I have been open about my mental health diagnosis since my first year of law school, when I put my membership on the Council of Former Patients of McLean Hospital on my resume.  The folks at the Office of Public Interest Advising suggested that I should reconsider including that information, but I have never seen my illness as something to be ashamed of or something that I need to hide.  In fact, my disclosure resulted in my finding a summer internship at an organization, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, representing the rights of people diagnosed with mental health conditions – an organization of which I am now proud to be the Executive Director.
I wrote a guest editorial, disclosing my condition, for the Harvard Law School newspaper my third year of law school after seeing comments made by some of my fellow students in response to another student who was going through a mental health crisis. Some people called me brave for doing so; to me, it simply seemed the right thing to do.
Recovery is real.  There are some proponents of the Murphy legislation that will say that the bill is only supposed to apply to people with “seriously mentally ill” and not people like me who “only” need and want “feel-good” services.  That discounts the “seriousness” of my mental health condition.  I acknowledge that I am among the “mentally well” today, but if you want to talk serious, talk to my family who saw the car I crashed into a light pole on the highway or the friends who visited me in the hospital after suicide attempts with pills.
Some may say the difference is that I “recognized” I needed help and accepted it when it was offered. That is an over-simplification of what it took for me to recover.  The proposed bill measures successful outcomes by showing up at appointments and compliance with prescribed medication.  I can tell you from personal experience, one can show up at medical appointments and take all of one’s medications – but not experience recovery.  Following orders is not recovery; recovery means active participation in one’s community. Recovery means taking charge of one’s life.  I have been incredibly fortunate to have never needed to worry about meeting my most basic needs – housing, food, income to pay the bills.  If I lacked the resources to meet those needs, I would not have had the energy to invest in my recovery.
People need access to the supports and services that they need for their recovery.  They need access to advocacy representing their interests so that they can meet their goals. 
Representative Murphy’s bill is called the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015” and that title essentially sums up the problems I have with this bill.  This bill is all about helping families; it is not necessarily about helping the person who actually has the mental health diagnosis. This bill is about imposing solutions on people against their will, rather than finding out from them what their goals are, and what kind of assistance they need to meet them. Undermining existing privacy protections under HIPAA and FERPA is not necessary when mechanisms already exist for people to get information – either by consent, as expressed in an advance directive, or permitted by a court under a conservatorship order. 
PAIMI programs protect and advocate for individuals living with mental illness.  Their mission is not solely to investigate cases of abuse and neglect, but also to identify and remove systemic barriers that prevent citizens with psychiatric disabilities from exercising their rights.  Legal advocates representing their clients do so under a professional code of conduct that requires them to be zealous advocates for their clients’ objectives – not the interests of other parties, such as family members.   It is not a lawyer’s job to act in their client’s best interests; the lawyer’s job is to outline for the client the elements of informed choice about decision-making, including the consequences of taking or not taking a particular action, and then be guided by what the client says.  It is not the lawyer’s job to be a substitute decision-maker for the client; it is to listen to the client, and abide by the client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation.  To do this is not always easy; many of us might not make the same choices as our clients do in any given situation. However, the role of the lawyer is to outline the consequences of the choices, not to make the decisions.
Many of us who have been engaged in mental health advocacy for a number of years are frustrated by the continual re-visiting of ideas that have already been found not to work. Re-establishment of inpatient hospital beds when the community mental health system does not have the resources it needs is a misplaced use of resources.  We cannot return to the days when people spent long periods of time institutionalized against their will; people already are spending too much time in hospitals because the system does not have capacity to move them into the most integrated community setting. We need to find ways of engaging people to make a connection in which they feel that their voice is being listened to and respected. People need to be supported in their journeys towards healing.  For many of us, it is through learning from peers how they maintained their recovery that has become a critical piece.
You will often hear the phrase “Nothing about us without us.”  We know best what our life experience has been – what has worked, and more importantly, what doesn’t work.  Doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result – haven’t I heard that as one definition of insanity?  We can, and must, do better.

