Icarus Project Mission StatementSubmitted by Icarus Project on Tue, 10/10/2006 - 6:22pm
OUR MISSION: The Icarus Project is a radical mental health support network, online community, and alternative media project by and for people struggling with extreme emotional distress that often gets labeled as mental illness. We envision a new culture and language that resonates with our actual experiences rather than trying to fit our lives into a conventional framework. We believe these experiences are dangerous gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders. By joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness, creativity, and collaboration can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world. Participation in The Icarus Project helps us overcome alienation and tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.
OUR VISION: Together, we seek new space and freedom for extreme states of consciousness. We support alternatives to the medical model and acknowledge the traumatic legacy of psychiatric abuse. We recognize that we all live in a crazy world, and believe that sensitivities, visions, and inspirations are not necessarily symptoms of illness. Sometimes breakdown can be the entrance to breakthrough. We call for more options in understanding and treating emotional distress, and we advocate for everyone, regardless of income, to have access to these choices. We respect diversity and embrace harm-reduction and self-determination in treatment decisions. Everyone is welcome, whether they support the use of psychiatric drugs or not, and whether they identify with diagnostic categories or not. To ensure we remain honest and untamed, we do not accept funding from pharmaceutical companies. We invite anyone who shares the Icarus vision and principles to join us, and choose "The Icarus Project" or any other name for the independent efforts that inspire them.
OUR WORK: The Icarus Project is a collaborative, participatory adventure fueled by inspiration and mutual aid. We bring the Icarus vision to reality through a national organizing collective and a grassroots network of autonomous local and campus groups. The Icarus collective supports the Icarus vision and serves and nourishes local groups by: facilitating a website community, distributing publications, educating the public, offering tools, sharing skills, creating art, engaging in advocacy and activism, enhancing community capacities, offering technical assistance, providing inspiration and solidarity, and taking care of national housekeeping tasks. The grassroots network of local groups gathers people locally for listening, education, support, mutual aid, art, activism, access to alternatives, and any creative ventures they can dream up. Campus Icarus groups consist of students who see a need on their campus to organize a community committed to expanding the dialogue around student mental health, providing peer support alternatives to school counseling center services, developing activist campaigns, creating art, and engaging in nontraditional academic exploration of “psy”-subjects.
Beyond the medical model. While we respect whatever treatment decisions people make, we challenge standard definitions of psychic difference as essentially diseased, disordered, broken, faulty, and existing within the bounds of DSM-IV diagnosis. We are exploring unknown territory and don't steer by the default maps outlined by docs and pharma companies. We're making new maps.
Educating ourselves about alternatives. A lot of what the media, medical establishment, and institutions tell us about "mental illness," psych drugs, and how we have to live our lives is just not true. We educate ourselves and each other. We question what we hear on TV and read in doctor's office brochures. We explore holistic and spiritual approaches to handling our extreme states of consciousness. We learn as much as we can about any medical treatments, and encourage each other to make informed choices. Icarus is a sanctuary for people thinking outside the mainstream and creating their own definitions of health and wellness.
Balancing wellness and action. Icarus is a place for supporting each other in practicing real self-care. This includes but is not limited to: making sure we don't neglect our personal basics like food, rest, exercise, and community; encouraging each other to commit to the amount of work we can actually do, and not push ourselves past our limits; and challenging ourselves to find daily routines and projects that help us live out our dreams and have enough structure to get by.
Access. We don't need more alternatives that only rich people can afford. All Icarus gatherings follow the policy that 'no one is turned away for lack of funds.' We work to create options and choices that are available to all.
Non judgment and respect for diversity. We welcome people who support psych drugs and people who do not, as well as people who use diagnostic labels and people who do not identify with those terms. We do not exclude people on the basis of politics, lifestyle choice, diagnostic history, recreational drug use, "criminal" behavior, or other outsider identities. We all have a lot to learn from each other, so we respect each others' choices. While the current social system and medical model have the tendency to divide us, we want our understanding of and experiences with madness to unite us.
Non-hierarchy and anti-oppression. Local groups need to be anti-authoritarian, inclusive, and working against racism/classism/sexism/homophobia and other oppressions. As a radical mental health support network, our affiliated groups create safe and challenging spaces where oppressive behavior is not tolerated.
Nonviolence. We believe that we will bring about lasting change in the world through dialogue, compassionate listening, mutual aid, and grassroots networks of support. We hope these approaches contribute to forming viable alternatives to the current system of government, bureaucracy, domination, and corporate culture.
Transparency. We believe in public access to information about how we are making decisions, spending money, distributing responsibility, and otherwise delegating the work of organizing together.