Involvement in activism can make people especially prone to highs and lows. Sometimes we feel incredible, knowing we are part of shaping history in the streets with our friends, and other times we may find ourselves desperate and burnt out, feeling the entire world suffering under our solitary skin. Mindful Occupation aims to address the need for attention to mental health, healing, and emotional first aid within Occupy and other movement groups. Occupy has been an evolving movement, affected by the forces of passion, time, police, government, corporations, tactics, weather, creativity, and the growing pains that all activist movements experience. Some suggestions in this booklet are about making sustainable encampments, many of which have been temporarily destroyed by the police and government. Other suggestions are applicable for any and all activist groups working on making social change. Still other suggestions are general helpful ideas for taking care of ourselves and others as we live our lives.
The booklet begins with a chapter that asks, “What is Radical Mental Health?” followed by chapters that explicitly connect the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatric establishment with the larger message of Occupy. It discusses the importance of self-care, mutual aid, and coping skills in times of stress and includes material about first aid for emotional trauma, navigating crisis, and healing from and preventing sexual assault. This material can be used to help facilitate teach-ins, skill-shares, and peer-support groups to help sustain movements over the long term.
There is an urgent need to talk publicly about the relationship between social injustice and our mental health. We need to start redefining what it actually means to be mentally healthy, not just on an individual level, but on collective, communal, and global levels. This booklet is a valuable beginning of that conversation.