Beyond Murphy : Darby Penney

October 6, 2015 by

The Promise of Trauma-Informed Approaches
By Darby Penney
These are dangerous and trying times for those who believe that the human rights of people involved with the mental health system must be promoted and protected. The Murphy Bill – “The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” (H.R. 2646)- and its only slightly less frightening companion bill in the Senate- would undermine what little progress has been made toward rights protection in recent years. It would perpetuate and expand current rights violations like Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (disingenuously referred to as “Assisted Outpatient Treatment”), and would return the nation’s state mental health systems to the failed policy of mass institutionalization.
These possibilities frighten me. For more than 25 years, I’ve worked in a range of positions in the system – as a state mental health official, a historian and writer, and a researcher and trainer – and, in my free time, as an activist in the human rights movement for people with psychiatric histories. Over that time, I’ve seen coercion and cooptation increase. I’ve seen people’s rights trampled in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I’ve seen years of work that resulted in tiny improvements wiped out in the blink of an eye. I’ve often been discouraged and I’ve often felt like my years of work have been largely in vain.
But recently, one development has kept hope alive for me: the slow but growing realization within the field that the vast majority of people with psychiatric diagnoses are trauma survivors, and the recognition that many of the system’s common practices traumatize and re-traumatize the people the system is supposed to serve. While the research has been clear on this for at least the last 30 years, this new awareness has led to conversations across the country about the need for trauma-informed approaches within the mental health system, and a broadening of the field’s awareness of how widespread these problems are.
This emergent awareness of trauma and these conversations about change are just the first small steps toward a needed overhaul of a system that has historically valued control over compassion, authority over understanding, and the convenience of providers over the human needs of people. The scope of the issue is enormous and the magnitude of the changes needed to create a truly trauma-informed system is staggering.
To begin this process, people who run the system- policymakers, administrators, managers, researchers, direct service staff – and people who use services (voluntarily or not) need to be educated about the extent to which trauma is at the root of most psychiatric diagnoses. People with diagnoses have the right to this information to help them make sense of their own struggles, and people who administer and deliver services need this information in order to understand that the people they have seen as “diseased” are in fact people who have been deeply hurt by violence in many forms. It starts, as Sandra Bloom, founder of the Sanctuary program points out, by asking about what happened to people, rather than what is “wrong” with people.
This basic awareness needs to be followed by a commitment to explore the values and principles of trauma-informed approaches; to take inventory of the many ways in which the current service system does not comport with these values; and to a commitment to the hard work of ridding the system of all practices that routinely re-traumatize people. This means an end to coercion in all its forms: restraint, seclusion, inpatient and outpatient commitment, forced drugging, forced shock, and requiring adherence to treatment in order to get housing and other generic services. This is a long, complicated undertaking that will unsettle many powerful interests, but it is necessary to achieve the goal of a trauma-informed system.
Those of us with trauma histories who have been through the mental health system can help move this agenda forward by learning about and practicing trauma-informed peer support. In 2012, my colleagues Andrea Blanch, Cathy Cave, Beth Filson and I developed a guidebook with the goal of providing people with the understanding, tools, and resources needed to engage in culturally responsive, trauma-informed peer support relationships with trauma survivors. The guide is called Engaging Women in Trauma-Informed Peer Support: A Guidebook, but most of the information, aside from a gender-specific chapter, is applicable to all people. It can be downloaded from

Darby Penney is a long-time activist in the human rights movement for people with psychiatric histories. She is the author, with Peter Stastny, of The Lives the Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic.

An Introduction to “Beyond Murphy”

October 6, 2015 by

About a month ago I talked about a feature on this blog I called “Beyond Murphy”.   That post is reprinted below.

Several people,  several gifted people,  responded and that feature starts today  with Darby Penney and Kathy Flaherty.   Both are leaders and have been for a long time.

They begin to point a way I hope “beyond Murphy……”

The Murphy Bill whether it passes or not will not be the final verdict on the mental health system.   That is on us.

