Mental health and survivors' movements and context

A history organised by the Survivor/User History Group in association with the Mental Health History Timeline

The Survivors History Group was founded in January 2005 to value and celebrate the contribution that mental health service users/survivors have made and are making to history. It is working towards a comprehensive history on this site. It will also preserve historical material in digital form, on this site, for easy access, and in printed and other forms.

Date index Alphabetical index Home
1845   1873   1894   1900   1908   1913   1916   1946   1947   1958   1960   1969   1971   1972   1973   1974   1975   1976   1977   1978   1979   1980   1981   1982   1983   1984   1985   1986   1987   1988   1989   1990   1991   1992   1993   1994   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006   2007

Survivor Timeline

Several items in this timeline (chronology) link to fuller items further down the page or on other pages. Use it as one index to the page. There is another index in the margin.


Alleged Lunatics Friend Society


Lunacy Law Reform Association


Charlotte Mew The sisters' kiss - both sublime and ghastly - A page of the gospel which the priest never read.


America A Mind that Found Itself

1913 Charlotte Mew had written Ken, but it could not be published because magazine editors "believed in the segregation of the feeble-minded"

1916 Charlotte Mew On the Asylum Road published

1946 The Association of Parents of Backward Children formed

1947 British textbook still says "In my opinion it would be an economical and humane procedure were their existence to be painlessly terminated"

1958 Only hands and feet of patients allowed to be shown on first British television programme about mental illness.

1960s Breakdown in the taboo of silence - people with conditions usually regarded as taboo talking about their own experiences

February 1968: Start of the democratic "anti-university". The mental health meetings, in which R.D. Laing and David Cooper were active, were called "anti-psychiatry". After the collapse of the anti-university (by 1969) the anti-psychiatry group continued to meet in a flat in Belsize Park. The term anti-psychiatry has also been used generally for the movement critical of the orthodox psychiatry of the 1960s. (See Mental Health and Civil Liberties Article) In this very lose sense, COPE and even the Mental Patients Union have been described as part of the anti- psychiatry movement. However, some MPU members would warmly reject the title on the grounds that MPU groups were open to all patients and ex- patients, irrespective of their views on psychiatry and psychiatric treatment. The use of the term in the sense of holding society and psychiatry responsible for what is called mental illness was developed by PROMPT - which was not, initially, a patients' organisation.

1969 People Not Psychiatry

Tuesday 27.9.1971 Politics of Psychology Conference. London School of Economics

10.12.1971 "Staff and patients at the Paddington Clinic and Day Hospital have formed a protest group"

1972 SUMP (Scottish Union of Mental Patients).
Tommy Ritchie's records

Friday 3.3.1972 Paddington Day Hospital Meeting

12.3.1972 Politics of Psychology News Letter Number 3.

4.8.1972 PROP (Preservation of the Rights of Prisoners) called the first national prison strike [The Prison Strikes were called by the dates being given in reply to questions in television and radio interviews. It took the Home Office a long time to realise the simplicity of this - They were looking for a complex communication organisation. In the formation of the Mental Patients Union, Radio Four's Today Programme played an important role.]

America Madness Network News first published


Mental Patients' Union MPU

COPE: Community Organisation for Psychiatric Emergencies

Mind Out Quarterly MIND magazine started with Denise Wynne as editor


Joseph Deacon's Tongue Tied published. It had been written, a few lines a day, over a long period of time.

October 1974 Mind Out "Consumer issue". This re-produced the MPU drug side effects list, but without the introduction explaining that the effects listed were possible (not necessary) effects. Ruptions in MIND.

1974? 1974, Franco Basaglia founded "Psichiatria Democratica"?


A meeting in Brussels in January 1975 launched The International Network Of Alternatives To Psychiatry (Resseau Alternatif A La Psychiatrie). - See 1982

October 1975 A Directory of the Side Effects of Psychiatric Drugs


PROMPT: Protection of the Rights of Mental Patients in Therapy - Became CAPO (Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression) in March 1985.


External link to Chronology of Disability Arts: 1977 - March 2003 by Allan Sutherland, director, The Edward Lear Foundation

1978 On Our Own. Patient-Controlled Alternatives to the Mental Health System by Judi Chamberlin. Judi visited London, Holland and Iceland in 1982

Lawletter Quarterly magazine published by John Bagge, then at - - Fawcett Estate, Clapton Common, London E5 9AX, from 1979 to 1983 (17 issues).

Thursday 26.6.1980: Matthew O'Hara found dead in an "MPU" house - house closed
Matthew O'Hara Committee: for Civil Liberties and Community Care

1981 Hackney Mental Patients' Association

11.4.1981 Third meeting of "State Brutality Group" changes its name to Inquest (United Campaigns for Justice) The members of the group at this time were groups respecting Blair Peach, Mathew O'Hara, Jimmy Kelly and Richard Campbell. - [External link to Inquest website]

Madness Network News Vol.6 No.2 Winter 1981 Page one: The European Movement from an ex-inmate perspective, by Swan, an American activist travelling in Europe.

Madness Network News Vol.6 No.3 Summer 1981 Starting page 12: European Convention on Human Rights and An Evening with Frits Winterwerp, by Swan.

Madness Network News Vol.6 No.4 Winter 1981-1982 Page 8: NAPA Pickets Shock Shop, Berkeley, California, by Anne Boldt and Disabled Hold Law Conference, Toronto, Canada, by Judi Chamberlin. Starting page 10: The European Movement, by Swan includes PROMPT, Inquest, Matthew O'Hara Committee and Hackney Mental Patients' Association Page 16: "Democratic" Psychiatry in Italy by Swan

October 1981 David Brandon Voices of Experience. Consumer Perspectives of Psychiatric Treatment. North West MIND, Miller House, Miller Arcade, Preston, Lancashire. 36 page pamphlet. Thurstine Bassett's collection

Early 1980s: Frank Bangay (born Wandsworth 1951), a poet, became active in PROMPT alongside Julian Barnett and Eric Irwin. [External link: The Importance of Being Frank


Peter Sedgwick's Psychopolitics

We Can Speak for Ourselves. Self-Advocacy by Mentally Handicapped People, by Paul Williams and Bonnie Shoultz.

A Mad People's History of Madness compiled by Dale Peterson.

16.1.1982: A report of a PROMPT meeting

May 1982 A meeting in Brussels of the The International Network Of Alternatives To Psychiatry (Resseau Alternatif A La Psychiatrie) which led to the formation of the The British Network of Alternatives to Psychiatry (external link)

July-August 1982 Judi Chamberlin visited London (staying with MPU members), before travelling to Holland to meet Dutch activists. She was following in the footsteps of her friend Ann Boldt (Swan), who had frequently reported on the United Kingdom and European movement in Madness Network News. Judi then went on to Iceland. She returned to the United Kingdom in 1985 as a speaker at the World Congress of Mental Health

1983 The Phoenix Patients' Collective

September 1983 - November 1985 Mental Distress in Old Age (Hackney)

1983 Coventry Crisis Intervention Team set up

Summer 1984 Hackney Mental Health Action Group formed

March 1965 PROMPT changed its name to CAPO

July 1985 World Congress of Mental Health in Brighton.
Speaking from Experience

28-29.11.1985 MIND Annual Conference From Patients to People

1986 Asylum - A Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry

Heart 'n Soul was founded in 1986 and based at the Albany Theatre in Deptford. It consisted of a small band and 12 performers. All people with learning difficulties.

Saturday 17.5.1986 HMHAG (Hackney Mental Health Action Group) public meeting: Psychiatric Treatment: Are Drugs Really Necessary? Homerton Library.

See Cresswell, M. 2004 for some of the following

1986 - formal constitution of Survivors Speak Out

Breakdown MIND distributed tape of a radio programme. Produced by Peter Simmons and Mark Halliley. Capital Radio PLC. 1986. Cover illustration: Phill Ellinston. Thurstine Bassett's collection.

1986 What They Teach In Song - Poetry About Psychiatric Experience - The first? CAPO collection.


Althea and David Brandon Consumers as Colleagues MIND. 34 page pamphlet. Thurstine Bassett's collection 1988

MIND Consumers Network [Newsletter: Mindwaves

26.9.1988-29.9.1988 International Conference on User Involvement in Mental Health Services

Bristol Crisis Service for Women BCSW starts to run a national telephone help-line for women.

1988 Mind the Gap Theatre Company inclusive theatre group for actors with and without a learning disability

1988 First United Kingdom Hearing Voices group established in Manchester - See Hearing Voices Network website

5.9.1989 Looking at self-harm: the first national conference on self-harm to be held in the UK, "entirely organised by the recipient movement"


Rhythm of Struggle - Song of Hope

1991 Survivor's Poetry - See also Poetry index


From Dark to Night, an anthology edited by Frank Bangay, Hilary Porter and Joe Bidder, was the first? publication of the Survivors Press.


IT! Poems by Paulette NG copyright 1993. A tape in Thurstine Basset's collection. Paulette NG was a member of Survivors Poetry

1994 Self-Harm: Perspectives from Personal Experience edited by Louise Roxanne Pembroke

Wolf Howls [poems] by Paulette NG. copyright 1994. A tape in Thurstine Basset's collection.

March 1995 Louise Roxanne Pembroke called for the setting-up of a National Self-Harm Network in order to campaign more effectively for 'rights for self-harmers'. The network was established shortly afterwards with Pembroke the first Chair. (Cresswell, M.)

April 1995 Under the Asylum Tree


User Focused Monitoring


LUNA: an arts-based mental health project established in Dundee. See the film Recovering Lives: Mental health, gardening and the arts: A film by LUNA and Hester Parr (Dundee University)

The Capital Project Trust (contact details) was set up in 1997 as a training project for people in West Sussex who use mental health services. In August 2005 it had just under 100 members, many of whom work as volunteers delivering service user focused training or are involved in consultancy and research. Claire Ockwell, one of its founders, is an active member of the Service Users History Group.


Hurt Youself Less Workbook published by the National Self-Harm Network. This was the first self-management workbook written by survivors for survivors.

September/October 1998 Survivor's Poetry Newsletter Number One: (download as pdf)

During 1999, Louis Pembroke organised the first to risk reduction conferences for survivors. One of the outcomes of these was the publication of Cutting the Risk [NSHN 1999], the first and only book on practical harm-minimisation for self-harm.

20.6.1999 Mad Pride "first ever gig" - (archive)

1999 Collected Frank Bangay poems: Naked Songs and Rhythms of Hope

2001 Service User Research Enterprise (SURE) launched. - website -

around Autumn 2003 Life and Living radio started


Together's Service-user involvement Directorate (website) was set up in 2004 "to strengthen the voice of those who use our services and to support service-user involvement nationally". Anne Beales, the Director of Service-user Involvement, is an active member of the Service Users History Group.

November 2004 Thurstine Bassett and Peter Lindley organised a general meeting about service user history at the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. Anne Beales, who attended the meeting, suggested Together as a base for a possible group. The group first met in January 2005

2005 Beyond the water towers: the unfinished revolution in mental health services 1985-2005 edited by Andy Bell and Peter Lindley and published by Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. (external link to website) . This includes (chapter six) "From Little Acorns - The mental health service user movement" by Peter Campbell

Contesting Psychiatry: Social Movements in Mental Health by Nick Crossley. London: Routledge "Building on his extensive research, the author explores the key social movements and organisations who have contested psychiatry and mental health in the UK between 1950 and 2000"

January 2005 History of Mental Health Service User/Survivor Movement Group first met

Spring/Summer 2005 Survivors' Poetry website set up

Winter 2005/2006 Poetry Exresss - The Survivors' Poetry Quarterly issue 23: (download as pdf) - Other issues can also be downloaded from the Survivors' Poetry website

8.3.2006 "Our Future Conference" in Birmingham.

