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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Advocating for the Civil Rights of Consumers with Psychiatric Labels: An Update from the NCIL Mental Health Task Force

Force Is Not Recovery 2012 protest signOn October 17, the NCIL Mental Health Task Force wrote the Chief Officers of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We asked for an accounting of federal funds used for involuntary electroshock. Just like the resolution approved by the NCIL membership, our letter noted “the inherent danger in involuntary treatment in and of itself, as well as the many serious risks specific to electroshock.” Our CMS letter was acknowledged by Marilyn Tavenner, Acting Administrator. We are waiting for a more complete response from both agencies.

Charlie Lakin, Administrator of the National Institutes for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) responded to NCIL’s concerns related to consumer input on its projects. Our work with NIDRR began with a fact sheet for Centers for Independent Living that was insulting to the values of our movement. The NIDRR project heavily edited the document to produce a better resource. In the process, we challenged NIDRR to do a better job with consumer input on its projects. 

Mr. Lakin now invites “people within the NCIL network” to send a letter of interest if you would like to serve on a peer review panel. He noted that it would be helpful to include a brief resume that includes contact information and a brief summary of education, employment, activities, and other relevant information that would help in matching you to a project. You can send your letter of interest to NIDRR-Mailbox@ed.gov or Peer Review Coordinator, NIDRR / 400 Maryland Ave. SW / Washington, DC 20202-2700.

NCIL members have also been working to build ties with organizations within the consumer / survivor / ex-patient / recovery movement. Members did presentations at two movement conferences this fall. The first was the annual conference of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy. The other was Alternatives 2012. We hope to build ties between the movements that will allow us to do better civil rights advocacy. Sending representatives to conferences like these is a good way for NCIL members to aide this effort and improve systems advocacy within your organization.

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