Lesson 1: Activism

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Lesson One: Activism

Approximately one hour

 Opener: Introduction (5-10 minutes)

  • Ask students to name groups that have banded together to demand change or that their rights be recognized in the sixties or seventies.
  • List them on the board or overhead.  Possible answers include: environmental groups such as Greenpeace, women’s liberation groups, First Nations, Gays and Lesbians, and various ethnic groups.
  • Explain to students that another group that became active during the time period that dealt with the rights of people in the mental health system.

 Activity 1: “Psych Survivor Activism Video” (15-20 minutes)

  • Inform the learners that they will be watching interviews of activists in the anti-psychiatric movement.  Ask them to identify issues and to find examples of stigma
  • Ask students to infer why and how each person became an activist
  • Show “Psych Survivor Activism- History of Madness” (2010, approximately 15 minutes)

 Discussion: Reaction to the Video (10-15 minutes)

  • After the video ask students:
    • for examples of discrimination and stigma. Record answers on chart paper and keep until final lesson.
    • what made people move beyond seeing their mental health difficulties as more than just a personal story?
    • how is this activism the same and what makes it different from other movements (based on students prior knowledge)?
    • explore Pat Capponi’s statement about the necessity for leaders to go first
    • discuss the snowball effect (exponential growth after momentum begins)
    • what was the point of the ex-patient movement? What goals did these activists have?
  • Discuss the importance and power of language (see Background Information for Teachers), for example the reclaiming of ‘mad,’ the use of words such as ‘incarcerated’.

 Activity 2: Interpreting Cartoons –  Power in Numbers (20 -25 minutes)

 Closing: The Problems Activists Faced (5- 10 minutes)

  • Ask students to identify problems that (ex-)patient activists might have faced.
  • Look for answers that reflect an understanding that the stigma patients faced hampered their efforts.
  • Insightful students will also realize that the lack of an easily identifiable group (as compared to women or ethnic minorities) might also affect group development.

 Reaching All Learners

  • This activity should be accessible to most learners.
  • Some students may benefit from whole class interpretation of the cartoons, allowing teacher direction in inferring from the cartoons.

 Resources for Lesson One, Activism

Activity 1

  1. Psych Survivor Activism- History of Madness

Activity 2

  1. “The Movement” (PR_The_Movement_Cartoon)
  2. Rights 1, graphic, Phoenix Rising, 1983, 3, 4.
  3. Rights 2, graphic,  Phoenix Rising, 1983, 3, 4.
  4. Rights 3, graphic, Phoenix Rising, 1983, 3, 4.)