“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.” - Lilla Watson

Mental health and systemic oppression are deeply intertwined. From the pain of oppression being erased or made invisible due to the subjective nature of psychiatric diagnosis, to the significantly higher rates at which people of color are diagnosed with “serious mental illness,” to the subjective definition of psychological trauma, which still fails to include individual, collective, and generational trauma stemming from racism and institutionalized oppression.

The beginnings of the mad movement drew inspiration from other liberation movements of the time period, including the civil rights, women’s liberation, gay rights, and disabiltiy rights movements. Today, mental health activism is taking an increasingly intersectional approach, considering all points of oppression and a range of identities. In order to bring about real and lasting change in the system, this approach is crucial to integrate in training, research, clinical practice, and otherwise.

This class is for anyone interested in an intersectional analysis and holistic approach to healing.

It provides a historical analysis of how systems of oppression have impacted marginalized groups’ interactions with the mental health system. We begin by locating our identities and assumptions, then go on to contextualize the history of oppression and racism within the mental health system. We review a few of the ways that systemic oppression shows up in the system today, including the mental health disparities of BIPOC, the subjective nature of diagnosis, and oppression as an illness itself that is rarely seen as such. We close by invoking the peer movement as one place to seek liberation.


  • How to locate yourself within social and political contexts, to spur reflection and future action

  • The various, intersecting systems of oppression present in the United States

  • How psychiatry as a discipline has been historically deployed to marginalize and oppress people of color, especialy BIPOC

  • The influence of race and ethnicity on mental health diagnosis

  • The importance of an intersectional approach to making change in the mental health system

  • How the peer movement can support collective liberation

Your Instructor

Dr. Mariel Buquè & Noah Gokul
Dr. Mariel Buquè & Noah Gokul

Dr. Mariel Buquè is an Afro-Dominican with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University. Her work focuses on the advancement of culturally responsive clinical care and healing wounds of intergenerational trauma. She teaches courses and provides clinical care at Columbia University in the areas of culturally-responsive delivery of mental health care and the decolonization of eurocentric therapeutic practices. She also focuses on delivering racial healing workshops and conducting mental health and anti-racism workshops across the nation, as she believes in the liberation of our minds and of oppressive systems as necessary qualities of our overall wellness.

Noah Gokul is a queer educator, artist, musician from Oakland, CA. He identifies as a trauma survivor, and has used music for personal healing and for the healing of others, as a Peer Specialist working with young adults. He currently is a consultant for COR (Confronting Structural Racism) program in the Jewish Board, organizing programming for an agency wide anti-racism initiative. He strongly believes in reimagining what we call “mental health,” through a holistic lens rooted in an anti-oppression framework.

“This has been the best training in mental health that I’ve attended; very grateful to IDHA and presenters.”

- 2020 Course Participant


120+ minutes of video content

Exclusive readings and resources

Access to the IDHA Learning Community Facebook Group

Discussion with community members inside the course

Mental health and physical health professionals, including: clinicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, peer specialists, recovery support specialists, housing specialists, nurse practitioners, wellness support workers, coaches, holistic practitioners



Family members and advocates

Anyone who works or plans to work with people experiencing mental health-related challenges



Get started now!

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
This is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course, content, or platform?
We love hearing your feedback on what we can do to improve our efforts to bring transformative mental health to the public! Shoot us an email at [email protected] and let us know your thoughts. If you disagree with any of the perspectives shown in this course - that's great! We encourage differing perspectives, so feel free to leave a comment in the course - so long as your comments remain respectful and you speak from your own point of view.
I am a person struggling with mental health issues/a family member of someone who is struggling. Can I take the course?
Absolutely! Just note that this course is geared towards professionals in the field, and will speak mostly to those working in a formal support role. However, we welcome anyone who wants to join!
Are Refunds available?
At this time, all sales are final, we cannot offer refunds after purchase.