The declaration is NOT an attempt to persuade people of anything they do not already think. There is an awareness that many do not agree that there are fundamental human rights issues at the heart of mainstream mental health services. But, signatories do believe this! The strength of the ERNI declaration is in the number of signatories and in its attempts to make the way we understand human distress and suffering transparent. If you sign the declaration, you join with 100s (and soon, 1000s) of allies who are not willing to engage with practices that do harm. Knowing that we are not alone with this can give us all a little more confidence to say what we want and what we will not tolerate.
We will publish the names of those who have given permission for their signatures to be made public. This will allow others to know we are part of a virtual collective or world wide movement. As a signatory, you may choose to have visible evidence of your position on the medicalisation of human experience and distress, through CERTIFICATION, ELECTRONIC FOOTERS or the use of other digital imagery. As a signatory, you may feel more confident to ask how the person you have sought help from understands you and your experiences and give you the backing to talk about how you wish to be understood.
In signing the ERNI declaration, you are joining with others who are opposed to the medicalisation of human distress.
We support a history and context informed approach to distress that invites everyone to make connections between life events/situations and the various ways distress is expressed. Sense can (and should) be made of distress and we do not need scientifically unsupportable narratives of abnormality to provide explanation. Implicit within this paradigm is a move from ‘Illness & Diagnosis’ to ‘Personal Narrative and Understanding.’ We ask ‘what has happened to you?’ rather than ‘what is wrong with you?’.
We believe in the need for a move away from the concepts of treatment and cure to those involving helping people understand the impact of psychological injury and the role of many different types of adversity.
We believe people experience a range of emotional distress including misery, a sense of failure, despair for the future, self-loathing, worry, loneliness, heart-break (and so on). These things can and do result in great suffering, but they are not illnesses. This medicalisation of distress is largely responsible for the unacceptably ineffective mental health services we currently have.
“From Illness, Diagnosis, Treatment and Cure to Personal Narratives and Understanding.”
In support of the ERNI declaration, Dr Sami Timimi (Author and Consultant Psychiatrist) states, ‘To clear up this abominable mess we must first rid our trainings, services, and culture of the pseudo-science that has delivered the diabolical outcomes we have where services are better at creating long term patients, being slowly poisoned by neurotoxins erroneously labelled ‘medication’, than alleviating understandable distress.’
Whilst, as ERNI minded users of services and professionals, we do not understand distress as illness, and drugs as 'treatment', we recognise that many individuals have been prescribed psychoactive medications that are unsafe to withdraw from without medical support. The declaration does not endorse the withdrawal from prescribed psychoactive drugs without professional guidance and support. We hope that the declaration will encourage robust dialogue across people's lives and the services they access.
As ERNI minded individuals, we recognise that hearing and telling the stories of using and working in the field of mental health can be incredibly helpful to others. If you would be interested in sharing your experiences, please email email@example.com for information about how this may be facilitated.
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