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Asylum Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry

I was delighted to attend the inaugural meeting of the London Asylum Group last night, organised by Dave Harper, a member of Asylum’s editorial collective. Asylum is a grassroots mental health mag, originally produced by Alec Jenner and others in Sheffield in the 1980s, who were inspired by the Psichiatria Democratica movement which had begun in Italy in the 1970s. As a social work student in Sheffield in the late 80s, I was fired up by radical, democratic, survivor and user-led mental health practices, having been involved in such initiatives while earlier working for Liverpool MIND. Alec Jenner, a professor of psychiatry, gave us lectures on mental health, and I was also a regular attender at his open monthly seminars.

Tontine Road Day Centre was just down the road in Chesterfield, and was an inspiration as an example of user involvement in the running of a service, and in the statutory sector to boot. If you search the internet you might come across papers by Andrew Milroy and Rick Hennelly about their work there in the 80s – they also had a chapter in Living After Mental Illness, edited by Charles Patmore – and I’m pretty sure there would have been at least one article in Asylum too.

I loved Asylum, which seemed chaotic, crackling with energy and crawling with ideas, with interviews with R. D. Laing, articles about user-led research, testimonies from survivors, theoretical musings and calls to action. As a social work practice teacher in the 90s I found my backlog of copies an invaluable resource and would often ask students on placement with me to read articles from it.

Then I lost touch with it, and so it was great to find out that it was still alive and kicking from my friend, clinical psychologist and academic, Dave Harper.

Do investigate it online and do consider taking out a subscription. It is well worth it.

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