We are a loose team of peer advocates, radical social workers, folks from the street/action medic community, bodyworkers, therapists, and others that feel drawn to doing mental and emotional health support around the Occupy/Decolonize movement.

In September 2011, the Occupy Wall Street protests erupted in response to the growing social and economic injustice that The Icarus Project and many of our allies have been resisting since it started. More and more people are recognizing how Mad the world has become. Many Icaristas have been closely involved with their local Occupy movements and have been actively engaged in a range of working groups and actions. Many of us have found strong allies among the Safety Clusters – focusing on offering social and emotional support to help sustain the community from within. This work is both rewarding and strategic, as it is incredibly powerful to apply the language and values of The Icarus Project, in context. We have been starkly reminded of how much work remains ahead of us, as most occupiers are trapped within the confines of mainstream diagnoses when describing and judging each other’s behavior. We desperately need to introduce and spread languages of compassion.

In response to these needs, a group of Icaristas, Mad Pride activists, and Occupiers from around the country, have been remotely collaborating a zine that is meant as both a resource and an intervention.  The zine is called Mindful Occupation: Rising Up WIthout Burning Out and it includes curated content from across the web, as well as a trove of original material. The zine begins with a chapter that explains “What is Radical Mental Health?” as well as chapters that explicitly connect the the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatric establishment with the larger message of Occupy.  We discuss the importance of self-care, mutual aid, coping skills in times of stress, and also include material about first aid for emotional trauma, navigating crisis, and healing from and preventing sexual assault. We hope that this material will be used to help facilitate teach-ins, skill-shares, and peer-support groups to help sustain the movement over the long term.

Related groups and resources:

OWS Field Guide – General purpose #ows field guide. Emotional Support working group should probably be added here once we get farther along.

owsmentalhealth@lists.mayfirst.org – Mailing list for NYC social and emotional supporters who are on the ground at zucotti, taking shifts offering support (NOTE: owsmentalhealth is a different mailing list from occupymentalhealth).

SaferSpacesOWS – SaferSpaces working group (NYC only?)

occupytechnology.org – Techies and techie resources supporting the protests