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Survivors Speak Out

[ Aims & Objectives ] [ Publications ] [ Information Service ] [ Behind the Headlines ]
[ Survivors as Trainers ]

[ Poetry ]

empowering individuals

promoting positive images

improving services

challenging psychiatry

finding alternatives

campaigning for change

informing people

Survivors Speak Out was founded in 1986 by a group of mental health service users and workers. The term survivors was chosen to portray a positive image of people in distress and people whose experience differs from, or who dissent from, society's norms. Our main aim is to promote self advocacy: the fundamental right of every individual to promote their own view-speak out - and to have that view heard.

For more details about SSO or more copies of this information in a leaflet form, please write to us at the address given, or telephone the office number, or the information service. The information line is staffed between 1.30pm and 5.p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays ( an answerphone operates outside these hours).

Aims & Objectives

To raise consciousness of the survivors movement and its philosophies amongst users and ex-users of psychiatric services;

To raise public awareness of alternative ways of looking at mental health and emotional distress;

To improve understanding of distress and different views of reality amongst mental health professionals;

To promote the ever increasing number of survivor led services within the community;

To press statutory services and voluntary agencies to recognise the need for meaningful involvement of current and former users in the planning, provision and monitoring and evaluation of services;

To promote self advocacy as the goal of all other forms of advocacy;

To support the formation on new survivors action groups;

To promote positive images of survivors through the media;

To provide and contribute to workshops, training events and conferences on these issues.

empowering individuals

SSO believes that individuals should have a greater say in the way they are treated. People in distress often have their views ignored. Many people find that once they have been diagnosed "mental ill", mental health professionals place no value on their opinion. An informed choice to decline drug treatment is seen as proof of illness or lack of insight.

SSO believes that many aspects of psychiatry actively take power away from and impose upon, individuals and that this is a major cause of increased distress. There are a number of different services run by, or with survivors around the UK that offer empowering alternatives to drugs and ECT. Members of SSO have been Involved in setting up such services and publicising them.

promoting positive images

The media is full of negative images of "mental Illness". Many of the public and media perceptions of madness are, in fact results of psychiatric treatments, effects of medication or the result of years in hospital.

SSO appreciates the wealth of diverse talents within the survivor movement. From poets and artist to computer programmers and accountants - survivors from all these trades are working together to promote our positive images.

SSO lobbies and educates mainstream programme makers and writers. We contribute to the production of training videos and tapes, and have written countless articles for journals and newspapers. SSO is represented on public platforms enabling the survivor voice to be heard.

alternative models

Psychiatry takes our distress and treats it as a purely medical problem to be solved by drugs and ECT (electric shock treatment). The drugs used by psychiatry suppress feelings and emotions. Many have a strong sedative effect. Many are addictive, causing serious problems for anyone who wishes to stop taking them. Use of these drugs can bring unpleasant short term effects and long term brain damage. People are often not told of the potential dangers of tailing these drugs. Many are misled and few are offered a range of (or indeed any) alternatives.

SSO believes in informed choice for all treatments and a right to refuse. People have a right to know the effects of drugs and the alternatives to them.


SSO has produced a number of publications that promote the survivor perspective on a range of issues. The "self advocacy action pack" first produced in 1989 and now reprinted and revised, provides an overview of the meaning of self advocacy, explains some of philosophy of the movement and offers practical advice for promoting self advocacy. "Self-Harm - perspectives from personal experiences" offers a unique insight into the subject through the words of those with direct experience; we expect to produce similar publications on a range of subjects, including phobias, in the near future. "Stopovers on my way home form Mars" is a personal account of a saviours experience of psychiatry and the survivor movement around the world it has much to offer a reader with an interest in the subject.

Information Service

Regretfully the information service will not be in operation this year, 1995-1996 due to the cuts in funding . Survivors or groups who want people to know about them should drop us a line for inclusion in the newsletter.

Behind the Headlines

SSO has a stock of press cuttings to help people research the issues that have made the headlines. SSO also keeps a stock of articles of interest to survivors: a list of these, and other publications that may be of value is available for those that want to look deeper.

Survivors as Trainers

SSO is committed to the idea of training and skill sharing. We have run training sessions and events for survivors trainers (a report of one of these events is available) and actively promote the training of professional people by survivors.

Survivors Speak Out

Membership details:

Membership is open to any individual or group who agrees with aims and objectives of SSO.

Survivor membership is open to self-defined psychiatric system survivors. Only survivor members are able to vote or stand for election of the co-ordinating group.

Membership details are kept on computer but will not be passed to anyone without your expressed agreement. Survivors Speak Out is registered under the UK Data Protection Act.

Current annual membership costs are:

NB The first amount is for ordinary membership charges, the Second is for low income.

Type of Membership Employed Low Income



Disabled Allies.









Send your name and address, type of membership requested to:

General information

National Head Office:

34 Osnaburgh Street

( 0171 916 5472
0171 916 5473

SSO publications:

A list of publications and articles by SSO or its members and others that may be of interest is available from the above address.

SSO Co-ordinating group:

send correspondence to:

The Secretary or the Administrator


SSO Poetry. This section will carry poems from survivors on a regular basis.


These are a few extracts from a Survivors Poetry Booklet available for a small cost from:
Beech & Lime Publications Tel 0161 740 1662. Reprinted by kind permission.


There's "can't in the Community",

There's "Critical of me in the Community",

There's "Cruel in the Community",

There's them that are ignoring me,

There's even some avoiding me,

There's crying but not heeding me,

There's words that cannot access me,

There's only half the therapy!

There's nobody available!

There's homelessness where ones told to be,

" Bloody working you lazy git", but,

There's no jobs for me and that was the first causality.

There's "Equality", but that doesn't apply to "Disability".

There's Friendship and there's Family,

and the friends are "Mental" same as me -

The hospital's our Community,

and they're "Closing the Community".

There's a "Chemical Strightjacket"

That means that we,

Sit silently, Lonely, Passively,

Needing someone to talk to me,

But what "Care in the Community"!

(25 August 1991)

Psychiatric Pills

It's only got one side effect, You really must give it a try.

It's only got one side effect, It makes you want to die.

The Bored - out - of - ones - wits Stare.

The staring stare,

A blinkless blank.

It's quietly there,

In silence sunk.

One's been alone

for one gone hour...

It feels like Ten,

And ever more.