Phoenix Rising: The Voice of the Psychiatrized
(1980 – 1990)
The Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto (PSAT) has made Phoenix Rising, an important zine published by ex-psychiatric inmates. From the letter Myths of Mental Illness by Carla McKague which led to the first issue:
The reason that all of us are here, .you and me, is a gigantic problem. Some of you are aware of the dimensions of the problem; some of you may not be fully aware. Let me start by giving you a little bit of an idea.
Right now, this moment, there are 50,000 Canadians in mental hospitals. Tomorrow, another 30,000 to 50,000 will be showing up either at out-patient clinics or at private psychiatrists’ offices. Every year 130,000 Canadians enter psychiatric institutions, and about two-thirds of them are coming back; they’ve been there before, and they’re back. At least one in ten Canadians can expect at some time in his or her life to spend time in a psychiatric institution. And, to switch to financial terms, the cost of maintaining those
institutions in Canada is approximately a million dollars a day. That’s the size of the problem we’re facing.
Now, I don’t know most of you sitting in front of me. I’m not sure why you’re here as individuals. I can make some guesses. Some of you are people who work professionally in the field of “mental illness”; you may be doctors, nurses or social workers who are concerned about the problem. Some of you are plainly and simply–and importantly–members of the
community who are aware that there’s a problem and would like to help do something about it. Some of you have had the experience yourselves of being patients, or have had someone
in your family have that experience. You’re probably concerned; you’re probably confused; you’re probably not quite sure what it is that’s happened to you, and why it’s happened,
and what you can do about it.