In 1971, former Vancouver psychiatric patients banded together and inverted traditional mental health hierarchies, putting former patients and sympathetic lay supporters in charge. They were known as the Mental Patients Association (MPA) and they changed the psychiatric landscape of Canada. York University Professor Megan Davies is the producer of the documentary film, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Stories from MPA, about that time.
The 36-minute film, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Stories from MPA, will screen Thursday, Jan. 9, from 2:30 to 4pm, in 103 Life Science Building, Keele campus, hosted by York’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies as part of its 2013-2014 seminar series. A panel discussion, including historian and filmmaker Megan Davies of the Health & Society program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, political science Professor Miriam Smith, and critical disabilities studies Professor Geoffrey Reaume, will follow the screening. Everyone is invited to attend.
The MPA, the first group of its kind in the country, promoted a radical grassroots response to deinstitutionalization. It provided homes, work and a sense of belonging and self-determination to ex-patients a time when people with mental health problems were routinely written off by society. Davies filmed interviews with some of the early participants and consulted with them on how best to tell their story, which they decided would be through a documentary.
With assistance from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Department of Social Science and the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, the film collective produced an engaging story of radical community activism.
To learn more about the film, visit the History of Madness website.