What’s happening at the Institute for the Development of Human Arts

Excerpts from the July 31 interim grant report

Thanks to the support of Open Excellence, IDHA is strengthening a growing network of clinicians, peers, survivors, family members, and advocates seeking to transform the mental health system. Halfway through our grant, we are proud to reflect upon, and share, our successes to date.


Over the past seven months, we offered a spring training series called Psychologies of Liberation, which applied a global lens to our work and fostered cross-regional solidarity with more than 240 clinicians, peers, and survivors. We reached an additional 750+ individuals through our community events, from mind body and poetry workshops, to explorations of harm reduction and intergenerational compassion.


IDHA also seeks to shed light on the ways in which systems of oppression intersect with mental health, forging partnerships across movements to fuel intersectional change. In March, we hosted a follow up to last year’s successful Decarcerating Care event, a cross-movement conversation about the intersections of mental health, police violence, and community care. Part two, Challenging Criminalization and Control in Mental Health, invited panelists from a range of movements to explore the ways in which mental health services and “reforms” uphold the ongoing coercion and control of marginalized communities.


As a result of IDHA’s work, thousands of people have access to a growing community that centers the power of transformative mental health. Thanks to Open Excellence, we have been able to invest in critical, accessible infrastructure to make these remote offerings widely available, keeping our community connected and nourished amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Together, we are advancing a rights-based, peer-centered, and holistic model of mental health that shifts dominant narratives toward a paradigm of polyphony, humanity, care, and support.


Challenges & Lessons Learned

Nearly 18 months since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our team continues to see crisis as a portal to breakthrough and opportunity. The move to virtual programming has enabled us to reach hundreds, if not thousands, of people we otherwise would not have been able to reach in New York City, as well as to strengthen cross-border solidarity with activists and providers in other countries. Over the past seven months, we have strengthened our reputation as a leader in offering groundbreaking, engaging, and accessible remote mental health training opportunities, often being contacted by other organizations for
guidance. This would not have been possible without the timely support from Open Excellence.


Meanwhile, the prolonged reckoning with racial inequality in the United States forced necessary conversations about unjust police practices, racial trauma, and inequities in access to care. Given our grounding principles of centering the most marginalized and intersectionality, IDHA remains well positioned to imbue these ongoing conversations with crucial mental health considerations, particularly at the particular intersection of police involvement in mental health crises. We look forward to offering an ongoing perspective on this issue, with plans to continue our Decarcerating Care discussion series with a third installment in September.


Learn more about IDHA events and resources




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