Alternative ways of thinking

For lack of a better term, I will collect here information on projects and models for alternative ways of thinking about what is going on when we are labeled as mentally ill or mad, and alternative kinds of support and conflict resolution outside the mental health system.

Alternatives to the medical model within mental health are not included here.  Some practices may be a hybrid, and I will make a judgment call about whether to include them.

I invite everyone who knows about good projects and models in this vein, or can talk about how you have created your own support and what that looks like, to send me information to be included here.  Send links to your blog or website, or if you don’t have it in that form, describe it in writing and I will publish on this site.

Alternatives to Suicide ‘Historically, people have believed that it was too dangerous to offer peer-to-peer support groups focused on the topic of suicide without a clinician present.  There are many myths and fears around this sort of group and around suicide in general.  However, as a community we have found strength in coming together to talk about many ‘taboo’ topics and to support one another in our times of greatest distress.  Our collective wisdom and individual stories have taught us that the space to come together in this way can be powerful and healing.  It is out of this work and learning that the Alternatives to Suicide approach was born.’


Disability Integration Act (proposed legislation in the US that includes mental and emotional distress issues within independent living framework)

Eindhoven Project – Family Group Conferencing ‘The Eindhoven Model is based on using Family Group Conferencing in psychosocial crisis situations. Instead of executing undesirable interventions, such as forced psychiatric treatments, the aim is to identify a range of desirable solutions on an individual level by Family Group Conferencing. Note that “Family Group” is not limited to family, but refers to friends, neighbours, peers and any important person in one’s life, as in “extended family”. Family Group Conferencing is a voluntary consultation process around a key question.’

Hearing Voices Network ‘The International Hearing Voices Movement consists of the diverse conversations, initiatives, groups and individuals around the world that share some core values. These include: hearing voices, seeing visions and related phenomena are meaningful experiences that can be understood in many ways; hearing voices is not, in itself, an indication of illness – but difficulties coping with voices can cause great distress; when people are overwhelmed by their experiences, support offered should be based on respect, empathy, informed choice and an understanding of the personal meaning voices have in someone’s life.’

Intentional Peer Support ‘is a way of thinking about and inviting transformative relationships. Practitioners learn to use relationships to see things from new angles, develop greater awareness of personal and relational patterns, and support and challenge each other in trying new things.’

Personal Ombud (PO)-Skåne ‘is a concrete example of supported decision-making for persons with mental health problems of the most difficult sort (living entirely in a symbolic world of their own, living barricaded in their apartment or living homeless in the streets).’

The Red Door ‘A doorway into a space that explores the idea that every human being is normal, or conversely, every human being is mad in their own unique way.’