Artefact Evaluation: Unorthodox Alliances
Timing: 45 Minutes
Mode: In-Class; Online
The early MPA (Mental Patients Association) has a well-deserved reputation for radicalism, but in this exhibit scholars Geertje Boschma, Megan Davies, and Marina Morrow explore how MPA worked simultaneously alongside and in opposition to mainstream mental health. This process interrupted existing power relationships and the performance of mental health work, allowing patients and professionals to move across previously prescribed roles in the emerging field of community mental health and for interesting new service user initiatives to take shape.
This linked After the Asylum exhibit contains 4 biographical sketches of MPA founders and 3 case studies of MPA practice innovations. This exhibit is a useful tool for encouraging future mental health practitioners to re-evaluate professional-client roles and relationships and to think in innovative ways about mental health services. It provides an opportunity for students to think about policy as more than a top-down creation by considering potential input from people who use services. The combination of historical documents and oral histories in this resource can help them work through these ideas.
Instructors and students will find extensive historical material about the early MPA in the exhibit, including original documents and photographs, and audio and video-taped oral history interview segments. This material can be used in a variety of ways including: a flipped classroom resource, lecture material, a source for student presentations or research papers.
For an in-class or online learning activity, divide your students into 7 groups and assign each group a different MPA biography or case study. Ask your students to consider how these components from the past make them revise their understandings of the current mental health systems, policy formation, and the roles of mental health practitioners and service users. Then have each group create a 5-minute presentation or podcast to share their ideas in class or online. Instructors may choose components according the time available.