Wednesday 16.3.2006 and Thursday 17.3.2006 MIND's 60th Anniversary Conference at Harrogate. "Feeling Used? - Making User Involvment Real". "What is service user involvement? - Where does it happen? - Where should it happen?" (MIND website)

May 2006: A Good-Practice Guide to Valuing, Respecting and Supporting Service-User Activity published by Together's Directorate of Service-user Involvement

And, at about the same time: Service-users Together. A guide for involvement, written by Anne Beales - Peter Beresford - Gil Hitchon - Anneke Weston - and Thurstine Basset

May-June 2006 Speak Out Mental Health History Project - Birmingham - Project co-ordinator appointed

6.9.2006 MIND Coming of Age Conference in Leicester


Birmingham Mental Health History

National directory of service-user groups put online by Together.

June 2007 National User Survivor Network website online promising and official launch for the organisation in the autumn


I have based this talk on a short history of the Mental Patients Union that I wrote in 1986. I have also used material from the Survivors History Group website and material from a private autobiography I wrote.

In England, around about 1972, a few groups of psychiatric patients and sympathetic mental health staff began to make political comments on their situation in society. Effectively, many mental patients were without civil rights - For example, even the right to vote used to be removed for a mental patient without any address outside an institution


The first group I heard about was a group of patients attending the Paddington Day Hospital in West London. This was reputed to use enlightened methods of treatment including psychotherapy. National Health Service authorities wanted to close it.

There were meetings and discussions among patients and the protest against closure was successful. The Paddington Day Hospital stayed open.


One of the patients at Paddington Day Hospital was Eric Irwin. He and three professionals, Liz Durkin, Leslie Mitchell and Brian Douieb, thought there was a need for an organisation of patients. They met together write a booklet called "The Case for a Mental Patients Union". Later they were joined by two other patients, Andrew and Valerie Roberts.

This group is called the pilot committee fro a mental patients union. The booklet is often called "The Fish Pamphlet" because it has a picture of a fish on a hook on the cover. This is to illustrate that the behaviour of someone who is suffering from mental illness may appear mad, but may really be a way of getting over his or her problems.


A big meeting to discuss forming a Mental Patients Union was held in the evening of Wednesday 21st March 1973. About 100 people attended this meeting at Paddington Day Hospital. The majority were patients or ex- patients. Most lived in London.

It turned out that this was not the first Mental Patients Union. People came who had previously formed the Scottish Union of Mental Patients. People were present who had tried to form a Union in Oxford and a message was received from another group in Leeds.

The national Mental Patients Union was formed with full membership reserved for patients and ex-patients.


There was a lot of discussion about the content of the Fish Pamphlet. Many patients objected to its use of marxist ideas. It was decided that the Fish Pamphlet could be circulated by The Mental Patients Union, but would not be a MPU publication. The policy of the union would be written independently and voted on at meetings where only patients and ex-patients had a vote. This was called Declaration of Intent of the Mental Patients Union. It begins

"We proclaim the dignity of society's so-called mental patients. We challenge repressive psychiatric practice and its ill-defined concepts of 'mental illness'"


The declaration contained demands.

Some demands were moderate. For example, the right to receive private letters unopened by staff.

Some were long term aims. For example, the eventual abolition of mental hospitals.

Some were impractical. For example, the right to be represented by a member of the Mental patients Union at mental health tribunals. This was impractical because not enough MPU members were available to be representatives.

The most controversial demands seemed to be the right to refuse certain forms of treatment, such as Electro Convulsive Shock Treatment (ECT) and drugs.


As I have said, when the MPU was formed nationally, it was found out that patients unions had been formed already in different parts of the country.

SUMP, the Scottish Union of Mental Patients, was formed in 1972 by Tommy Ritchie and Robin Farqhuarson. This was the first union of psychiatric patients in the United Kingdom that we have the written records of. Tommy and Robin both helped to form the national MPU in 1973.


We know that a lot of history is forgotten or goes unrecorded. One of the aims of a history group should be to trace the activities of patients in different parts of the country before and after the public start of the mental patients movement in 1973.


Following 1973, mental patients unions were established in many parts of the country. Hackney MPU acted as a coordinating centre for some years.

Some, like the West London MPU, were very small, others had a substantial membership. Some operated in mental hospitals, other were outside the hospital. Two (Hackney and Manchester) ran houses for members.

Sometimes there was a union in a hospital linked to a union outside. This was the case in Hackney where Hackney Hospital patients established their own union with the support of the Mayola Road MPU. Hackney Hospital MPU may have been the first hospital union to win recognition from the hospital authorities.

A Federation of Mental Patients Unions was formed, at the Manchester Conference, in 1974.

Mental Patients Unions did not all have the same Declaration of Intent. Groups were free to select their own demands from the original declaration, and add others that they wanted.

It needs to be remembered that the main surviving record of the Mental Patients Union are those kept by Hackney for the movement generally.

This means that a lot of local history is still to be recovered - Including the history of MPU groups outside Hackney that carried on after Hackney MPU closed. One group. Dundee MPU, is believed to have carried on into the 1990s. Although it changed its name.


In Hackney there were two autonomous MPU's who worked together. Although I was, at one time, a patient in Hackney Hospital, the group I belonged to was the Mayola Road Mental Patients Union. I lived in Robin Farquarson House and was, at one time, the union treasurer and, at other times, its secretary.

As far as I know, no Mental Patients Union ever received any public funds. Hackney MPU was supported by donations from patients and ex-patients, and some associate members and from the rents that those of us living in the houses paid.

Associate members were people like sympathetic social workers and health service workers. There were very few of these and, whilst I was involved, all the active members were patients or ex-patients. Any patient or ex- patient could attend and vote at our meetings. Before anyone else attended, the full members present had to agree that they could.

Without funding and relying completely on our own resources, we provided services. We ran the Robin Farquarson House in Mayola Road for three years. This was divided into individual rooms that were entirely under resident's control, but it also had an office which served as a crash pad in emergencies. We often had people staying who were going through a crisis and who were supported by other residents. We also helped and advised people by telephone and letter, and there were any visitors from all over the country as well as from abroad.

We set up two other houses in Woodford to accommodate people and, after a while, these became self managing.


COPE (Community Organisation for Psychiatric Emergencies) was running in West London at the same time as MPU. Some of its members were patients. others were not. It ran a crisis centre with and published a magazine, and also tried to provide short-term housing. COPE provided a base for Eric Irwin's "West London MPU". Many people met him there. One of those people was Julian Barnett, the founder of PROMPT (Protection of the Rights of Mental Patients in Therapy)


I joined the Mental Patients Union shortly after it started. I took part in many activities but, because of my experience, I was particularly interested in the side effects of psychiatric drugs. In October 1975 I was one of the three people who brought out A Directory of the Side Effects of Psychiatric Drugs.

As an analytical chemist, I was able to help a lot on the scientific side and in reading and understanding reports.

My name at this time was Joan Martin. The other two people were Andrew Roberts and Chris Hill, who typed the directory.


Let me tell you something, first about my experience of psychiatric drugs and why it is so important that people who take them are well informed about their effects.

One day in 1969 I visited my G.P. and told her about my depression. She said that she could give me an injection for this and I would soon feel better. She said that the title of the drug was "Modecate", which I knew nothing about.

I had this injection, walked home and into a cinema to see a film. Midway through the film I felt not sleepy but incredibly depressed. The world was slipping away from me. Everything which was happening around me appeared to be taking place in another world, with which I had no connection.

For the next two years I did not initiate any activities for myself. It was a shadowy world in which I lived and I am not able to describe it. In fact I could observe what people were doing, but not act for myself, except in a desperate way, which soon ended with my entering Rubery Hill Mental Hospital.

I am not against Doctors. It was a doctor who took me off the drugs and restored my health. I entered Goodmayes Hospital on November 1st 1971, having taken an overdose. My drugs were stopped and the first day on which I began to feel better was November 29th, 1971.

Some years later I told a doctor in Hackney Hospital

"I know that drugs do me no good. And the MPU is not against doctors. In Goodmayes Hospital there was someone called Dr Abrahamson. He must have been a good doctor for he stopped giving me drugs, and after two years chronic illness, I suddenly got better."


When MPU was formed, many doctors denied that psychiatric drugs had serious side effects. There are also drugs now considered dangerously addictive that doctors then said were entirely free of problems.

We had been issuing a one-sheet listing the main psychiatric drugs with their side-effects, almost since MPU was first formed. Some people thought this was based on patients reports. But it was based on the official reports of the drugs. We were careful not to be sensational and explained that the side effects only sometimes occurred. The list was so that people would not blame their illness if they suffered the side effect.

We thought this was very reasonable - But many people were very angry about it. MIND re-published it in the first Consumers issue of their magazine, but forgot to include the warning that it was only a list of effects that might happen. This caused a great debate in its correspondence columns.

The side effects directory was eight pages. We researched it carefully, and divided it into different types of drugs, so that people were not confessed by changing names. By this time MIND were frightened to mention side effects, but the Directory was well reviewed by some medical papers. Many drug companies bought copies. We charged them extra.

Orders for the drugs directory soon outpaced the supply and I kept on reprinting it for several years, and even revised it. It is now, of course, hopelessly out of date.


Hackney MPU closed in 1976. Members who lived in the house moved into two new house. One of these was run by Matthew O'Hara until his death in June 1980. The Matthew O'Hara Committee: for Civil Liberties and Community Care was formed in his memory.

I lived, with other members, in the other house (which still exists). We kept the same telephone line and continued to answer calls to the union and correspond with people who wrote. Visitors from the movement in the United Kingdom, Europe and America frequently stayed with us. One of those who stayed was Judie Chamberlin from America, a patient activist from the United States. When she was invited to the World Congress of Mental Health in Brighton in June 1985, she was shocked to find no United Kingdom activists were invited - But worked with those who came uninvited.


PROMPT (Protection of the Rights of Mental Patients in Therapy) was formed in 1976. It was not a patients group, although several patients and ex- patients joined. Eric Irwin from West London MPU was one of its most active members. The group used the MPU logo and reprinted many MPU publications, with additions of its own.

PROMPT did not try to provide housing or set up groups in hospitals. What id did do was to provide a telephone advice service for patients and ex=patients in difficulties, unsatisfied with their treatment or living conditions. It also gave considerable attention to campaigning on specific issues such as the abolition of Electro-Convulsive Therapy.


Summary waiting to be written


Summary waiting to be written

PNP. People Not Psychiatry. People Need People

The first group was formed in London in July 1969. It re-emerged with other centres during the next few years.

A booklet, produced in Manchester in the early 1970s said that People Need People (People Not Psychiatry) "is a loose network of friends with a number of focal points".

    "We believe that every human being is a unique individual whose experience and life-style is valid. we reject the assumption that because a person's behaviour varies from what is expected or demanded of him/her they are robbed of their full status as human beings by a process of psychiatric labelling. Further, we recognise that no human being can develop fully in isolation from others. the full potential of a human being can only be attained through the relationship of self to other, the meeting of I and Thou.

    The Aims of PNP

    1) To provide a supportive network of friendship based on the acceptance of each person as a unique individual, each one with a life-style that is valid for him/her.

    2) To provide a physical environment (houses or houses) where a variety of activities can be pursued by various sub-groups within the wider network.

    3) To bear witness to the fact that there are valid values and life-styles other than those proposed by the establishment."

