Feeling Absolutely Mad!


Feeling Absolutely Mad!


“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

-Angela Schwindt

This quote hits home for me. Especially when it comes to learning from my kids about social justice. I’m sure you’ll agree that in order to prepare our children for the big, bad world out there, most, good parents try to teach their kids as much as they can about what they’ll have to confront in life.

If we’re lucky, our kids, in turn, teach us what really matters.


I like to think that a great parent will open their mind and heart, let their kid be heard and at some point actually do something to help put their child’s thoughts and ideas about life (their teachings) into action in order to make the world a better place.

Depending on their age and stage in life, we can learn so much from our kids about social justice. Like how to change for the better any negative behaviors, social norms or cultural customs that they’ve witnessed (and that we’ve unconsciously instilled in them).

By their teachings, we’ll learn to understand how these negative social factors affect their feelings, how they disturb the identities they wish to take on in their lives and how they diminish the purpose they need to feel in the world. Furthermore, and if we listen carefully, they may just teach us how to critically think and look at new cultural ideas in different and better ways to help us all.

What we choose to do with our children’s teachings can make all the difference in the world.


 My kids have taught me so much about social justice and mental health.

Aside from my own experiences with mental health, the attitudes I have about most of the world’s mental health care systems have been strongly influenced by my kid’s experiences too. Including myself, many of my family members have more than one mental health condition that we all struggle with. While unfortunately, both my kids have inherited my poor mental health genes, fortunately, together and with our continuous self-education, raised awareness, and shared discussion, we’re all learning ways to conquer our mental health issues.

Together, my social justice warriors and I persist to strengthen ourselves, challenge the mental health care systems, and strive to make the world a better place to live in for other survivors.


Most recently, I’ve been learning about Mad Studies. My daughter lives in Toronto, Canada, where Mad Studies had its beginnings and she’s just started teaching me about this interesting and crucial movement.

Mad Studies was pioneered by Ryerson and York Universities in Toronto, with key figures such as mental health survivors, activists and educators David Reville and Geoffrey Reaume and academics Kathryn Church and Brenda le Francois. They challenged the way that psychiatry was shaping their lives and challenged the discrimination that went with being considered mentally ill.

Mad Studies is an area of education, scholarship, and analysis about the experiences, history, culture, political organizing, narratives, writings and most importantly, the PEOPLE who identify as: Mad; psychiatric survivors; consumers; service users; mentally ill; patients, neuro-diverse; inmates; disabled -to name a few of the “identity labels” our community may choose to use.

Mad studies are based on a simple idea: listen to mad people and look at madness from their points of view.


Presently, more and more people (especially children) are being diagnosed with mental health conditions on a regular basis in our society.

Worldwide 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental disorders and nationally 20 % (or 1 in 5) children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.

Yet, there is still such a stigma about mental health in our society.


Historically, our culture has perpetuated the stigma surrounding mental health. People with mental health conditions frequently continue to be seen as damaged, diseased and/or dangerous. Globally, mental health care systems have served to demoralize, institutionalize, and pathologize people with mental health conditions throughout time. If this attitude and these measures are maintained, it will only cause more discrimination, fear, isolation, loneliness, and walls between people.


Time to get proud.


Since 1993, Mad Pride has emerged out of many historical movements for self-determination and dignity, including Black Liberation, Women’s Liberation, “Mad Liberation”, anti-psychiatry, ex-psychiatric patient, self-reliance, anti-poverty, consumer survivor, service user and other movements.

International Mad Pride Day falls on July 14th and is celebrated around the world.


Currently, The Mad Studies Network thrives to gather resources internationally and serves as a network of Mad Studies undertakings and events.

I think it’s wonderful that these type of studies are being offered to the young adults of the world. This invaluable knowledge will give them an opportunity to understand the human brain in a more empathetic way. A chance to look at other people with more compassion towards the conditions they struggle with. Then, they can teach us all how to make changes in our destructive attitudes and our outdated systems.

Instead of simply slapping on diagnoses to describe what people have or a label to define what they are, and instead of just throwing a pill at the problem, Mad Studies helps us all to look at each other and ourselves in a newer and much kinder way.


It’s time to break the pattern of stigma and listen. Listen to our children’s (and our own) need to be understood and accepted. We all deserve the right to have a safe place to be in this world. Time to learn from our kids, to critically think together, and to look towards new cultural ideas in different and better ways.


Time to get mad!

Tracy Bryan writes whimsical books for kids ages 4-12. She likes to tackle important and diverse topics that affect kids and their families. She also writes a blog for adults and one for kids aged 7-12 called The Awesomeness Blog.

Visit her website welcome page, and on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.


Mental Health Website Links

(Author Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these resources may not ALL be those of Tracy Bryan. They serve to give the reader a comparative list of different perspectives and information about mental health (and the mental health system) from a broad spectrum of organizations, websites, articles, journals, and books related to mental health. Hopefully at some point, and with some more awareness and critical thinking, we'll all be on the same page!)

Mad Studies Network (includes more website links & recommended reading)

Time To Change (UK based)





Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 History by The American Psychiatric Association

 National Institute Of Mental Health


Reading Resources


Mad Matters by Brenda A. LeFrancois , Robert Menzies, and Geoffrey Reaume

World Health Organization Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020

The History Of Mental Illness: From Skull Drills To Happy Pills

The Future of Mental Health (Reading List)


Social Media Sites


Mad Pride Toronto Facebook Group



The Mad Society of Canada Facebook Page


#communityofpractice #madsoc 



Mad In America Facebook Page




 Images by Freelance Graphic Artist

Larissa Kulik

(licensed from Shutterstock.com)