In about 10  days I hope to run a series of posts entitled “Beyond Murphy: Towards a better place… ”    Some of the possible topics that might fall into it are:  the Murphy Bill,  the costs of the medical model, limits of diagnosis,  effective advocacy, building a consensus for change, the reality of recovery, is an honest mental health system possible,  is mental health about more than one thing, human rights and mental health, hope,  the ethics of treatment,  and the ethics of advocacy.   There are many other topics that might fall into this general rubric.

I am looking for I hope 10-14 people who might be interested in doing a guest blog on Hopeworks Community to cover this topic.   My hope would be to have a series of posts that would all be posted over a 2-3 day period…. In effect a forum on the possibility of real change.   I have already asked some people but am very open to anyone who is interested.  

Please let me hear from you and I will give you more details.   I do not believe the door is shut.   The future can still be shaped.   There are many difficulties,  many problems.   Murphy is neither sentence or destiny.   Please help to start a new conversation.

Again I hope to hear from you.   Please share with others.

A short course on action: part two

October 5, 2015 by

The initial post in this series talked about how to talk to legislators.   This post talks about some of the possible points you might consider making.

The following questions or comments are certainly not the only points to make about the Murphy Bill but at least offer a place to start….


1. What do you see wrong with coercion? Will it make people who need help try to avoid getting help for fear of getting involved in a coercive system? How coercive has your experience been in the mental health system and how has it affected you?
2. How has AOT affected you, your family, your friends?
3. Does your state have AOT and how has it affected the mental health system? How expensive is it? How often is it used? Has it decreased people in jails, homelessness or violent behavior?
4. Should the federal government try to make states without AOT adopt it?
5. AOT in New York, the state where it costs $32000000 a year and is probably more prevalent than any other state serves 1/3 of 1% of the people served by the mental health system there. At its best is AOT anything more than a marginal answer to much bigger problems.


1. The Murphy Bill would like to make it easier to keep people in psychiatric hospitals longer. How do you feel about that?
2 Do psychiatric hospitals work? What is your experience with them? Did they help? Did they hurt?
3. Psychiatric hospitalization is the most expensive form of treatment. How do you feel about funds being taken from community services to fund hospitals?
4. Do you really believe more psychiatric hospitals will keep people out of jail or from being homeless?
5. The Murphy Bill talks a lot about evidence based practices. Is hospitalization an evidence based practice?
6. Can people with serious mental health issues be helped anywhere else other than a hospital? How much does a hospital help?
7. Some people believe people should be kept in hospitals for their own good. Does anyone just need to be locked away?

PAIMI is the federal protection and advocacy program designed to protect the rights of the “mentally ill.” The Murphy Bill seeks to curtail this.

1. Should it be against the law to protect someone’s rights? Ever??
2. Do rights get in the way of effective treatment?
3. How much should a system be trusted that does not protect the most vulnerable?
4. Have you had a personal experience with PAIMI? How did it work out?


1. Should you have a right to confidentiality even if your family disagrees with your decisions?
2. Has conflict with your family ever been part of your issues? Have they ever been a source of trauma for you? Is your privacy one way to protect yourself?
3. Do you believe the existing laws with the exceptions written in works okay. Is the law broken or do we just need to follow it?


1. Although trauma is progressively being recognized as a central element in the development of mental health issues the Murphy Bill does not mention it . Do you believe this bill should more adequately reflect current scientific knowledge?


1. The Murphy Bill does not talk about or believe in the importance of stigma in the lives of those with psychiatric diagnoses. In fact many people believe this bill will increase stigma. What role has stigma played in your life? If passed do you believe that you will be further stigmatized?


1. This bill makes psychiatric opinion the final authority in many things. Given the increasing evidence of problems associated with psychiatric medications should people have the right to say no to psychiatrists?


1. This bill would effectively eliminate Samhsa. This agency has been a big part of developing the concept of recovery as well as supporting peer support? How do you feel about this agency being eliminated?

There is much more to the Murphy Bill than addressed above. The intent of these questions is to help you articulate more clearly how you think the Murphy Bill will affect you.

Please think about it and let your legislator hear from you on Wednesday. It is time for all of us to take action.