Paddington Day Hospital Action Group

10.12.1971 Guardian page 5: Clinic fights merger plan "Staff and patients at the Paddington Clinic and Day Hospital have formed a protest group to fight a proposal to transfer the unit to the St Mary's teaching hospital.

The day hospital - with a staff of about 50 and places for 80 patients - claims to have developed successful treatments for psychiatric patients. The proposed changes are in line with long-range plans to give teaching hospitals more responsibility for "district work"

Mr Alan Powditch, secretary to the St Mary's hospital board, said yesterday that St Mary's has plans to provide 60 psychiatric beds and 80 day places as part of a reconstruction programme. These would be within 300 yards of the present day clinic, which would therefore be redundant.

According to the protesters the group therapy system evolved at the day hospital justifies keeping the clinic open. "Individual therapy is out of reach to the majority because of the cost" says the group. "Under the NHS there are long waiting lists for it"

Case for a Mental Patients Union

Amended excerpts from Hinchcliffe, Dave 1977.

In December 1972, a group of [people] in the London area produced a pamphlet [The "Fish Pamphlet"] on The Need for a Mental Patients' Union arguing that "psychiatry is one of the most subtle methods of repression in advanced Capitalist society".

[There were (small) meetings drafting the pamphlet and discussing the case for a union before Christmas 1972 held at Liz Durkin's - Flat 1, 13 Christchurch Road, London, N8. The participants were Liz, Brian Douieb, Leslie Mitchell, Eric Irwin, Valerie and Andrew Roberts. Liz, Brian and Leslie did not count themselves as patients or ex-patients. Valerie and Andrew were interested in the union rather than the pamphlet]

The founding committee circulated this initial statement to psychiatric hospitals and various places where ex-patients were likely to congregate, together with notices of a meeting to be held [on Wednesday 21.3.1973 at Paddington Day Hospital] to discuss the formation of a union.

The poster circulated says "is psychiatry social repression? the case for a mental patients union. a meeting of patients and ex-patients at: paddington day-hospital: 217 harrow rd. W.2. wed. 21st march 7.30. p.m." Small adverts appeared in Time Out on 9.3.1973, Freedom (Anarchist Weekly) on 10.3.1973 and Quest 16.3.1973

Bearing in mind the difficulties involved in making contact with patients in various parts of the country, it is interesting to note that of some 150 reported to have attended the meeting, held at Paddington Day Hospital, over 100 were patients or ex-patients, some coming from as far afield as Scotland. [Figures almost certainly incorrect. Figures and details on the main timeline are based on the surviving records.]

[The steering group had anticipated incremental growth. The explosive growth of numbers was entirely due to a brief, pre-recorded interview on Radio 4's Today programme on the morning of the day. Interviewer Michael Sheils. Producer Marshall Stewart. The steering group insisted a patient/ex-patient be interviewed. A telephone number (the Roberts's) was given out and started ringing as soon as the programme finished. It kept on ringing every time it was put down for much of the morning. The attendance list and handwritten minutes of the first meeting survive.]

Mental Patients Union (MPU)

Pam Edwards, Lewis Mantus and Liz Durkin, photographed at the window of 97 Prince of Wales Road (Sunday Time 23.9.1973)

Amended excerpts from Hinchcliffe, Dave 1977.

The initial meeting resolved that full membership of the union would be restricted to patients and ex patients only, despite evidently strong pleas [??] for it to be open to others, including relatives and professionals. The role of these two groups in compulsory admissions to hospital was highlighted by those objecting to open membership. At the meeting a working party of some two dozen full members was formed and not long after set up office in a London squat. This nucleus was given the task of producing a statement of the union's intent and drafting a proposed organisational framework for MPU.

[I think the case for relatives was made. I do not recall anyone suggesting professionals (as such) should be full members. There is little in the lists of attenders to suggest people came from any further afield than Oxford (three). One person is Bath and another Yorkshire. The Scotland representation was already living in London and almost everyone gave a London address.]

Meeting that formed the "Mental Patients Union" held 7.30pm. Wednesday 21st March at Paddington Day Hospital

Minutes "based on notes taken by Michael Cardew and Andrew Roberts"

Present over one hundred people. [About 86 signed list, giving address etc] 54 people signed list as "patient or ex-patient" and others were present who did not sign list. About eight people filled in "occupation" as "social worker". Four psychologists and one "doctor" also on list. 19 people wrote "no" in patient/ex-patient column.

Meeting opened with outline by member of pilot committee (Leslie Mitchell) of who they were and what they had done.

Eric Irwin granted permission to tape meeting. Loretta Land, chairwoman of Patients Committee at Marlborough Day Hospital offered to chair meeting. offer accepted.

Meeting forced to adjourn to larger room

Initial discussion on whether it was possible to revolutionise society and form a patients union. Some thought patients unions goals could not be achieved without revolutionising society, others that they were two separate issues and we couldn't do both. Latter said they agreed with forming a patients union.Nobody wanted to revolutionise society and not form a patients union!

Initial discussion of place of non mental patients/ex-patients in union. Patient asked if there were any psychiatrists present. Lady from Claybury said she was but that she did not want to interfere. Psychologist who was a member of the Philadelphia Association said she was not practising and had a sister who was a patient.

Criticism of Pilot Committee voiced. Edward Spalek suggested pilot committee member should chair the meeting. Brian Douieb refused on part of non patient/ex-patient members of the Pilot Committee. Offer from Andrew Roberts (ex-patient and pilot committee member) accepted.

Andrew Roberts Chairman: suggested "revolutionise question" could be dropped as it arose from Pilot Committee leaflet and the policy and politics of the mental patients union would be formed by the union not the pilot committee. Suggested meeting take up question of case for mental patients union.

Considerable discussion on question of who should be able to vote at meeting. two problems a) should non patients/ex-patients be excluded from voting, b) what was the line that distinguished a patient from a non- patient (eg did private treatment count, or treatment from a GP). First problem only dealt with as became clear that complex problems involved in second.

Edward Ward, London organiser of P.R.O.P spoke. Said he was also an ex- patient of Napsbury and that he thought prisons and mental hospitals were the same kind of thing. Argued that we had to make up our minds either to be a union or not to be a union (Cry of 'Rubbish'). We should exclude all except patients and ex-patients. Other groups could work in their own organisations. Also we should draw up a statement of demands to fight for.

Status of relatives raised. Many felt that relatives were often responsible for putting patients inside. Also felt associate membership dealt with case.

Decisions (Voted on)

  1. Only patients and ex-patients to vote at meeting

  2. We should form a mental patients union

  3. Nobody who is not a patient or ex-patient should be a member of that Union. Associate membership to be open to others at the discretion of the Union. Terms 'member' and 'associate member' to be interpreted as by P.R.O.P.

Rough agenda drawn up:

  1. Question of whether union should be local or national

  2. Charter of Rights... intent of union

  3. Working Committee for Union and Structure

  4. Finance (not eventually dealt with)

  5. Live in drop in centre (Robin Farquarson)

  6. Legal Aid (not eventually dealt with)

Discussion: Nathan Morris, Secretary of the Public Action for Broadmoor, spoke of the need for positive power and of democracy in special institutions like Shenley and Napsbury. Patients going into a hospital should have Union Representation raised as important point

Speaker said we had to work out whether we were going to try to make and inadequate system work or fight against oppression. heated discussion of whether some parts of system worked. patients from Marlborough Day Hospital and Paddington Day Hospital spoke for and against their hospitals.

Local or National? Notice had been received from groups in Oxford and Leeds who were trying to set up mental patients groups. D. O'Brien, a Oxford students (not a patient or ex-patient) outlined efforts at Oxford.

In discussion there was strong opposition to centralisation and direction of local groups by a London based organisation. The claimants Union was suggested as a model.

Decision (Vote) Members voted on forming

    a) a Paddington Mental Patients Union

    b) a London Mental Patients Union

    c) a general "Mental Patients Union" without area being specified

Majority voted for last proposal

Charter of Rights? patient said we should draw up a declaration of intent. After considerable discussion the following provisional declaration was agreed:

The Mental Patients Union will represent mental patients and ex-patients wherever they require to be represented. We will fight to make what rights of representation formally exist effective and secure rights of representation wherever they do not exist.

We will work towards the abolition of compulsory treatment.

We demand the total abolition of irreversible psychiatric treatments (electric shock, brain surgery, specific drugs, etc). We demand higher standards in the testing of treatments before use on patients. We demand that patients should be informed if a treatment is experimental and should have the effective right to refuse to be experimented on. We demand that patients be told hat treatments they are receiving and what the long term effects are.

We will also fight for the abolition of censorship by hospital authorities of patients communications with society outside the hospital and in particular the abolition of phone call and letter censorship, and the abolition of any power of hospital authorities to restrict patients visitors.

Robin Farquarson offered accommodation in Charrington St. N.W.1 for the MPU in a house that has been procured by squatting and needs a certain amount of repair. Offer accepted.

A list of volunteers to form a working committee was prepared and it was agreed that the pilot committee should be responsible fro calling that group together and passing over its functions to the group.

The temporary telephone number of the Mental Patients Union was fixed as "Andrew Roberts 804 2357" and the temporary address as "c/o Flat 1, 13 Christchurch Road, Crouch End, London, N8"

Decision (Vote) That the next meeting of the Mental Patients Union should be called by the working group for a fortnight hence and that it should be held at a time most convenient for patients in hospital. (Preferably a weekend).

Suggested that two meetings might be called - the weekend meeting and another for those who could only be present in the evenings.

Under Any Other Business, Andrew Roberts was left with responsibility for dealing with the press.

[After the first meeting, Robin Farquarson took a small group of people round a squat (no floorboards) which he suggested we could prepare as MPU headquarters. It was agreed at the first meeting that the pamphlet was not an MPU statement, although the union could circulate it as a statement by the pilot committee for the MPU]

After the first General Meeting a leaflet was used that said:

The Mental Patients Union

The Mental Patients Union is a union of mental patients and ex-patients formed and run by mental patients and ex-patients. It was founded on March 21st 1973, Membership is restricted to mental patients and ex-patients. There will be, however, a non-decision making associate membership with no voting rights.
The Union has issued the following Provisional Declaration of Intent:

[and then as above in the minutes of the first meeting]

The declaration is provisional and the working committee are preparing a more detailed statement on the basis of it to be presented to the next general meeting of the Union. All publications of the "Pilot Committee for a Mental Patients Union" are superseded by the publications of the Union itself and do not have the authority of the Union. They should not be quoted therefore as the policy of the Mental Patients Union.

[And then contact address and telephone as in minutes]

Rough minutes of Working Committee 25.3.1973 (Andrew's handwriting) "Pam Edwards made offer of "accommodation" at 97 Prince of Wales Road. Meeting very uncertain what her offer consisted of". - Andrew went to see Pam at 97 Prince of Wales to find out.

Minutes of Working Committee 29.3.1973 at 97 Prince of Wales Road, NW5. Mike Cardew chaired and wrote the minutes. They are mainly about the Declaration.

Provisional Agenda Wednesday 28.3.1973 (Andrew's handwriting). Notes on: 1) Constitution of MPU to be recommended to a general meeting. 2) Classes of Membership.

Friday 6.4.1973 The Sun, p.7 "Riddle of the dropout doctor". "Dr Robert Farquarson... was burned in a fire in a derelict house in Platt St. Camden Town three days ago. He died in University College Hospital"

Saturday 7.4.1973 MPU General Meeting at Polytantric, 60 Malden Road, NW5. The wake for Robin Farquarson had been held in the room the night before and nobody had tidied up. The declaration that the working group had drafted was gone through point by point, amended and agreed. The programme for the meeting survives, but I have not got minutes. My memory says that we carried on as long as we could at the Polytantric and then adjourned to 97 Prince of Wales Road. The meeting went on late, so it was quite a small group that agreed the last details.

