Open Excellence Supporting Human Rights Defenders During Pandemic

Demand for MindFreedom’s personalized advocacy “unusually high” during COVID pandemic
MindFreedom International’s more than three decades of work in public education and rights protection has centered on listening and responding to complaints from individuals who report that they are being forced into harmful treatments that are not of their choosing.


Today, hardships and closures related to COVID are challenging MindFreedom’s ability to meet the needs of the people they serve. An estimated 40% to 50% of all incoming calls and emails are from individuals who are being forced to endure psychiatric interventions that ignore their objections and personal choices. This unusually high number of requests for support and direct help are straining MindFreedom’s technology infrastructure.


With the help of a small grant from Open Excellence, MindFreedom will enhance its information technology to meet the unique and increased demands of the personalized advocacy and community mobilization it is spearheading during the pandemic.


“It is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of human rights complaints received at MFI and by the toll of harmful psychiatric interventions on people’s lives,’ said veteran MindFreedom staff Sarah Smith.  “What keeps me going is knowing that our organization’s ranks include some of the earliest pioneers of the psychiatric survivor’s movement, fearless activists whose unfailing vision of human dignity and potential laid the groundwork for our resistance work. This grant from Open Excellence is a reminder that although many of the early pioneers are no longer with us, the fight to end force and coercion in the mental health system is gaining new allies and new hope.”


Small grants with a big impact
In the coming weeks, thanks to the commitment and generosity of our donors, Open Excellence will announce further recipients of several competitive microgrants targeting our five priority areas for 2021: COVID-19 relief to providers of peer or voluntary mental health services; decolonizing, racism and inequality in mental health diagnosis and care; industry influence in mental health; the social determinants of mental health; and advocacy and human rights. Though small, these grants will support critical infrastructure at peer service organizations, document and share innovations in care and support early career and peer researchers. (Grant applications are currently accepted by invitation only.)

“MindFreedom International is a nonprofit organization that unites sponsor and affiliate grassroots groups with thousands of individual members to win human rights and alternatives for people labeled with psychiatric disabilities.

In 1986 the project that would eventually become MindFreedom International began with a start-up grant from the Levinson Foundation. In May 1990 a coalition was formed during a counter-conference and peaceful protest to the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in New York City. This network was named Support Coalition International. In August 2005 Support Coalition International changed its name to MindFreedom International.


‘I believe MindFreedom is doing remarkable work nationally and internationally to promote the protection of human rights in mental health.’

– From a November 2008 statement by World Health Organization mental health department head Benedetto Saraceno, MD


Some of our members have been human rights activists for more than 30 years, and others for only 30 days. All are welcome! We at MindFreedom International are proud of more than three decades of successful activism, advocacy, peaceful protest, public education, mutual support, lobbying, organizing and never ever giving up our dream: Equal opportunity of mental and emotional well being for all.

MindFreedom’s office is located in the historic Growers Market in downtown Eugene, Oregon.”


 *Image: MindFreedom volunteer writing responses to letters from  prisoners


Grants like this one are made possible by the donors of Open Excellence (the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care) like you. Become a monthly sustaining donor today to support the revolution in mental health care.


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