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The History of the Mad Movement & Alternatives to Biomedical Approaches

Learn About Transformative & Liberatory Mental Health Practices Beyond The Disease Model!

  Enroll in Course

You know mental health in the U.S. is in need of reform and want to be part of the solution.

You believe people should not be reduced to their medical diagnosis but don't know where to get information about alternatives.

You are frustrated by a mental health system that hinders people from living full lives and you constantly think to yourself "there has to be another way!"

You know there are numerous other factors that impact our mental health such as trauma, poverty, and race—and you want to know more.

You seek refreshing perspectives about mental health that go beyond our “medicate and separate” institutional model and truly transform lives.

You want to make a difference in the lives of those with mental health-related challenges.



How did we get here?
We review the political and social landscape that bolstered the dominant biopsychiatry model from the 1980s until now.

What's the problem with mental health right now?
We discuss the widespread impacts of big pharma, the marketing of psychotropic medication, and subsequent cultural reforms that shifted us into an age of more "sickness" than ever before.

Where's the resistance?
We provide a brief history of the mad movement and human rights reform in mental health

What about the people who have been through it?
We uplift the power of lived experience, amplify the voices of survivors of trauma and adversity, discuss the rise of the peer specialist role, and reform the system with the power of our stories.

What's the alternative?
We introduce innovative and transformative alternative frameworks for understanding mental health and well-being.

  • Health and mental health professionals, including: clinicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, peer specialists, recovery support specialists, housing specialists, nurse practitioners
  • Students
  • Family members and advocates
  • Activists
  • Anyone who works or plans to work with people experiencing mental health-related challenges

We value lived experience as highly as professional training, so each of our courses is led by both a mental health clinician as well as a someone who identifies as a survivor, a mental health service user, and/or someone who has experienced a mental health crisis. This means you will receive holistic and nuanced perspectives from experts by trade and experts by experience.

Celia Brown
President of Mind Freedom International
Regional Advocacy Specialist for the New York State Office of Mental Health

Jonah Bossewitch, Ph.D
Educator, Technologist, Activist
Director of Software Architecture and Applications for Vibrant Emotional Health

Sascha DuBrul, MSW
Writer, Educator, Co-Founder of the Icarus Project
Recovery Specialist and Trainer for OnTrackNY

Issa Ibrahim
Artist, Activist
Author of The Hospital Always Wins

Jazmine Russell, NYCPS
Holistic Counselor, Peer Specialist
Co-Founder of IDHA

Bradley Lewis, MD, PhD
Author, Practicing Psychiatrist
Associate Professor at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study

Class Curriculum


  Welcome - Start Here!
Available in days
days after you enroll
  The Value of Lived Experience: The Peer Movement & The Peer Workforce
Available in days
days after you enroll
  The Mental Health System & Systemic Injustice
Available in days
days after you enroll

7 videos full of history, research, and unique perspectives

3 bonus articles written by our faculty and other leaders in the field

Access to a creative online community of professionals and advocates

"Phenomenal speakers and topics! All very rich and valuable. Information is dense but presented in a very approachable and relatable way."

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 contact@idha-nyc.org 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!

"I loved how the presenters moved in between structural and individual applications! I learned some tools as a supporter on an individual level but also some food for thought on ways I can contribute to broader changes in the system, or outside of it."

Get started now!