Believe it or not 7 years

October 4, 2015 by

Today believe it or not today is the 7th anniversary of the start of Hopeworks Community… Over 4000 posts later….

No fancy words… Thanks for your time.

Many, many thanks….

A short course in action

October 4, 2015 by

The Day of Action for the Murphy Bill is Wednesday October 7.  I am most certainly not an expert but here are some hints that I have found helpful in the advocacy work I have done.

1.  Make sure you ask your representative to do something.   Don’t just say you are against the bill.   Ask for something.   Ask them to not sponsor,  to vote no in committee,  to oppose on the floor etc.   Ask for something you want from him or her.

2.  Tell them who you are.   Mention you are a constituent.   If you vote say so.

3.  Tell them why you are against the bill.   If possible phrase it in terms of how it affects you, your family,  your community.   Make it as personal a comment as possible.

4.  One possible objection is that it won’t work or may even make things worse.   No Congressman wants to be tagged as supporting something ineffective or counterproductive.   How will it affect the mental health system in your state?  What problems will it make worse? How does it affect costs? Other services?

5.  Another objection is the moral one.   Make your objection clear and concise.   If possible phrase it in values that resonate with the legislator.   Know where they are coming from.

6.  If you tweet make only one point.   If you have more to say make another tweet.

7.  Make email concise.   A couple of paragraphs tops.   Don’t sound hysterical but do sound concerned.   Again make sure he knows what you expect from him.   If you don’t ask they won’t take you serious.

8.  If you phone you will speak to staff.   Ask to speak to health staff if possible.   Again be coherent and to the point.   Who you are… Why the bill is important to you.. What you want…

9.   Act.   They count the totals of how many contact them.   Quantity makes a difference.

10.  Ask at least 3 other people to make a contact.   Ask each of them to ask 3 others and each of the others to ask 3 and so on.  Numbers mount quickly.

11.  Your voice makes a difference.. but only if you use it.

Again just a few suggestions.   Hope they help….

On Coercion

October 4, 2015 by


From the archives

Originally posted on Hopeworks Community:

To the degree the mental health system is based on the coercive delivery of services it is based on a model that all too often does more harm than good.  Coercion doesnt work.  Mental health treatment doesnt have to be coercive but when it is, not only does it not work, it makes things worse.  The process of coercion almost necessarily involves traumatizing the person you coerce.  It makes the process of  “being helped” so aversive and demeaning that not only do people avoid “getting help,” but even the  notion sometimes  that they need help.  Many people I have known find the system as difficult to deal with as the issues they face.

Coercion comes in degrees.  It varies from the overwhelming experience of committal to more subtle aspects of how you might be talked to or someone might interact with you.  It is, I am convinced, the experience that makes many people with serious…

View original 473 more words

On the myth of a benign system

October 3, 2015 by


From the archives

Originally posted on Hopeworks Community:

At the core of any proposal for an increase or reliance on coercive interventions in the mental health system is a substantial faith in the myth of a basically benign system. You must believe that the system knows what to do, has the ability to do it and, and above all else, will not hurt or do damage to the people it claims to help. The basic claim of the Murphy Bill is that the coercive system it proposes is basically benign and in the best interests of those in need. It seems a hard sell to me.

For the last week I have watched the coverage of Baltimore and wonder how many people still believe that a system based on the increased encounter of people in crisis with the police is either safe or wise.

The police are too often, for too many people dangerous and life threatening. They…

View original 556 more words

The Political Opportunism of Representative Timothy Murphy

October 3, 2015 by

Representative Murphy has risen to new heights of new lows. His response to the tragedy in Oregon (printed below)is that it is a shame that his bill has still not made it out of committee after almost 2 years because so many people just don’t care about the “mentally ill”. This tragedy is just more evidence they don’t care and of the horrible results of that lack of care.

“We have a federal mental health system more interested in protecting people’s rights to be sick than their rights to be well,” said Murphy to CNN following yesterday’s tragedy in Roseburg, Oregon when a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College killing at least nine people and wounding several others. “We have a criminal justice system more interested in putting people in prison than giving them hospital beds. We don’t have enough providers or places for care. We spend and waste billions on absurd programs like making collages and buying paints and having websites with the sing along songs and refusing to even acknowledge that schizophrenia and bipolar illness exists.”