11.4.1973 Minutes of meeting taken by Janet. Fish logo.

Why the love fish did not become the MPU Logo

2.5.1973 Typed minutes of a meeting at 97 Prince of Wales Road. Printing of "Statement of Intent" was having problems at Hornsey College of Art. Bedford project confident of getting house for MPU. Awaiting news. Brian, Jezz and Eric to be signatories of account at Co-op Bank. Pam to arrange hall for General Meeting in 3rd Week of June.

Declaration of Intent of the Mental Patients Union

We proclaim the dignity of society's so-called mental patients. We challenge repressive psychiatric practice and its ill-defined concepts of 'mental illness'.

We state that the present appalling situation in 'mental health' primarily arises from the acute problems in housing, unemployment and social inequality.

Mental patients in our society are treated as people with no human rights. We are stigmatised, and our accounts of what happens to us in mental hospitals and outside are taken as symptoms of an 'illness'. Most of us are never even given the opportunity to speak about what happens in mental hospitals, as we are incarcerated there and subjected to 'treatments' which destroy our memories, confuse our speech and co-ordination, destroy our incentive and intimidate us.

Our first intent in forming ourselves into a union is to fight against the 'conspiracy of deafness' that confronts us.

The Mental Patients Union will represent mental patients wherever they require to be represented. We will fight to make what rights of representation formally exist effective and secure rights of representation wherever they do not exist. We will seek to inform patients and ex-patients about their rights, minimal though they are e.g. the right to appeal against compulsory detention in some circumstances). We will, however, as representatives of our fellow mental patients, refuse to bargain behind the backs of our members with the 'authorities'. We will attempt to provide legal, social and advisory support for all mental patients and ex-patients who ask the Union for help.

We will expose the myth that most treatment and admission to mental hospitals is really voluntary. We will do this by:

1. Publicising the deceit that authorities use to get people into mental hospitals with the least resistance, the deception and force that is frequently used to inflict 'treatment'; and the cases of forcibly detained patients classified as voluntary.

2. Exposing the desperate situations where people have no alternative but to accept mental hospital admission, because of lack of accommodation, necessary welfare services or homes for the elderly.

3. Exposing the power of psychiatrists to prevent technically 'voluntary' patients from leaving by imposing compulsory detention orders, removing patients' clothes, by locking 'open' wards and by heavy drug use and other deceptive tactics.

We will expose the use of 'treatments' as forms of punishment.

We will expose the way in which Social Workers are used as control agents to cover up the social outrages of our society; and how industrial and occupational therapy is used as a source of cheap labour, and expose the dull, soul-destroying work which is called occupational therapy.

We intend to show how rehabilitation is used as a process which seeks only to achieve adjustment and conformity of the patient to the present social system.

We will show how psychotherapy can act as a subtle form of social control.


1. The abolition of compulsory treatment; i.e. we demand the effective right of patients to refuse any specific treatment.

2. The abolition of any right of 'authorities' to treat patients in the face of opposition of relatives or closest friends unless it is clearly shown that the patient of his own volition desires the treatment.

3. The abolition of irreversible psychiatric 'treatments' (electro-convulsive therapy, brain surgery, specific drugs).

4. Higher standards in the testing of 'treatments' before use on us.

5. That patients be told what 'treatments' they are receiving experimental and should have the effective right to refuse to be experimented on.

6. That patients to be told what 'treatments' they are receiving and what the long-term effects are.

7. Also the abolition of isolation 'treatment' (seclusion in locked side rooms, padded cells, etc.)

8. The right of any patient to inspect his casenotes and the right to take legal action relating to the contents and consequences of them.

9. That the 'authorities' should not discharge a patient against his or her will because they refuse 'treatment' or for any other reason.

10. That all patients should have the right to have any 'treatment' which they believe will help them.

11. That local authorities should provide housing for patients wishing to leave hospital and that adequate security benefits should be provided. We will support any mental patients or ex-patients in their struggle to get these facilities and any person who is at risk of becoming a mental patient because of inadequate accommodation, financial support, social pressures, etc.

12. We call for the abolition of compulsory hospitalisation.

13. An end to the indiscriminate use of the term 'mental subnormality'. We intend to fight the condemnation of people as 'mentally subnormal' in the absence of any real practical work to tackle the problem with active social understanding and help.

14. The abolition of the concept of 'psychopath' as a legal or medical category.

15. The right of patients to retain their personal clothing in hospitals and to secure personal possessions without interference by hospital staff.

16. The abolition of compulsory work in hospitals and outside and the abolition of the right of hospital 'authorities' to withhold and control patients' money.

17. The right of patients to join and participate fully in the Trade Union of their choice.

18. That Trade Union rates are paid to patients for any work done where such rates do not yet exist.

19. That patients should have recourse to a room in which they can enjoy their own privacy, or have privacy with others, of either sex, of their own choosing.

20. The abolition of censorship by hospital authorities of patients' communications with society outside the hospital I and in particular the abolition of telephone and letter censorship.

21. We demand the abolition of any power to restrict patients' visiting rights by the hospital authorities.

22. The right of Mental Patients Union representatives to inspect all areas of hospitals, or equivalent institutions.

23. We deny that there is any such thing as 'incurable' mental 'illness' and demand the right to investigate the circumstances of any mental hospital patient who believes he or she is being treated as 'incurable'.

24. We demand that every mental patient or ex-patient should have the right to a free second opinion by a psychiatrist of the patient's or Mental Patients' Union representatives' choice, if he or she disagrees with the diagnosis and that every mental patient or ex-patient should have the right to effective appeal machinery.

We believe that the eventual abolition of mental hospitals and the institution of repressive and manipulative psychiatry is possible, but only if society is radically changed, for what is known as 'mental illness' is a symptom of a defective and sick society.

The Declaration After the Federation formed, the declaration was printed and published by Mayola Road (Hackney) Mental Patients Union. As far as I know, nothing was ever taken away from the above statement. Pam, always creative, felt free to rearrange the paragraphs in one printed edition, but it did not alter the meaning. New material was added by Mayola Road (Hackney) Mental Patients Union. Other unions (including the autonomous Hackney Hospital Union) were free to create their own declarations, and often did so by first cutting out large portions of the above declaration and developing their own from the parts their members agreed to.

The MPU Logo

MPU Nick Crossley 19.6.1998: "Where and when did the 'human head on a spider's web' logo come from? I'm guessing that it signifies human beings caught up in the web of psychiatry and social control - is that right?"

Andrew Roberts Tuesday 10.8.1999:

Wednesday 4.7.1973 Minutes say Andrew camping out at 37 Mayola Road. Brendan Maher (self-styled "Brendan the broom") helped clean the house and introduced Andrew to Centerprise in Dalston Lane. Andrew attended a meeting of the Federation of Claimants Unions at Ben Johnson House during the early days, where he met Jim Conway who came back to Mayola Road and became a tenant. At the Federation meeting they were discussing the draft of the Claimants Handbook for Prisoners. A member of the (small) Oxford Mental Patients' Union (not Clive Perret) was also there.

Wednesday 25.7.1973 Pam Edwards to move in to 37 Mayola.

August 1973: Joan Martin read a small advertisement in the Socialist Worker: "The Mental Patients Union are meeting once per week in Prince of Wales Terrace."

Tuesday 1.1.1974 Decision to have meetings at Mayola Road [Saturday afternoons]. Since being evicted from 97 Prince of Wales Road, the MPU had been meeting in very cold room in central London lent by the employer of a tenant at 37 Mayola Road. It was during this time that David Cooper was attending meetings.

MANCHESTER MARCH 1974. In March 1974 a national General Meeting resolved that groups should be autonomous, but linked in a Federation of Mental Patients' Unions.

MPU Membership

On 19th March 1974 the Full Members cards in the card index file for mailing were: 72 in hospital; 234 out of hospital in the UK and 8 abroad.

On 30th July 1974 there were between 375 and 400 Full Members in the card index.

On 24th January 1975 we mailed 269 Full Members.

Robin Farquarson House, 37 Mayola Road

"It's not a happy ship" Austin Johnson - on guitar in posed picture. Jenny Shakeshaft (on right) "preferred it to rented rooms where she was always depressed". "Members told me that they liked their own accomodation, which they obtained through the Peter Bedford Project, because there is no one in charge telling them what to do". Tony O'Donnell is on Austin's right, then Lilian, then Andrew Roberts. The picture and quotes are from the Jackie Rose column in the Hackney Gazette 21.6.1974.

Interview with Humpty Dumpty

The interview was based on three visits Saturday 16.11.1974 - 25.1.1975 - 15.2.1975. More members were present than are recorded in the interview. Humpty Dumpty were scrupulous about checking that we agreed we said what they said we said - So like it or not, we said it! Issue "6 + 7", in which the interview was published (pages 6-10) does not have a date.

Humpty, as usual, gets it right
This interview took place at a regular general meeting of the Hackney Mental Patients Union. These meetings are open to anyone who is or has been a mental patient, and are held at Robin Farquarson House in Hackney. They are the controlling body of Hackney M.P.U. which runs two households, campaigns for the civil liberties and welfare rights of its members and generally represent their interests in whatever ways seem practical. The views expressed in the interview are of those involved, however they are generally representative of the ideas of M.P.U. activists. Taking part in the discussion were Joan Martin, Val and Andrew Roberts, Austin Johnson and others. The article that follows is a condensed version of discussions that we had on several occasions.

When was the M.P.U. founded?

Andrew: In March '73 a meeting was called at the Paddington Day Hospital by a pilot committee and was attended by 150 or so people, about a 100 of whom were or had been mental patients. This group drew up our policy document - "The Declaration of Intent" - and established regular weekly meetings in a squat in Camden. In June '73 we acquired Robin Farquarson House through a housing association. Later the squat was repossessed and so the office and meetings were transferred here. Our last national meeting was in March last year when there were groups as far north as Dundee and south as Poole, Dorset. It was decided then that local groups should be autonomous but linked in an informal federation.

Are you attempting something like Cope or the Philadelphia Association, setting up anti-hospitals or asylums, as alternatives to bins ?

Andrew: No. What were trying to do is to make patients in hospitals more aware of their rights and to press for changes in the running of hospitals - such as the right to choose and refuse treatments and the end to compulsory hospitalization. These aims are set out in the Declaration of Intent.

We don't think hospitals are the right place for people to go to, let alone live in, so we have three houses where people, who might otherwise have to go into hospital for the lack of anywhere else to go can live. But that's what they are - places to live not places for therapy. There's a general feeling that any sort of structured therapy within the households would make them like mental hospitals. Segregating those who allegedly need a "therapeutic community" (as opposed to a community) from those who can live freely maintains the degrading distinction between allegedly mentally "ill" and "healthy" people. And along with it the allocation of different levels of responsibility, rationality and power. Personally I would restrict this criticism of therapy to living situations. Outside of the home, in situations from which one can easily withdraw, therapy may have a role.

Val Anything a mental patient does or has done to her tends to be termed "therapy" - for non-patients it might simply be called "having a chat".

What we're trying to do is provide places for people to live as human beings. We're a third choice instead of the usual two when the situation in one's home gets impossible, of living on the streets or going into hospital.

We don't think this alternative will solve the problem - political action is necessary for that. But the way I see it, it's idealistic to think either in terms of changing society without bothering about the problems that exist now or in terms of creating utopian anti-hospitals as an end in themselves without having a broader political awareness of the problem.

Do you have links with other trade unions or revolutionary organisations?

