= "a peer-to-peer approach to emotional healing".
"Emotional health issues impact 1 in 5 people in the United States and cost adults some $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year — but mental health care and support remain stigmatized and beyond reach for many of us. It’s worth considering — what would a solidarity economy approach to mental health look like? Can we use the commons to create access to wellness?
One answer is to organize communities to provide emotional support. The Icarus Project, a support network and media project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness, is doing just that.
Icarus has some fifteen chapters nationwide that offer non-judgmental, compassionate peer support. Icarus’s online forums — both on the Icarus site and on social media — are also a vital resource. This is especially true for people who seek virtual or anonymous support, an understandable need in the context of mental health stigma and criminalization. “We’ve found that the most transformative approaches are those that allow people to directly connect and share wisdom,” says Agustina Vidal, Icarus Programs Coordinator. Icarus publications draw on the wisdom of lived experiences and are available for free or at low-cost.
“It’s a peer-to-peer approach to emotional healing that saves lives and honors the brilliance of our participants,” states Icarus Development Coordinator & Ally Liaison, Maryse Mitchell-Brody, “And, it centers the self-determination and needs of people in emotional distress, rather than the rigid structures of the mainstream mental health industry.”
Organizing peer support isn’t easy, however. Many Icarus members face barriers to employment, housing, and services that make their day-to-day lives unstable and impact their ability to organize. Oppression — such as racism, ableism, and queer and transphobia — can cause emotional distress and deepen experiences of instability and injustice. Finding ways to support people who confront intersectional oppression at the same time as emotional distress is a central priority for Icarus.
That doesn’t mean Icarus has never confronted injustice from within. Agustina shares, “We’re still learning how to best educate ourselves about each other’s experiences and create safe(r) spaces for all. Our newest project, Mad Maps, allows individuals and groups to map their own experiences and support needs, directly tackling oppression and intergenerational trauma. We hope this will help educate our community and create spaces that are welcoming to everyone, not just those who are part of the dominant culture.” (https://www.shareable.net/a-commons-cure-for-emotional-distress/)