The shooting came on the same day 23 organizations in the mental health and substance abuse community sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) urging the committee to undertake and markup meaningful mental health reform legislation. H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, currently boasts 128 cosponsors and endorsements from newspaper editorsphysicians, and parents of children with mental illness.” 

Part of the problem with the representative is that he has never shown much recognition that not agreeing and not caring are not the same thing. Neither does he seem to understand that telling people who disagree with him that the real problem with them is that really don’t care is unlikely to be found very persuasive or make much better.

I don’t see why it is such a hard thing to realize.

But given it still seems a mystery perhaps it is.

On a diagnostic and statistical manual for gun owners and the perverse obsession with self glorification

October 2, 2015 by

We need a DSM for gun owners.   It is looking through the strange and often bizarre forms gun ownership takes in this country that the real clues to the tragedy in Oregon and other places can be found.

There are those, for example, who find in guns and what guns say about them and their place and role in life the source of a bizarre obsession with self glorification.

We are a culture obsessed with self glorification. It is hard not to listen to any public discourse of any kind, about any subject all the way from politics to sports to entertainment… to anything…. and not be impressed with how much of it is about, not just proclaiming your glory but flaunting it at the loudest possible volume to the most possible people.

Shooters are people possessed with the obsession to prove their glory. Most of the time they seem to be fans of other shooters and to be heavily emotionally invested in the narrative. Where most people see shame they see bravery and most of all a chance to have the impact they think they deserve. That impact, that legacy is so important, so compelling they are willing to die for it. Their crimes are not crimes of impulse but of planning and production. In a very real sense it is not just atrocity they seek but atrocity with maximum production values.

Mass shootings are crimes of identity. They are more about who the shooter is than the victim. They are crimes of destiny. They are crimes of mission.

They are crimes of people who see themselves as both victims of some sort of transgression and the messenger of redemption. The shooting is their way to matter. It is fame and importance. It is setting the world right and the assurance that people will finally know who they are.

We live in a gun crazed culture and for many people guns are more than guns. They are more than tools. They are a powerful sense of an identity that means they matter, have impact and can leave a legacy for others to try to match.

We don’t often realize the importance of identity. More behavior is an expression of identity than most other factors.

All of us want to find a narrative, a story that makes us matter. A narrative based on guns and shooting and killing is not an expression of anyone’s rights but a prescription for tragedies like Oregon that have become way too much everyday news.

Maybe Oregon Shooting and Others Aren’t About Mental Illness

October 2, 2015 by

Violence and guns: Guns as a problem solving tool

October 1, 2015 by


A second one an Oregon night

Originally posted on Hopeworks Community:

The answer to the question about gun violence has little to do with mental illness.  It has to do with one simple question:  To what extent and under what conditions do you see guns as a legitimate and justified way to address an issue, conflict or situation. To the extent you do, particularly to the extent you feel like you have little if any other effective options, you will tend to be likely to use a gun. If you feel like guns work you will tend to use them unless another factor interferes with that decision. And the sad truth is that too many people think, in some fashion however stretched and distorted, that guns work.

To assume that gun violence is a result of some disease somebody might have and ignore the cultural, social, and historical context in which we all live and which influences everything we say, do, and…

View original 572 more words

The meaning of guns

October 1, 2015 by


On an Oregon night

Originally posted on Hopeworks Community:

The article above is as good as anything I have ever read on the subject of America’s love affair with guns. If you haven’t read it I hope you will.

We have an inexhaustible ability to tolerate the murder, maiming and destruction of our fellow citizens as a result of guns and still hold true to the mythology it has nothing to do with guns. We like to confidently assert if we would just do something about the mentally ill it wouldn’t be the problem it is.

We pontificate on and on about the failure of the mental health system to stop us from shooting each other as if it ever could or was ever supposed to. We romanticize
guns and the ethics of being tough and being strong and being free and not taking nothing from nobody. And when we hear about tragedies we know if we were…

View original 374 more words

Above all else say No to bullies

October 1, 2015 by

Have you ever realize how much is about bullies?