Andrew: Left organizations in general seem largely unconcerned with the issues raised by claimants, prisoners, mental patients, gay people, women and so on. We have no formal links with trade unions, though we did support the nurses' strike. In principle however I think we should have and at the next A.G.M. we've a motion calling for discussions with the Hackney Trades Council about the exploitation of mental patients and ex-patients as cheap labour.

How do doctors and nurses react to the M.P.U.?

Andrew: As an idea they often say they find it "interesting" or "has possibilities", but if patients in their hospital form a group they are terrified. Any collective action by patients threatens the whole notion of hospitals and treatment - unless it's supervised by the staff.

There are a small number who are associate members and support our activities - but their hands are rather tied, if they do anything publicly they can place their jobs in jeopardy.

Why are you opposed to hospitals?

Andrew: There are a whole number of reasons - the main is I think, that treatment cannot solve the problems that people go into hospital with. These problems are the result of living in an alienating society, where jobs are uninteresting, where workers have little control over their work situation, where housing is short and often of poor quality. Where people live in isolated unite often without much contact with each other. The idea of treatment locates the problem in the individual and tries to change the individual. But that can only ever be confusing since the problem is wider than a single person. Going into hospital removes the person from the situation that caused the problem, but that only means that the problem isn't solved.

Val: There are situations from which it helps to withdraw, but not into a mental hospital. Drugs and regimentation just create new problems for you.

Andrew: We need to create practical ways of collective defence against the social forces that break us down and on that basis fight back against them. Mental hospitals are part of the process of braking us down. They are societies effort to make our anguish and anger impotent and to force us to acknowledge defeat. We are fighting back.

Can you tell us something about what it's like to be in a mental hospital?

Andrew: Unless you've been in hospital it's difficult to realise how much your life is interfered with in hospital. One is always being supervised and watched.

Joan: There's no privacy - you're always being watched. The rooms are usually huge so its very difficult to talk - staff always break these situations by joining in. The idea is that patients can't help themselves or each other, they need professional helpers to interfere in the interests of treatment.

Val In one hospital I was in - Belmont - patients were discouraged from talking to other patients because the nurses thought it would make us worse, more upset. As soon as three or four patients got together the nurses would break us up and join in. Andrew; Hospital is the only place where watching T.V. is made into a chore. If patients are sitting around not doing much they are told to watch T.V. Joan; And if you don't want to watch T.V. they think you must be isolating yourself so they give you extra drugs which only makes things more confusing.

Andrew The same things happen at socials - if you don't want to join in they think you must be sick and so they try and make you join in.

Austin: It's just impossible to be normal in hospital - if you talk too much you're manic if you talk too little you're depressed.

Everything you do is watched, observed and labelled with some psychiatric word - yon just can't have an argument with someone, its turned into part of your problem. You're paranoid, or too aggressive, or too passive and so on and so on. It's impossible to be "right" - because the basic assumption in the place is that something is "wrong" with you, you're sick, abnormal and so everything you do is seen as sick and abnormal.

And then they write it all down in the nurse's report which you aren't allowed to see and they call you "paranoid". Andrew: Hospitals alter the significance of every aspect of daily life. Food for instance is used for social control. Nurses use food to reward or punish patients.

Joan: I remember they used to refuse second helpings to patients who weren't behaving themselves. If you were good you were allowed to help lay the table.

Brendan: When I was in Hackney Hospital the nurses were overworked and no time for getting themselves meals so they would steal patients' food. Instead of putting it all out on the trolley in the evening, they'd keep some back for themselves.

This went on a long time and I complained about it a lot but nothing was done. Then one day I found a soup tureen full of soup that they had left out by mistake and I threw it down the stairs.

What else could I do to show them how I felt? They ignored what I'd said. And of course that was treated as some kind of abnormal, crazy thing to do.

Andrew: Censorship goes on all the time. About what can go on noticeboards - as we have found out - about what can even be said about what can be sent in or out in letters. Very basic civil rights that we all take for granted are refused to mental patients - supposedly in their interests. M.P.U. activities counteract this interference and so threaten the hospital.

For instance doctors don't like their patients to know what the side-effects of the drugs they are given are. When I was last in hospital I developed the shakes so badly that I thought I was breaking up completely. I didnt know that it was the side effect of Stelazine. M.P.U has produced a list of the side effects which we post into hospitals. That really upsets the doctors.

Robert Ashwell, a member in Rampton Hospital, had his locker searched in an attempt to find these lists. The literature we were sending him was systematically being removed from his mail. We wrote to the hospital secretary asking him why they were not being returned to us - as they should have been under the 1959 Mental Health Act. He denied that this had been going on, but a few days later we heard from Robert that his doctor had returned his letter to him.

Val: At two hospitals I was in, if you were in a locked ward, you weren't allowed to send a letter out without first asking staff. That's general practise in locked wards I think.

Andrew: We oppose the use of the mental profession to deny the constitutional, legal rights of the individual. For instance there is at present no effective right of appeal against compulsory hospitalization and so in effect it is a prison sentence. If not worse because you are never sure when it will end which is a very frightening feeling.

What do you think should happen to people who are dangerous and violent and sent to places like Broadmoor and Rampton?

Val: The abstraction violent/non-violent is not particularly useful, in my opinion. Violence occurs in a particular situation and must be dealt with in its context not in abstraction,

Have you problems with violence in your houses?

Andrew: At times our houses in Mayola Road and Derby Road have coped with threatening behaviour, more than most households would. However sometimes houses have had to ask people to leave.

Val: There are of course situations where all channels of communication are completely blocked and a violent reaction makes more sense than a non-violent one.'

What about institutions that have been built specifically to contain violent behaviour?

Joan: Violence should be a criminal offence and violent people should be charged. But they should not be put on a compulsory hospital order without a proper trial and right of appeal. If someone commits a crime they are punished, mental patients are punished not only for things they have done but also for things it is alleged they may do in the future.

Andrew: There is no solution to this problem within a class society. But in any case it is clear that there must be ways of dealing with violent behaviour. But I do think the significance of this problem is mis-represented. The violence in our society is predominantly the violence of the sane, rich and powerful. It is the person who evicts squatters who is violent not the squatter. The lawyers, politicians who plan to make squatting illegal who are vicious not the squatter who seeks shelter. Drug companies make fortunes from poisoning our nervous systems with psychiatric drugs with the full support of the law, but you smoke a pleasant and harmless drug like cannabis the police break up your home and haul you before the courts. Who are the psychopaths?

Do you think that people with physical disorders should be treated in hospitals?

Andrew Only if there is a treatment that is effective and hospital is the appropriate place. The problem as to whether a particular condition is the result of an organic impairment is irrelevant unless there is something that can be done about it in hospital. Very few physical disorders, such as physical handicap, are treatable in the sense that a physical illness is treatable - at least for the present. If there is no treatment the person should not be in hospital and what is really important is how that person is treated by others-whether he is receiving treatment or not. Everybody is the same - we all want to be and need to be treated as human beings.

Val: We had an old lady here who was classified as suffering from senile dementia. She needed watching so she didn't burn her clothes by going to close to the fire, or fall down the stairs. But we tried to talk to her and after a while she became far more lucid and started to do things for herself, which the doctor who had been looking after her claimed was impossible. Like having a bath or helping with the washing-up. What happens at the moment is that these people become institutionalised rather than being supported in their own attempts to deal with their own difficulties.

Andrew: Social workers who have visited us freak out at the idea that someone should be living in a normal household if they suspect "organic basis".

Val: Hospitals are just full of people who don't really need to be there, they've just nowhere else to go-like old people with no family.

But it isn't it true that families are quite eager to get rid of their slightly dotty grandparents? Don't people want people who behave strangely locked away?

Andrew: There's very little help for people who want to keep an elderly relative as part of the family. Society's structure is such that old people aren't seen as being useful in any way so they're not wanted. There's no work for them to do, no social centres for them to go to. They are treated as a pain in the neck by society outside the family. So along comes the doctor when the family is at breaking point and tells them that hospital's the best place for granddad. Society creates the problems, it expects the family to solve them and when the family cracks it provides a rubbish bin to drop one of the members into to make it better for the others.

Do you think drugs can ever be useful?

Andrew: Yes, but only if the patient is free to choose whether to take them or not. He or she must be told about the drugs first-especially the side effects.

Austin: Half the patients in hospital try to avoid taking their pills, that's why there's so much supervision and policing, so that patients get what they "need", even if they don't want it.

Joan: You see the only person who knows how you feel, is you, so you've got every right to refuse treatment, if it doesn't make you feel better. Which is after all the aim of treatment, isn't it?

Andrew: Treatment strikes are one of the forms of action that patients have taken.

Joan: Of course some patients want the treatment - and they shouldn't be prevented from having it . It's rather different to strike in a factory, where is collective action, everybody taking the same action.

Andrew The problem is that in these situations they find what they call the "ringleaders" and either give them Largactil injections or discharge them. Trevor Hodgkin at Longrove was threatened with never being let out of hospital, ever, then we were told he'd been discharged. But recently we heard from him - he'd been sent to Broadmoor.

Val: What's happening to many people who end up in hospital is that they're behaviour is logical enough, they're just operating on not enough facts, or the wrong ones. So why give them drugs which only make them more confused and less aware of what's going on?

What changes are you fighting for at the moment-could you tell us something about what happened at Hackney Hospital?

Andrew: Our main activities as a local group have been to do with the local bin in Hackney, where Joan, Brendan and others have been patients.

Patients there and some of us, tried to hold a meeting there, but it was broken up by a nurse and the M.P.U. was banned in the hospital. We carried on in a clandestine way with backroom meetings, continual rows, putting posters up which were torn down and so on.

Eventually patients forced the hospital to permit M.P.U. meetings. There was a meeting with staff at which a doctor said "the trouble with you is that you're better organised than we are". They weren't prepared to admit publicly that patients were not permitted to meet together inside the hospital, so they gave in. But the first chairman of the hospital branch was given an extra dose of Largactil immediately after the victory and his successor was offered a place at the Henderson which she took.

That's how they deal with dissenters - discharge you or knock you out with injections. If you are working class they say any kind of dissention means you're getting worse, so they increase medication, put you in another ward or even transfer you. If you're middle class they say you must be getting better and discharge you!

Then they painted all the furniture in the room we used to meet in without warning, so we had to use another room. Then they made the day of the M.P.U. meeting a day when the patients had to attend a compulsory hospital meeting. We should have kept on fighting, in fact the group has started meeting again.

What sort of changes would you like to see in the way of treatment centres?

Andrew: It isn't a matter of "treatment". The problem isn't a medical one - It's a problem of frustrated human needs. These needs should be met generally, not just for people labelled "mentally ill".

Apart from housing and income what needs are you thinking of?

Andrew: Well, the need for a social life. Loneliness is a major problem and there should be far more community facilities for single people, old people...everyone. We need more day nurseries. We need full employment, a breakdown of the division between manual and mental labour so that work can be interesting, workers' control of industry.

Again and again we find ourselves coming up against the problem of accommodation -people can never choose where they live because space is at such a premium.

Joan: When patients are discharged, they very often have nowhere to go. Horton Hospital gives them their fare to the station and a £1 note. Even if you do have a bedsit-who wants that, with no prospect for a decent job, possibly not knowing anyone else in the neighbourhood. Anyone would crack up in that situation.

Many people would agree that the atrocities you have been talking about go on, but only in rare cases, in a few hospitals and most hospitals are humane and less restrictive.

Andrew: Okay, so some hospitals are better than others, but I still disagree with what goes on there. By "good" hospitals people often mean those with group therapy,instead of physical treatment. It isn't so much better though-what often happens is that doctors are directing the other patients to attack certain behaviour. Anyway what's the point of having all that insight if you've nowhere to live, no money, and no prospects?

