Mad Pride

Mad Pride is a movement of the users of mental health services, former users, and their allies. The first known event, called ‘Psychiatric Survivor Pride Day’ in Toronto in 1993, was held in response to community prejudices towards individuals with a psychiatric history living in boarding homes in the Parkdale area of the city, and has been held annually since.

By the late 1990s similar events were being organized in London and around the globe according to MindFreedom International, a US mental health advocacy organization. Events often include music, poetry readings, film screenings, and street theater, such as ‘bed push’ protests, which aim to raise awareness about the poor levels of choice of treatments and the widespread use of force in psychiatric hospitals.

Through a series of mass media campaigns, Mad Pride activists seek to re-educate the general public on such subjects as the causes of mental disorders, the experiences of those using the mental health system, and the global suicide pandemic. One of Mad Pride’s founding activists was Pete Shaughnessy, who later committed suicide.

Mad Pride activists seek to reclaim terms such as ‘mad,’ ‘nutter,’ and ‘psycho’ from misuse, such as in tabloid newspapers. In 2008, Gabrielle Glaser documented Mad Pride in ‘The New York Times,’ stating, ‘Just as gay-rights activists reclaimed the word queer as a badge of honor rather than a slur, these advocates proudly call themselves mad; they say their conditions do not preclude them from productive lives.’

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