What We Are About
Founded in Oct. 2010 at an interest meeting in Monroe Park in downtown Richmond, Mind(ful) Liberation Project has brought a much-needed radical activist approach to mental well-being to Virginia’s capitol. We work tirelessly in destigmatizing differing mental health concerns, termed “mental illnesses” or “disorders” by the Psychiatric Industrial Complex.With free weekly peer support gatherings that are entirely facilitated by volunteers, we take our health into our own hands and make it okay to be able to openly and frankly tell a friend “I am trying to find a reason to live” or “I feel like I am on top of the world” without fear of being institutionalized or having the police called. We have various events to raise awareness about mental health itself, and to give our community the chance to speak out about their own unique experiences with mental health.
In May 2012, RVA Peer Support was created in response to the need for peer support without any specific political leanings or obligatory themes. With this group offshoot, peer support attendees can now gain support without feeling obligated to talk about politics or their own mental health from a political angle. It was in May 2012 that Mind(ful) Liberation Project became its own separate political entity that solely focuses on radical mental health politics, while RVA Peer Support now encompasses any peer support ventures in Richmond.
Mind(ful) Liberation Project endorses RVA Peer Support and is a proud participant of the Access(ability) Coalition here in Richmond.
Mind(ful) Liberation Project is the Richmond chapter of the Icarus Project. Founded in 2002, the Icarus Project has become an international movement aimed at alternatives to the institutionalized medical model of mental health. The grassroots network of local groups gathers people locally for listening, education, support, mutual aid, art, activism, access to alternatives, and any creative ventures we can dream up.
The Icarus Project is a collaborative, participatory adventure fueled by inspiration and mutual aid. The Icarus vision is brought to reality through an Icarus national staff collective and a grassroots network of autonomous local support groups and Campus Icarus groups across the US and beyond.
Our principles include working beyond the medical model of mental health, educating ourselves about alternatives, balancing wellness and action, non judgment and respect for diversity, non-hierarchy and anti-oppression, nonviolence, and transparency. All Icarus gatherings follow the policy that ‘no one is turned away for lack of funds.’ We work to create options and choices that are available to all.
We envision a new culture and language that resonates with our actual experiences of ‘mental illness’ rather than trying to fit our lives into a conventional framework. We are a network of people living with and/or affected by experiences that are commonly diagnosed and labeled as psychiatric conditions. We believe these experiences are mad gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders. By joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness, creativity, and collaboration can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world. Participation in The Icarus Project helps us overcome alienation and tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.
We are of the opinion that through psychology-related workshops, zines, discussions, and projects that mental health can be achieved without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on therapists, psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists. Indeed, some people may need the extra help from one of these people in times of extreme stress. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline or make an appointment with a specialist if you feel you need to. There is no harm in seeking initial help. It shows courage to ask for it, not weakness.
PEER SUPPORT GATHERINGS
RVA Peer Support holds weekly peer support gatherings rotating between Fridays and Saturdays (specific dates can be found on our community calendar!).
Regular gatherings specifically for emotional support can be a great and empowering alternative to the shackles of professional and mainstream support groups. No one in the group is above anyone else: mutual aid means we listen to and support each other as a community of equals, without paid professionals or staff to define who we are.
Peer support groups are a safe listening space for anyone who attends, no matter their backgrounds or their current struggles. We merely ask that people are respectful of others while also maintaining confidentiality.
We also host radical mental health and awareness-raising events including but not limited to: healthy coping skills workshops, arts and crafts nights, creative writing workshops, peer support facilitator trainings, movie screening nights, mental health discussions and debates, and mental health speak out and fundraising events.
If you are a local organization, group, or community space that would be willing to host our events please let us know.
HOW TO HELP OUT
If you would like to become involved by updating our group’s WordPress site, Facebook page, Twitter, or would like to make flyers, posters, handouts, pamphlets, be a peer support facilitator or Peer Support Line volunteer, please let us know! This is a non-hierarchical chapter, so everyone is equally welcome to become involved, voice their concerns, hopes, dreams, and goals for the group. This is our support system, and we make it out to what we want it to be!
Please check back often!