The places that offer therapy are very selective, they only take young people with high I.Q.'s.

Can people who are working in the hospitals do anything useful?

Andrew: Well, what they need to do is to stop worrying about the patients and look at themselves. People who work in hospitals are so locked into the idea of being do-gooders, that they never look at what they're actually doing to their patients. They could become associate members and distribute literature we print but its almost impossible to take more independent action without being fired.

I believe you're having problems with finding accommodation at the moment?

Andrew: Yes, that's true. The Mayola Road house is being repossessed by the G.L.C. to be knocked down to build a school in the area. We're involved in a campaign at the moment to persuade the G.L.C. to extend our notice by at least six months.

Lately, social workers in the borough have been sending ex-mental patients to us to find accommodation. We think that if they do this they should also provide financial support so we can run the Union more efficiently, as well as permanent accommodation for our households.

If people want to help, letters in support can be sent to us at 37 Mayola Road, London E.5 and we'll forward them on to the council. Hackney M.P.U. Meetings - every Saturday at 2.00 p.m. at 37 Mayola Road, London E.5 MPU

Publications - available from Mayola Road.

Declaration of Intent - MPU stickers for putting up in hospitals - MPU Directory of Psychiatric Drugs - new edition ; Side effects leaflet ; "Don't be kept in hospital for the rest of your life", a sheet for pinning on hospital notice boards on how to apply to Mental Health Tribunals; "Mental Patients Union" - a list of groups. M.S. Please send some loose stamps to cover postage - not S.A.E. MPU exists on donations so give if you can afford it. Details of membership and associate membership also available. Membership is open to patients and ex-patients, associate membership to sympathetic non-patients.

May/June/July 1975 Major crisis at Robin Farquarson House.

Friday 23.5.1975 Decided to suspend regular weekly meetings and hold regular monthly meetings instead.

October 1975 A Directory of the Side Effects of Psychiatric Drugs by Chris Hill (who typed it), Joan Martin, and A. Roberts, (Re- printed by Joan October 1977)

January 1976 MPU members began moving out of Robin Farquarson House and setting up two other houses - Rented to named individuals, not the MPU. The telephone number went to one of these. The other was 31 Ickburgh Road, which was to provide accommodation for those people who wanted it from Derby Road. Robin Farquarson House was fully vacated in April 1976

MPU Hackney closed down in 1976 - There were no open meetings after 1975. For a while there was an effort to maintain collective responsibility for 31 Ickburgh Road under the name "MPU HOUSING", but this did not last. There are some minutes of MPU HOUSING in the minutes file for May 1976. Matthew O'Hara carried on with Ickburgh Road as a personal venture. The Directory of Psychiatric Drugs continued to be distributed from the other house, and the telephone was still answered. MPU members in both houses remained active in mental health politics. [This web page is written on a computer at the last Hackney MPU address, using the Hackney MPU records. The telephone number is the same, as is the person who answers it]

Community Organisation for Psychiatric Emergencies

founded 1973

This grew out of the bosom of BIT - the alternative information service.

29.6.1973 Notices about the formation of a "Crisis Centre" were sent out to several papers and the following week the first meeting was held. (Copeman 3 page 7)

Introducing Copeman, the first magazine, was sent out in February 1974. It was followed by Copeman 1, 2, 3 and 4 (Winter 1974). These, like BIT publications, were all A4 duplicated. Then came printing and new names. Heavy Daze (formerly Copeman) was a printed magazine, as was the new BIT publication Bitter Sweet. Heavy Daze number six followed the first Heavy Daze sometime in 1976.

Protection of the Rights of Mental Patients in Therapy

June/July 1976: First newsletter distributed by Julian Barnett. He described how his own ideas in early 1976 had been stimulated and developed by Alan Saint of the Patients Protection Law Committee, with the result that a workable plan for PROMPT emerged.
    "PROMPT would now like to bring together individuals and groups of people whose main aim are, or will be, to protect the rights of mental patients, and to form ourselves into one massive pressure group to lobby MPs, inform "mental patients" about what really is going on, vis-a-vis the true nature of their "treatments", to bring together all our experiences and to say with one voice 'Psychiatry belongs not in the realm of medicine - but more in the realm of politics'."
PROMPT MANIFESTO (Draws on Fish Pamphlet and MPU Declaration of Intent)

PROMPT Booklet Number Six: Includes "A Day in the Life" account by a patient in Essex Hall (pages 13-20) and "For Discussion: Right to Refuse Medical Treatment. Medical Treatment (Refusal) Act...1979? (pages 27-28). Back Cover "PROMPT HUMAN RIGHTS INTO THE 1980s CAMPAIGN "DOWN WITH DEGRADING AND INHUMAN TREATMENTS"

Saturday 23.8.1980 "Do You Get It? It Could Happen to You! - PROMPT is Organising a Conference on Anti-Psychiatry at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London, W.C.1. Saturday 23rd August (10 am- 10pm) 50p Claimants etc/ £1 Others"


A Lawletter report on the meeting of PROMPT which took place at the Prince Albert Public House, Wharfdale Road, N1 at 7.15 pm on Saturday 16th January 1982. By Joan Hughes.

Julian Barnet introduced the meeting, stating that PROMPT (Promotion of the Rights of 'Mental Patients' in Therapy) is a strictly ant-psychiatry group. He said that psychiatry does not aim to change society. PROMPT believes that society is at fault fro many people's messed up lives (that is to say, those people labelled in various ways as 'mentally ill'). Some of us do not agree with the role we are supposed to play in society - and then are told, "You are ill and ought to see a doctor". If we don't go quietly, we are then taken by force to a mental hospital - where one is not free but is in a very controlled situation (subject to drugs, E.C.T., and other treatments even if not in a locked ward). Julian gave a brief account of the side- effects of drugs and E.C.T.

The meeting was called together to form an action group against psychiatry. Various groups throughout the country are working against psychiatry, but they are not acting together. This is one reason why the movement is weak. Houses where people who are 'freaked-out' can go were advocated. Previous houses like this have fallen apart - PROMPT thinks this is because they have not had a political base.

After the introduction, various people gave their opinions, and it was evident that there was some divergence of opinion about where the group should proceed; the common denominator among people at the meeting being that they were opposed to psychiatry.

There was some discussion about housing. People gave accounts of their experiences. Often Councils offered 'medical housing' to 'vulnerable people'. These council flats were often substandard, at the top of tower blocks, had broken windows, or were on 'slum estates', and were often the sort of accommodation that 'ordinary people' on the housing list would not accept. Most people who had this sort of experience of council housing thought that 'squatting' was preferable.

Someone else questioned the use of 'society', and said we should not blame other people, including doctors, who are also in 'strait-jackets', but said that we should blame the bourgeoisie of this country. A discussion on class followed, including some discussion of the theories of Laing and Janov.

Most people at the meeting then decided to discuss some sort of practical action. There followed a discussion about the new Mental Health (Amendment) Bill. Most people have not yet studied these proposals thoroughly, but, in general, were opposed to the giving of treatment without consent to patients on a 28-day section, and to the increased powers proposed by the Bill for transferring the status of an informal (so called voluntary) patient to that of a formally detained patient.

Mixed Emotions: A Collection of Angry and Peaceful Poetry Produced in the summer of 1982, and subsequently revised an re-printed a number of times. Foreword signed by Frank Bangay and Julian Barnett

1983 Kent PROMPT 'Declaration of Principles' (As set out in Toronto, Canada in May 1982) - two pages

Matthew O'Hara Committee: For Civil Liberties and community Care

Established in August 1980 after the death of Matthew O'Hara, an ex-mental hospital inmate who, with others, had worked for human rights to be extended to all human beings: including mental patients.

Matthew O'Hara Committee News 2. Summer 1981

The Phoenix Patients' Collective

Phoenix Cooperative Mental Patients' Publication. [no date] Autumn 1983?

Issue two: Phoenix Cooperative People and Psychiatry. [no date] 1984?

Issue three: Phoenix Cooperative Mental Patients' Publication. [no date] 1994?



Hackney Mental Health Action Group was formed in the summer of 1984 by local patients, ex-patients and other people sympathetic to the aims of increasing the self-determination of mentally distressed people in Hackney. These provisional rules were drafted at meetings in the spring of 1985 and are now (August 1985) being circulated to members for further consideration.

NAME The name of the association is Hackney Mental Health Action Group.

AIMS 1. To enhance the individual and collective capacity to cope with and alleviate mental distress

2. To reduce and eliminate the inequalities created through the experience of mental distress and the fear felt by those unfamiliar with it

3. To campaign for resources for those suffering from mental distress and for their involvement in the transformation of existing services

4. To minimize dependence on professional services and to promote alternatives to the medical model of "mental illness"

5. To promote the greatest self-determination of those suffering mental distress on the basis of informed and realistic choice.

MEMBERSHIP Membership is open to any past or present user of the psychiatric services or other interested person sympathetic to the aims of the group.

MEETING ATTENDANCE Any past or present user of the psychiatric services or other interested person is welcomed to meetings; but professionals must first be invited by the group.

MEETINGS General meetings of the association shall be held as often as the association shall decide, but at least once in every twelve months. The General Meetings may form such committees as are considered necessary to the aims and business of the association, and such committees shall be accountable to the General Meeting.

OFFICERS The officers of the association shall be its Secretary and Treasurer and such other officers as the General meeting shall from time to time decide.

VOTING Decisions at any meeting or committee of the association shall be by the majority vote of those members present.

ALTERATIONS TO THE RULES These rules may be added to, amended or altered by a majority decision of the members present at a General Meeting of the Association.

Fund Raising Benfits for PROMPT and CAPO Frank Bangay booked poets and musicians to perform. Flyers were mostly done by Mike Lawson. The last few were done by Laura Margolis (now Laura Wilson). Julian Barnett, Eric Irwin and Barry Blazeby were active organisers.

The events started in the summer of 1984 at the Metropolitan Pub in Farringdon.

In 1985 they moved to the Troubadour coffee house in Earl's Court, where they were held on a regular basis (about one a month) until 1987, when Eric Irwin died.

They resumed in 1989 at the Rose and Hacker Centre in Kentish Town, where they continued until the end of 1990. They were an inspiration on the founding of Survivor's Poetry in 1991

MIND Annual Conference 1984 (London)

A group of service users from the Link clubs of Glasgow Association for Mental Health gave a presentation 'Life after Mental Illness'. This was the first time that service users had done this at a Mind Annual Conference and their motivation had come from attending the 1983 conference at which no service users gave any presentations or ran any workshops. The presentation, which had an enormous impact, was in the form of a tape-slide programme in which six service users spoke of their experiences and this was interspersed with their comments on key issues such as policy, discrimination and employment. After the presentation all six service users answered questions from conference delegates.

The six service users were - Christine Cowan, Vince Edkins, Thomas 'Tam' Graham, John McManus, Elvira Roffey and Charlie Reid. Charlie Reid subsequently had a day centre in Glasgow named after him.

Peter Campbell (2005) wrote "In the summer of 1985, service user activists from the United Kingdom met activists from other countries at the Mind/World Federation of Mental Health Congress in Brighton, a coming together that underlined the potential for collective campaigning in this country. That autumn's Annual Mind Conference in Kensington Town Hall was the first national mental health event at which service users made a significant contribution to the programme. The following year, in January 1986, Survivors Speak Out, the first national network for service users involved in action, was established. At this time, Nottingham Patients' Council Support Group was beginning its work, pioneering collective and individual advocacy. By the end of 1987, National Voices, a service user network within the National Schizophrenia Fellowship (now Rethink) and Mindlink, a similar network within Mind, were up and running and Survivors Speak Out had organised the first national conference of service user activists over a weekend at Edale Youth Hostel. It could well be said that something exciting was beginning to get underway".

