2016 Press Releases

Academics need to become activists…

18 Apr 2016
Mad Activism has grown out of the long history of the psychiatric service-user/ survivor movement. Photo shows 'The Growth Dome' by artist Eilís O'Connell Image: Nóra Hayes

Alternative ways of dealing with ‘madness’ will be explored in the context of the current bio-psychiatric approaches at University College Cork today, (Monday 18th April).  

The one-day seminar, Mad Activism in Academia: Challenging Traditions, is the first of its kind in an Irish University and has as its theme the fostering of dissent.

Mad Activism has grown out of the long history of the psychiatric service-user/ survivor movement. Such activism has seen the emergence of a substantial body of knowledge in which practices in the field of mental health are being critiqued.  Mad Studies challenge academics to move beyond traditional intellectual activities towards active engagement with social movements.

Advocating and campaigning for the rights of those labelled as mentally ill has now become the last great civil rights movement according to UK mental health activist and keynote speaker, Jacqui Dillon.  She advocates challenging oppressive political structures to improve individuals’ personal experiences, so that the concept of the personal is the political, remains central to notions of recovery and therapeutic processes.

At the seminar delegates will have an opportunity to consider critical questions including:

  • What is the role of universities in addressing social injustices?
  • How can academics form alliances with social movements?
  • How can ‘mad knowledge’ be valued and legitimised within and beyond academia?

The keynote speakers of this event are Jacqui Dillon, mental health activist, national Chair of the Hearing Voices Network England;  Dr Helen Spandler, Mental Health Reader, School of Social Work, Care and Community University of Central Lancashire and Dr Dina Poursanidou, Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College.  The seminar will conclude with a panel discussion with Dina Poursanidou, Helen Spandler, Liz Brosnan (Research Associate, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUIG, Galway), Rory Doody (Recovery Development Advocate, West Cork) and Pat Bracken (Consultant Psychiatrist, West Cork Mental Health Services).

President Higgins recently identified dissent as a core function of universities saying that “universities must be allowed to flourish as spaces which develop that intellectual courage which allows the rejection of exclusive or excluding ideologies, and encourages the seeking of truth from fact and the production of alternative solutions and action.”*

The Seminar is hosted by UCC’s Institute for Social Science is the 21st Century(ISS21) Mental Health and Disability Research Cluster.  The event is supported by the ISS21, the College of Arts Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, the School of Applied Social Studies, the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, UCC.

This is an open invitation free event, however people interested need register a place at:  http://www.eventbrite.com/e/mad-activism-in-academia-challenging-traditions-tickets-23981073035

The seminar will be broadcast live at  http://bit.ly/1VuyCsL



* Read President Higgins’ full speech at the European Universities Association at NUI Galway April 7 http://bit.ly/1VnK0Gk

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF