Components: Self-Guided

Three green gears working togetherComponents: MPA – Self-Guided

Timing: 45 Minutes (flexible)
Mode: In-class; Online

The 36-minute Canadian documentary The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Stories from MPA, is an excellent learning tool for exploring advocacy, activism and promising mental health practice.  Early MPA members still feel passionate about the group that they founded and wanted to make a film that would demonstrate the effectiveness of MPA and its continued relevance.  They worked collaboratively with academic scholars and young artists and filmmakers to create this engaging documentary.  The Inmates has been screened across Canada and in Britain and the United States.

Available online and in most college and university libraries, The Inmates can be viewed in class or independently and used as the basis for the Peer-Directed or Self-Directed Learning activities.

Students can download and read a book chapter about making the film, “Democracy is a Very Radical Idea” or visit two versions of a Madness Canada exhibit about MPA: Mad City: Legacies of MPA and How MPA Re-formed Community Mental Health. Both of these exhibits can be used as stand-alone learning resources or in combination with the film as a basis for a wider exploration of mental health advocacy and activism.

Have students use the following topics to guide their viewing of The Inmates and reflections about the film:

  • Grassroots organizing, democratic structuring of mental health alternatives
  • Implications of receiving government funding – the impacts on grassroots organizations
  • Understanding madness as a social movement
  • Deinstitutionalization
  • Professionalism
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Work
  • Empowerment