June 20, 2020
Illustration: Clément de Gaulejac
Illustration carried out in the framework of the campaign “VOC’s it going?”, where people living with mental health diagnoses have testified of their reality during the pandemic.
This text is part of the special issue to mental Health
Since 1983, the rather unknown Combination of alternative resources in mental health in Quebec (RRASMQ) is campaigning for the province carries a vision and another on mental health issues and persons living with a diagnosis. Their campaign ” I have a story “, launched in 2016, sheds light on the human behind the label.
It is the flow of the de-institutionalisation, this process the government initiated in the 1960s that has deprived the great majority of beds in psychiatric hospitals in favour of plans of care based on medication and therapy support, which has led to the creation of the RRASMQ. While the asylums became (almost) obsolete, of the collective citizens were in place to help patients. Today, hundreds of groups, united by a commitment to innovative approach to working with patients through the cells of mutual aid, crisis centres or accommodation, accompanying psychotherapeutic and other workshops.
“What we propose is to accommodate the people outside of the hospital and otherwise than by way of a medical approach,” says Anne-Marie Boucher, communications manager, and the action of socio-political. The innovative approach relies on a human relationship of equality between the patient and the caregiver, basing its approach on the Person with a large P.
“We have before us a full-fledged citizen who retains his power, which happens on a voluntary basis and who has a right to consent at any time,” said Ms. Boucher. Resolutely political, the innovative approach to mental health wants to fairedes patients informed citizens on their social rights and medical attention, but above all, in full possession of their means. “It can sometimes be caricaturés as anti-hospital or anti-medication, because we can be critical of psychiatry, concedes the head. We want the person to have access to a diversity of possible answers and the right information, it can choose freely and clearly between the options that are available to it, ” she says. Emancipation, therefore, is at the centre of the process.
A political reading of the mental health
This primacy of the person on the system has been the engine of the Web platform ” I have a story “, an initiative launched four years ago to collect testimonials from people living with mental health diagnoses. During the crisis of the COVID-19, the site has been the showcase of a microcampagne entitled ” VOC’s it going ? “where testimony is sometimes illustrated by montreal artist Clément de Gaulejac flowed.
Illustration: Clément de Gaulejac
“We wanted to document the situation to demonstrate what were the impacts of the pandemic and of the confinement on the mental health of people “, says Anne-Marie Boucher. So, the idea was to offer a space of expression, in a moment of distress collective, but also to normalize states and concerns of mental health experienced by a plusgrand number.
“It is a question of the reversal of the gaze : we want to propose to people to have a read more policy and mental health, and to consider it not from the standpoint of treatment, but the angle of the right to health,” said Ms. Boucher. This right to health includes several variables : the level of income, the ability to participate fully in society, to have quality housing, coaching, and adequate health care services… In the time of a pandemic and whereas the government of Quebec is preparing an action plan in mental health, those conditions of life that are sometimes difficult are stigmatized by the Grouping, which wants the collective vision, mental health should take account of these variables, “for people to have the basic conditions to participate in society and take care of them,” says Anne-Marie Boucher.
The platform ” 3 yards for a comprehensive approach to mental health “, developed also by the RRASMQ, is what binds all of these demands and stresses once again the importance of a variety of approaches and support for people struggling with mental health issues. “A crisis is a learning opportunity,” says the manager. Thus, the pandemic, which has introduced a good number of Quebecers in situations of poverty, insecurity, and emotional distress, may be allowed to open a collective gaze on certain realities. “I hope that it gives rise to more empathy and solidarity with the people who are excluded, and that we ensure a society in which one lives less precarious for all,” said Ms. Boucher.