Frank Bangay on CAPO (Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression) which was formed out of PROMPT in March 1985

"In 1985 we" [Eric Irwin and Frank"] "achieved a lot together. In March of that year we changed our name to CAPO - Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression - so we could free ourselves from the "mental patient" tag, and with the help of a few others we started to win CAPO some credibility. During the summer we attended, uninvited, the Mental Health 2000 conference in Brighton. It was there that we met the Dutch antipsychiatry movement, invited over by MIND. They helped us a lot, and we brought to MIND's notice that no British recipients had been invited to MIND's conferences, yet there were many professionals talking about the "mentally ill"

Throughout the year we worked together, organising many successful fund- raising benefits of poetry and music, most at the Troubadour coffee house in Earl's Court, London. This was the main way of raising funds and it helped us to establish CAPO. The year ended with a successful workshop at the MIND conference. We titled the workshop "Who are the Consumers?, putting forward that the consumers are those who benefit from having someone psychiatrised, whatever the reason might be - workplaces, schools, families, the army, and so on. We said that we did not chose to consume psychiatry. Eric said he felt as much a consumer of psychiatry as a woodlouse would consider itself to be a consumer of Rentakill services. We suggested "recipient" as a more neutral word, but sadly the point wasn't really understood, as we are still often described as the "consumer movement". However, we did at least create and impact with our workshop.

CAPO MANIFESTO - A development of the PROMPT manifesto, was available by the time of the World Mental Health Conference

World Mental Health Conference, Mental Health 2000, held in Brighton from 14.7.1985 to 19.7.1985. Judi Chamberlin attended as a speaker.

16.7.1985 Clients participation in Psychiatric Hospitals. Introduction by Hans Wiegant, chairman of the National Organisation for Inhabitants Councils in the Mental Health Care in the Netherlands, gives a history of the Dutch organisation going back to 1970.

Charter Mental Health 2000. Brighton Declarations on the Rights of Mentally Ill People and the promotion of Mental Health.

Speaking from Experience - 1985

A video about user involvement, in two parts:

  1. User involvement in the United Kingdom - Reporting on Coventry Crisis Intervention Centre - Libra Self-help Groups - Link/Glasgow Association for Mental Health - North Derbyshire Mental Health Services Project - Overview of Advocacy.

  2. User involvement in Holland - Reporting on Patients' Councils - Patient Advocates - Clients' Union - NUTS housing scheme.

First shown by Thurstine Basset at the 1985 World Congress of Mental Health in Brighton, England. The video was made by ESCATA and part funded by the Kings Fund.

The video was subsequently used as an aid in the setting up of patient's councils in Nottingham and Newcastle in 1986.

MIND Annual Conference 1985
'From Patients to People'
28.11.1985 and 29.11.1985
Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London, W8

For the first time MIND targeted their annual conference on service users, who were the key target group to attend. Key service user activists gave presentations (Peter Campbell, David Brandon and Service Users from Link/Glasgow) and others ran workshops. There were workshops from CAPO (Campaign against Psychiatric Oppression), The British Network of Alternatives to Psychiatry, North Derbyshire Mental Health Services Project (Tontine Road Centre), 42nd Street in Manchester and Camden Mental Health Consortium. (Tessa Jowell, then Assistant Director at MIND, also ran a workshop).

Items in Thurstine Bassett's collection include copies of the programmes

Was this the beginning of something new or a new beginning for something that had been growing for a long time?

1985/1986 Entertainments: Frank Bangay organised poetry and music gigs for the MIND Conferences in 1985 and 1986. The 1985 one (about four hours) was held in a pub near Oxford Circus. (The conference was at Kensington Town Hall). The 1986 one (about the same time) took place in a pub in Parsons Green, Fulham. (The conference was at Hammersmith)

Asylum A Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry.

Quarterly? 1989 rate £3.20p for 4 issues. Cheques payable to ASYLUM, c/o Professor F. A. Jenner, O Floor, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, S10 2JF.

Listing of some issues:

Vol.1 no.1 Spring 1986.
Vol.1 no.2 Summer 1986
Vol.1 no.3 Autumn 1986

Vol.3 nos 1+3 (Summer 1988 + April 1989)

Vol. 4 no 1 (October 1989)

Vol.4 no 4 Autumn 1990

Vol.6 no.2 (Spring 1992)
Vol.6 no.3 (labeled 2) (Summer 1992)
Vol.6 no.4 autumn 1992 contains Helen Spandler's article

Vol.7 no.1 (Winter 1992/1993)
Vol.7 no.2 (Spring 1993)
Vol.7 no.3 (Summer 1993) Psychiatry in the Third Reich
Vol.7 no.4 (Autumn 1993) All Survivor Issue. Diana Her Survivor Story.

Vol.10 no.3 Winter 1997/1998
Asylum has now been in continuous production for twenty years. This is a link to its website

Survivors Speak Out

January 1986

Survivors Speak Out was founded in 1986 by a group of mental health service users and workers. The term survivor was chosen to portray a positive image of people in distress and people whose experience differs from, or who dissent from, society's norms. The main aim is to promote self advocacy.

Two CAPO booklets produced in 1986

Brain Burns by David L. Richman M.D. (Dr Caligari) - A C.A.P.O Publication Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression. A four page reprint from The History of Shock Treatment by Leonard Roy Frank. (USA). The CAPO cover was designed by Mike Lawson.

What They Teach In Song - Poetry About Psychiatric Experience £1 Poems by Frank Bangay, Cheryl Moskowitz, Richard McKane, Eric Irwin, Hilary Porter, Joe Bidder, Richard Byrt, Francis Marnell, Mike Lawson, Terence Walpole, Rosette Rosenberg. Steve Brewer, Nick Simons, Peter Campbell. Revisions were anticipated and contributions were solicited to "Frank, 28a Edgar House". The cover was by Mike lawson. Drawings by Mike Goldman. Typesetting by Barry Blazeby

Both in the Frank Bangay collection

New Musical Express debate

A member of the "Band of Holy Joy" ("LB") gave an interview to New Musical Express (16.6.1987) in which he spoke of his experience as a psychiatric nurse and was critical of patient treatment. Tony Rimbaud of Carshalton, Surrey, responded in defence of psychiatric treatment (20.6.1987) and Frank Bangay responded to this in criticism of it from The Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression


In (January 1988?) Jan Wallcraft was employed in MIND's national office to set up ways in which people with direct experience of psychiatric services could have a bigger say in MIND. The main way she tried to make this happen was by setting up a network of recipients or users of psychiatric services. (Progress report after the first three years - January 1991)

Disability Now May 1988

"Mind, the mental health charity, has set up a national "consumer" network of more than 350 members who have had personal experience of mental hospitals. Their views will help influence Mind's future policies at an important time when more and more mental hospitals are closing and the future of "community care" is still being debated. Anyone interested in joining the network should contact Jan Wallcraft, Mind, 22 Harley Street, London, W1N 2ED tel: 01-637 0741."

MINDWAVES The Newsletter of the MIND Consumer Network

Issue 1 August 1988
Issue 2 December 1988

MINDWAVES The Newsletter of MINDLINK, The MIND Consumer Network (Printed)

Issue 3 Spring 1989
Issue 4 Summer 1989
Double Issue 5+6 Autumn/Winter 1989/1990

Issue 7 Spring 1990
Issue 8 Summer 1990

Mindlink South East Steering Group minutes 14.11.1990. Present: Jan Wallcraft, Edna Collins, Ann Neeter, Lisa Heywood. Apologies: Marion Beeforth.

Double Issue 9/10 Autumn/Winter 1990/1991
Double Issue 11/12 Spring/Summer 1991
Double Issue 13/14 Autumn/Winter 1991/1992

Issue 15 Summer 1992 includes "One thing well" about Valerie Argent
Issue 16 Spring 1993

1988 Mind the Gap Theatre Company - an inclusive theatre group for actors with and without a learning disability - founded. (external link to history). One of its founding members is Anna-Marie Heslop, who has since appeared on The Bill and who wil appear in The Doctors in October 2006 - (external link)

1989 CAPO took part in the "Anarchist's Book Fair" at Conway Hall

Spring/summer 1990 "Rhythm of Struggle - Song of Hope" CAPO Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression. £1.50. "a collection of articles, poems and drawings composed and put together by members of CAPO". Foreword dated October 1989

Frank Bangay collection

From a November 2003 Arts Council paper Celebrating disability arts

Survivors' Poetry

In the early years, campaigning organisations such as the Campaign Against Psychiatric Oppression (CAPO) and Survivors Speak Out were providing a voice for people with mental distress, and ran fundraising events with music and poetry performers.

Then in 1991 a new organisation, called Survivors' Poetry, was started by a group of poets - Frank Bangay, Peter Campbell, Hilary Porter and Joe Bidder - who had met through CAPO. The organisation was immediately successful. 'There was enormous demand,' says Bidder. 'Our original venue was too small, and people were just overflowing on to the street.' The group soon employed an outreach worker, who developed a pack giving guidelines for setting up a survivors' poetry group. New groups were formed in Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol and further afield.

Today [2003] it is a truly national charity with more than 2,500 members and more than 30 groups across the UK. Indeed, it might even claim to be an international organisation - with supporters based as far afield as the United States and Australia - and members across Europe too.

Though Survivors' Poetry was specifically set up as a literature organisation rather than therapy group, it was undoubtedly having a positive effect on people. 'Suddenly people's skills were being valued; their lives were changed', Bidder explains. These days, the focus of Survivors' Poetry's work has expanded, with an emphasis on publishing in the form of the flagship magazine Poetry Express, as well as various pamphlets and anthologies.

In 1997 the group produced the anthology Beyond Bedlam. This consisted of a mixture of general survivors' poetry, work by famous poets who had experienced mental distress, such as John Clare and T S Eliot, and work by living poets who might not be known to the public as survivors. Bidder states that, 'It did away with a taboo in the literary world. All these famous poets saying, "I've been in the bin too."'A first print run of 5,000 copies sold out within five months. 'The book had favourable reviews in every single broadsheet paper. It was a transforming moment.'

The Survivors' Poetry structure may seem similar to DAFs, but Colin Hambrook, who was involved with Survivors' Poetry from a very early stage, disagrees: 'There are huge differences, because a lot of what the DAFs do is about working with mainstream organisations. Survivors groups are about small numbers of people supporting and assisting each other in their creative work. They are almost like self-help groups.'

Well into its second decade of life, and now in receipt of major Arts Council funding, Survivors' Poetry looks set to continue expanding its field of operation for some time to come.