We all know the stories about children being bullied by other children and the horrifying consequences of that.   That exists on a special level of horror and nothing I am going to talk about even begins to go there.

We tend to look at bullying as at  least a little exceptional,  something easy to identify,  and something most people would never take part in. I question that.

  Have you ever considered how much in recent years bullying has become woven into the fabric of our daily lives and how much it affects the way we identify ourselves,  how we identify others and what we should expect from others.

Look at the broadest level: politics.   How much of the Republican presidential campaign is not,  as some have said, about who will be chosen class clown as much as who will be chosen class bully.   How much of the Republican campaign is appealing to the rage of some people and telling them not to worry :  “I will make sure that more bad things happen to bad people than my competitors.   I will put those people in their place,  teach them a lesson and make sure they can no longer cause trouble anymore.”   How much of the Republican campaign is a group of angry, blustering people appealing to every point of hatred in the people whose vote they seek and promising “not to take no shit from no one…..”? How much of the Republican campaign is a  promise to go to war on the poor,  on the disadvantaged,  on the different?

In Tennessee we have Sen.  Ron Ramsey.   He has told everyone to sit down,  shut up,  and not talk back.   The insurance expansion that 280,000 people are waiting on will not happen.   He has decided to wait for a Republican president  and a better deal. (No he does not know how crazy that sounds.) He is the ultimate big kid in a class of little kids (at least he thinks so).

How many bullies do you see in ordinary social interaction?   How many people do you know who judge their size based on how little they can make other feel?   How many people try to control by threatening others with what they might say or do? How many feel personal attack or assault is legitimate conversation?  How many people patrol the righteousness and true belief of others?

Mental health advocacy is overrun with bullies on all sides of the question.   People have found out if you say the wrong thing in the wrong way the people on your side are far more dangerous than those you are against.   Many people defend their positions with a vengeance and fervor that would impress the most fired up religious fanatic.

A personal example.   The incident is not that important but the process illustrates some of what I  am trying to say.

I was contacted by a person who did not approve of some things I had said in a blog post.   She told I was a victim of Nami cult programming (if you google it I don’t think it is there).   I asked her how she knew and she told me since she had “been in the mix” for a while she could see some “hints”  in some things I had written.   On more than one occasion in the past I had seen her tear into people who had violated her sense of orthodoxy and true belief.   I told her she was full of nonsense and left the conversation.

It really wasn’t until the next day that I really started to get angry.   I had been “psychiatrically” diagnosed with Nami cult programming disorder by someone who had “Some hints….”,   who did not know me in any real way,  and had never talked to me.   I wondered if a psychiatrist could do any better and I  didn’t think so.

Serious though… We accept bullying,  name calling and intimidation as acceptable business as usual too often and rarely say anything.  I am guilty.   I have seen it happen to others and never said a thing.   Bullies love silence and always take it as permission and go on.  

Have you ever listened to someone mercilessly slam someone and wondered why no one spoke up and then wonder later why you didn’t either.   I have.   Have you ever listened to someone peddle hatred and prejudice  as sacred fact and just set there and smiled.   I have.

I can do better.   I don’t know whether self righteousness and posturing is inevitable.   Perhaps it is.   Someone once told me “I am not sure why but the Lord did make mean people.”    But silence need not be inevitable and as for me I can do better.   And I will.

It is far more than about personal feelings though.   The cannibalism of mental health advocacy makes real and needed change more difficult.   No one will listen to someone say we should be treated better than we treat each other.   No one will worry about the names we are called or the labels we wear when we exult in the labels we put on each other. No one.

There are a lot of really good people out there.   Some of the best ones I know think I am wrong about major things.  Regardless of position, regardless of what side of what fence you sit on  it is time for the good people to speak out. We  can and should do better. 

And above all else say no to bullies.

A special note… A good part of this post was inspired by a post I read from my friend Michael Skinner about bullying.   He said some of the same things I said but perhaps said it better.  Thank you Michael.


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