The Icarus Project celebrates a decade of redefining mental health
Mental health professionals, along with other non-professionals who were a part of Occupy Wall Street, formed the Support working group to intervene when people seemed to be in crisis and patrol the park at night. But Jonah Bossewitch, a member of the working group and one of the editors of Mindful Occupation, said that the broad critique of society and authority present in most of Occupy didn't always extend to Support.
"Nobody was going to go to the cops after people got into a fight. Yet people were getting forced treatment and psych evaluations, " Bossewitch said. "Folks are ready to critique the outside world — capitalism, banks — but it's way harder to look in at their own profession."
For DuBrul, the emotional tensions that played out at Occupy, as well as the trauma of police beatings, jail, and exposure to chemicals, proved the need to continue and grow The Icarus Project.
"If you know how you are when you're well, it's much easier to get back there," said DuBrul said. "I'm telling you, a movement full of people, an Occupy movement full of people that have a sense of how they are when they're well, then it's much easier to work towards what it is that you want. If you're operating from a place where you're having a really hard time, it's much harder to get to where you're going."
So where is Icarus going? They hope to formalize the mentorship and education that has already happened, borrowing in some ways from the "sponsorship" approach that groups like Alcoholics Anonymous take.
"We started with a vision of creating a new language and culture about what gets considered mental illness," DuBrul said. "It's alright to be 'mad' and still be brilliant."
The schedule of Icarus anniversary events is available at www.theicarusproject.net/10thanniversary