As many of you may know, those two online magazines are among the largest contributors to mental health writings. The Mighty has a focus on disability, mental illness (their term, not mine), and disease, a very versatile platform with contributors I’ve always enjoyed reading. The people have good hearts and their stories are always worth reading. They will always be worth reading, because those stories are people’s lives, regardless of what I’m about to say in this post.
Mad In America is a website I was first introduced to when applying to my position at Second Story Respite House–mostly because Mad in America wrote a couple articles on them and because the trainer I had for IPS, Steven Morgan, has contributed some articles. But the website also has articles on science and drugs and psychiatry and social justice, another versatile, well spoken, and respectable magazine with just as respectable contributors as The Mighty.
The one thing I understand about being a major website with editors and contributors regarding mental health is the same thing I understand about being a non-profit, “progressive”, mental health program: funding is shit. Funding is shit. Funding is shit. It’s not easy to keep these kinds of things going, and temptations are out there. Embellished temptations that look better than they are.
When I read the article “Why I Resigned From The Mighty” by Twilah Hiari published on Mad In America, I was disheartened but not surprised in the least. Not the least. You can read her work for herself, and I encourage you to, but I’ll give a quick summary.
She’d been offered a position at The Mighty as an editor I believe, and summoned to a work retreat. There she learned the chief revenue officer’s plan to monetize The Mighty with pharmaceutical advertising. The quote Hiari included from her is as follows: “If the CEO for Abilify was in the front row right now, he’d be salivating”. This deal included giving drug companies data on the website’s users for targeted advertising and marketing.
I will never at all blame this officer for her poor decision–because that’s what it is, a poor decision, and we’ve all made poor decision in life. I can’t fault her for being human. And I understand the need to fund the site and pay contributors, but the problem with this is that it’s like protesting Animal Abuse, and then–unknowingly or knowingly–buying a product in a store that tests on animals. You have to be careful with this kind of thing. You have to be very, very careful.
Hiari then goes into her own experiences with the drug Abilify and how it’s negatively, very, very negatively (go read her article, seriously) impacted her life.
And I think the important distinction here is to recognize that Hiari is not bitter about how medications have caused her harm and now refuses any and all association with them and plans to blast them on the internet, but that she’s pointing out a serious issue we have right now: this inclusion of big pharma whose intention is money and nothing more into our mental health empowerment strategies. Big Pharma is not for mental health empowerment. If they were, we probably wouldn’t call them Big Pharma.
That’s like funding Second Story through Big Pharma and allowing them to place their appointed psychiatrists in our house to monitor our guests’ medications and market. I mean, fucks’ sake. Yeah, that’ll go over real well. Come in and undermine everything we stand for, thanks, appreciate it, high five.
Corporate pressure is real, and The Mighty has Fallen. Beneath the pressure, that is.
We have to remember in this world that’s controlled by business, that when we have a view that we stand for, we have to actually stand for it. Not sit, not cower, not bend over, but actually stand. So your legs might hurt, your back might ache, you might feel week, but it’s your view. Own it–don’t sell it.