"Survivors' Poetry is a national literature and perfomance charity. Set up in 1992 [1991?] by four poets with first-hand exprience of the mental health system, Survivors' Poetry now (2006) comprises a network of of 28 groups and more than 2,000 members world-wide. Current address: Survivors' Poetry, Studio 11, Bickerton House, 25-27 Bickerton Road, Archway, N19 5JT London. Telephone: 02072 814 654 website:

Reviews of Poetry Express 21 - 22 - 23

2005 The Arts Council cut (completely?) the funding to Survivors' Poetry (effective from April 2006) - See news 23.8.2005
In 2006, the group set up a website: See archive

25.4.2006 Radio 4 interview with Joe Bidder and Professor Femi Oyebode

April 1995 Under The Asylum Tree A Survivors' Poetry anthology, published. It includes: an introduction by Georg MacDonald and works by Billy Childish - Michael Horovitz (A Parody of 'On Westminster Bridge') - Isha "When" - Jade Reidy - Martin Henderson "The Sanctuary in North London" - Patrick McManus "Great Day for my Suicide" - Ian Jentle "But I don't want a Dog" - Val Stein "After all, they are size six and a half" - Kim Christopher "Sink City"

Denise Greene collection


Westfield Association
Full web archive

About Autumn 2003: life and living "Resonance Radio programme made principally by and for psychiatric service users featuring music, arts and interviews" established

website - about life and living - archive of programmes

Whispers from The Offing is a collection of songs by various artists paying homage to four decades of Kevin Coyne's music

The History of Mental Health Service User/Survivor Movement Group first met in January 2005 - Following a meeting in November 2004

The group launched its Manifesto in January 2006

Manifesto - we, as a group, aim to:

Be committed to learning from history

Value and celebrate the contribution that mental health service users/survivors have made and are making to that history

Highlight the diversity of service users/survivors in all its expressions

Highlight the diversity and creativity of the service user/survivor contribution through personal accounts, writings, poetry, art, music, drama, photography, campaigning, speaking, influencing...

Collect, collate and preserve service user/survivor history

Make service user/survivor history accessible to all who are interested in or studying mental health

Use our history to inform and improve the future

Operate as an independent group. The independence of any archive we set up is necessary to prevent limited access to such a resource and to expose the deliberate loss of history - in particular the lived experience of psychiatric system survivors.

Be service user/survivor-led with a steering group made up of a majority of service users/survivors with some interested and co-opted allies

The history of individuals is the root of the service user/survivor movement

We agreed that the group would -

  • Say no to funding from drug companies

  • Be controlled by service users

  • Ensure easy access to any archives we create particularly for service users and members of the public

  • Reserve the right to comment on histories (of the movement) written by non-service users

  • Respond to articles/histories written by others about the history of the service user movement - and about the history of mental health services written from a service user perspective.

  • Encourage wider dissemination of the groups work and make as much material as possible available electronically

  • Acquire materials from the full range of people involved in the mental health service user movement including minority groups

  • Acquire material through loans and donations but when possible we will also purchase material.

  • Ensure that any historical materials or resources are kept safe kept safe and insured. We will also seek to develop the capacity/skills to repair any material that we acquire.

  • Develop a publications policy

  • Our basic founding principle is that service users own their history

  • Be conscious that we are making history as we work and seek to record the activities of the group

    History of the History Group

    In November 2004, Thurstine Bassett and Peter Lindley organised a general meeting about service user history at the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

    Arising out of this, the first meeting of the History of Mental Health Service User/Survivor Movement Group was called in January 2005

    Meetings have been held on an (approximately) three-monthly basis since then. Meetings are minuted and an email mailing list, and some word of mouth, keeps members informed between meetings. Attendance of members at meetings has fluctuated greatly. At the October 2006 meeting it was minuted that "a fair amount has been done but an awful lot more needs doing".

    The group has attended three main conferences: In September 2005 - March 2006 - September 2006

    We participated in a mental health training conference in September 2005. This was the Annual Mental Health Training and Education conference at ORT House in Camden Town. We put on an exhibition and Thurstine Bassett and Peter Campbell ran a workshop on teaching history of service user action.

    During 2005, the group drew up its Manifesto, which outlines its aims. This was published in January 2006.

    There was then an exhibition of material on the Together stall at the Mind conference in March 2006

    Also in the Spring of 2006 we adapted an existing website on the history of mental patients unions to become this draft history of the movement.

    Recently, a history of the group was published in Open Mind and has stimulated correspondence.

    The presentation we gave to open the Coming of Age Conference on Wednesday 6.9.2006 (detailed elsewhere) covered the whole period of the modern movement (1970s on). The first part, by Joan Hughes, has now been included on the web. Peter Campbell and Claire Ockwell are working on a version of their parts for the web.

    It has been agreed that the group needs to move forward in three key areas - (The website should report progress)

  • Archiving Working out what we want to collect - making copies of key documents - listing where collections are and what they contain.

  • An exhibition This might be held in Together's exhibition space. Designing the exhibition would bring together key documents which should be catalogued and copied, wherever possible.

  • Fund raising for an archivist
  • Spring 2006 Some things you should know about user/survivor action: a Mind resource pack by Peter Campbell
    by Peter Campbell "This pack explains how and why the service user/survivor movement developed, what activists have been fighting for, what action they have taken, and what the movement has achieved. The pack is principally aimed at those who are not part of the movement, but whose work within the fringes of mental health services brings them into contact with it. Current activists will also find it an interesting (and perhaps provocative) read"

    8.3.2006 "Our Future Conference" in Birmingham. Organised by Together and the Mental Health Foundation

    The papers from this include a paper by Jan Wallcraft called On Our Own Terms with proposals for setting up a "National User Network".

    This statement by David Crepaz-Keay, the afternoon chair of the Conference, gives some idea of what it was about.

    "There has never been so much high quality service user involvement at a local level. People are involved in ways and activities that would not have seemed possible ten years ago. The people at this conference represent a snapshot of a huge volume of work that service users are doing day in and day out, predominantly on a voluntary basis.

    "Every month new groups spring up, new problems are encountered and new challenges overcome. At any one time, a group will be struggling with something that many others will have already solved. Our goal is to link these individuals and local groups together, so that the vast experience being built up can be of benefit to all.

    "We would like to build a national network of groups and individuals to help achieve this. This is not a new idea, nor is it our idea, rather it is another step on a journey started many years ago and continued by Survivors Speak Out, UKAN, On Our Own Terms and many others.

    "For too long the mental health world has been held back by the absence of an effective way to co-ordinate our energies and efforts; a way of learning from our combined successes and failures and responding quickly to the outside world. Over the next ten years, mental health services and the voluntary sector will change beyond recognition and we need to ensure that service users, as individuals and groups, are not left on the sidelines but are central to that change in all-over diversity."

    Speak Out! Mental Health History Project originated with Woodview Community Association with the proposals they put to the national lottery fund about January 2006. Support (and some funding) was gathered from the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust, particularly from its diversity directorate (which includes services to black and ethnic minority communities in Birmingham).

    Pete Bloomer started work as coordinator in early July 2006. His contract ends in July 2007.

    The project includes using service users/survivors as volunteers, as well as employing (paying) users/survivors as assistants. It aims that a high proportion of the volunteers should be afro-caribbean.

    A major aim is to produce an exhibition. This exhibition will be at Woodview Community Association (or a nearby library?) for its first three months, from May 2007, and then tour venues for another twenty one months.

    The other major aim is to put the project's work on a website. The website will remain available at least for five years with the provision to update it and for it to grow.

    Volunteers and assistants are being trained in recording oral history interviews, doing research using library resources and mental health awareness.

    The discipline of Oral History provides a method to record the experiance of individuals and to build a picture of the the general viewpoint of people on the mental health services.

    Speak Out has spoken to several service user groups, at daycentres and User Voice Forums. They have done a number of stalls at mental health events in Birmingham. The most successful stall was at the World Mental Health Day event in Birmingham organised by the Positive Mental Health Group, where they distributed over 1,000 leaflets and got over 60 contacts. Altogether, they have distributed over 5,000 leaflets, have a mailing list of around 250 and, via Birmingham Mental Health Trust, have sent out communications to over 3,000 workers.

    The messages of the project should be to begin the process of recording and writing a history of people's experience of mental health in Birmingham - That our history is important - That services should be based on the experiences and wishes of service users - That service providers should take note of our experiences and seek to improve services - That there has been a variety of approaches to service provision which might be learned from in terms of service users/survivors experiences of them. That in particular the experience of the Black community as service users; has been too harsh and punitive, (tarnished as it is by racism) and that its contribution to service provision as a large component of the workforce has been under valued and not considered important enough by those planning service provision.

    Boards planned for Birmingham Exhibition

    Two boards with a timeline of the twentieth century, legislation and major events affecting mental health charted beside the timeline. Specifically charting changes in mental health services in Birmingham. [See, for example, 8.7.1911 - Fluphenazine - Birmingham Scandal - -

    A board on each of the three significant historic sites in Birmingham: - All Saints - Highcroft - The Rubery Hill and Hollymoor site.

    A board explaining and illustrating the significance of the change brought about by Care in the Community - [See Fluphenazine - Birmingham Scandal - ]

    A "horrible history" of 20th century treatments of mental illness. For example, the use of mercury, lobotomies, drilling holes in the skull, ECT, aversion therapy as treatment for homosexuality seen as a mental illness until 1958.

    Brief histories of Mental Health Services established to support the black and minority ethnic communities in Birmingham.

    Definition of mental illness - different people's definitions and how the definition and terminology has changed through the twentieth century. (The history of language on mental health is a measure of the cultural history and history of common (mis)understanding on mental health).

    Police and admissions. Using information from the website section.

    The image of mental health services, material developed around mental health and stigma surrounding mental illness.

    Slavery and its ongoing impact on black people and mental health

    "Why Black people suffer more from mental health problems" or .... do Black people suffer more from mental health problems?

    Drugs and mental health.

    Cause and effect - vox pops of peoples views.

    A board or display which lists clips from the Oral History interviews we have recorded and selected. Listing the subject of those clips, something about the person who gave the interview, and giving the facility for the visitor to press a button to play that clip. (with headphones).

    Leicester University Wednesday 6.9.2006 to Thursday 7.9.2006 MIND Conference: Coming of Age (external link) : "Twenty one years on from Mind's national conference in 1985, where service users were given an equal share of the platform for the first time, this 24-hour conference has been devised, directed and will be totally comprised of delegates and speakers who are service users and survivors"

    The conference began with a comprehensive history of the United Kingdom mental health survivors movement by three members of the History of Mental Health Service User/Survivor Movement Group. We plan to include all of this on this website. The first part (1970s), by Joan Hughes, is already here. The second part, by Peter Campbell, took the story forward through the 1980s and Claire Ockwell brought the story forward to the present.

    Monday 15.1.2007: Represemtatives of the Birmingham based Mental Health History Project , called "Speak Out" met in London with the Mental Health Service Users History Group. Speak out has received 12 months funding to research and produce an exhibition on The History of Mental Health Services in Birmingham in the Twentieth Century (1900 - 2000). This will have a particular focus on the experience of people from the Black and Minority Ethnic communities and their experience of mental health services.

    Top of Page

    Andrew Roberts likes to hear from users:
    To contact him, please use the Communication Form

    The first part of this web history is based on the content of papers from the Mental Patients Union and related groups in the care of Andrew Roberts. Helen Spandler's book, Asylum to Action, provides a recent account of the early history of this group. Peter Campbell's history includes later groups. The Survivor/User History Group is working on a full history that will appear on this page.

    Asylum to Action -
    Paddington Day Hospital , Therapeutic Communities and Beyond by Helen Spandler

    Some things you should know about user/survivor action: a Mind resource pack
    by Peter Campbell


    Asylum (magazine) - 1986

    Birmingham Mental Health History

    Brian Douieb



    Eric Irwin

    Frank Bangay

    Hearing Voices - 1988

    History group - 2004 - 2005

    Leslie Mitchell

    Life and Living - 2003

    Liz Durkin

    Mad Pride - 1999

    MIND Consumers Network - 1988

    National User Network

    People not Psychiatry

    Poetry - 1913 - 1916 - 1985 - 1986 - 1989/1990 - 1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1999 -


    Self Harm - 1989 - 1994 - 1995

    Speak Out Mental Health History - Birmingham - 2006 - 2007 -

    Survivors Speak Out - 1986

    Survivors Poetry - 1991

    "We proclaim the dignity of society's so-called mental patients"

    1973 and ever onwards