ways to help

Happy new year from the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health.  Here are some ways to help us thrive.  We’re a mutual aid collective.  Many of us have mental health challenges, hear voices, see visions, experience extreme states, feel big feelings, or engage reality in ways that others don’t.

Some of us have diagnoses, and some of us identify as psychiatric survivors or crazy.  Others of us might identify as neurodivergent, and we might enjoy doing support and disabled inter-dependence.

Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective has been going since 2017.  Wow, this May will be our seven year anniversary.  Is that right?

love and options

We’re working toward a world where love is more important than money.  We need options.  Radical mental health as a powerful way of caring for ourselves and one another.  Paid professionals are part of a system that helps many people and hurts many people.  Some of us want to engage doctors, while others of us choose to avoid psychiatry.  There are many ways that you and I can help one another in a non-hierarchical way., with shared power.

Radical mental health changes the world with kindness and healing culture.  There’s nothing wrong with being different in how we think and feel.  Many of our qualities that are pathologized by mainstream medicine are also strengths.  Being sensitive and feeling a lot is ok.  By supporting one another, we can have good lives outside the usual narratives.  We can define success on our own terms.

Through radical mental health, we can encourage diversity, strengthen one another for survival, and bring more people to the table of humanity.  Too many of us are isolated and shamed for what we’ve lived through.  Radical mental health is a way to encourage truth and being who we really are.

more than support

Some say it’s a support group, but there are agendas besides talking in a format.  Over the years we’ve done ecstatic dance, deescalation trainings in collaboration with other orgs, garden days, art workshops.  We dream of starting a soteria house as a place of refuge for people who are in crisis–a place that’s safer than a psych hospital.  In psych hospitals, many patients lose our freedom and suffer abuse because of the power imbalance.

You could say Food Not Bombs feeds the poor, but it’s also about reclaiming material resources that would otherwise be wasted, respecting houseless and poor people, and making peace through connection and love in action.  There’s a physical act of sharing food, but there are greater goals at the same time.

Likewise, radical mental health is support group style relating, but there’s a vision behind it.  Through free, non-hierarchical care, we’re taking mental health into our own hands and creating a better world.  There’s so much we can do for one another.

It’s a lie that we all need professionals when we have mental health challenges.  Love helps us.  Friends make the best medicine, and I will be there for my comrades as well as I can.

ways to help

LVRMHC is no longer based in Las Vegas.  Yet we keep the name as a gesture toward our roots.  Several of us are west coast, but anyone can be part of what we do.

Here are some ways to help, if you ever want to contribute to the work.

  • table at events
  • create new materials like postcards, fliers, stickers
  • print materials
  • distribute materials
  • make event postings
  • invite radical mental healthers to events
  • write emails
  • remind people to come–txt, msg, call
  • create content for website and instagram
  • post links, memes, art on facebook group
  • work on deescalation training materials
  • organize a hike, potluck, garden day
  • facilitate or co-facilitate a meeting
  • create a facilitation skills training
  • help schedule meetings – pick dates
  • donate for web hosting etc
  • fundraise
  • plan workshops / events
  • analyze alliances with other orgs and strengthen
  • vision collective’s future
  • work toward Soteria house–research, plan, network
  • organize a radical mental health movie screening

Radical mental health is an option besides what mainstream culture offers us.  The option most of us experience of “suck it up as long as you can, then lose your shit and go to a psychiatrist when you have no other choice” is not a workable plan.  There are so many ways to care for ourselves and one another that don’t involve health insurance hell,  being institutionalized, rock bottom arrest, medication with horrible side effects, or otherwise handing over our power.

Thank you for caring for yourself and others in all the ways you do.


community, power, and radical mental health

Hello, I’m Laura-Marie, she her.  I help run the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective for the last five years.  Yay, happy collective anniversary!

I’m happy my spouse Ming and I helped form community here in this desert around radical mental health.

I’m a psychiatric survivor and writer.  I do meaningful unpaid work.

  • fat liberation
  • queer liberation
  • radical mental health
  • autistic liberation
  • art
  • ecstatic dance
  • veg cooking
  • permaculture
  • trike witchery
  • anti-nuclear peace work
  • intentional community

I’m always looking for new ideas I can savor, take into myself, share with community, and understand reality with.  I’m happy to learn with you.

what is radical mental health

We need huge change in how mental health is treated and thought of.  How do we enact this change?  One way is to speak the truth about how mental health is for everyone, not just some crazy people over there.

Any person can have an extreme state and big feelings.  Mostly power is what determines how distressed persons are treated.  Poor people, people of color, fat people, and queer people can have our moods and outlier experiences used against us.

Because we’re seen as weak and lesser-than, culture has decided we’re not worth as much, and the usual freedoms don’t apply.  We can be scapegoated, othered, and controlled paternalistically, as if we need to be protected.  But the protections offered are usually invasive if not abusive.

We can lose our freedom in psych hospitals easily.  Our needs are ignored, and our bodies are harmed forcefully without our consent.  This is unjust and bad for society overall.  By deeming us too much, bad, and worthless, culture dooms a lot of people and loses the rich brilliance we have to share.  Culture dumps a lot of amazing people.

But people such as ourselves could be helpful in many ways, including visionary possibilities.  The very people who could help culture become more functional and bright are locked away and pathologized.  That’s not good for people like me, but isn’t good for anyone.

let’s keep power to ourselves

One of the goals of radical mental health is to share tools that make sense to the people.  Let’s keep our power in ourselves, as much as we can.  Doctors and pills might be helpful for some things.  But I prefer many choices.  We don’t need to hand our power over to doctors who pretend they know everything, when psychiatry is way more prejudice than science.

I’m happy when medication helps my friends.  But my experience on a bipolar cocktail was of sedation.  Pysch meds made me easier for other people.  My own joy and life’s work were not considered.

I was sedated for my own protection, by doctors who were far too busy and disrespectful to see the actual human being before them and find out what life I wanted to live.  They didn’t care what my life’s work was or what gifts my ancestors handed me.  They didn’t want to help me be the person I wanted to be.  They saw me as incapable and not a helpful member of society.  I was treated like trash.

faith in regular people

The Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective and other groups doing radical mental health have a homegrown approach with a lot of faith in regular people.  We’re the experts of ourselves.

It’s not that we’re perfect or know everything.  It’s more…I’d rather listen to creative people working for a better world, than listen to rigid doctors who make a ton of money dominating vulnerable people.

Friendship is the best medicine.  Love is the best medicine.  I want to form community with equals in a non-hierarchical setting, not bow to the superiority of someone in a white coat who endured med school and can afford a lot of cars.

mutual aid

Let’s try new things that help us heal ourselves and our communities.  Let’s come together to listen to one another and do mutual aid.  We can learn new ideas and ways, to bring back to all the people we care about.  We can change culture with a motivation of love, not money.


dance party

We had a beautiful dance party–felt great to move some energy through.  I hope Sunday morning is good for you, at Craig Ranch Park.  We’ll do it again next month.

Love to all of us as we feel our feelings.  Thank you for facing reality and doing truth.


the tale of the purple sketchbook

Gather near, collectivers and friends, and I will tell you the tale of the purple sketchbook.

It was long ago, circa 2017, before the pandemic–back when we could nonchalantly hug people, share snacks, share juice, and use the same markers and sketchbook.  How innocent we were!


I went to bed one night and dreamed the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective had a purple sketchbook–dreamt it back then, in 2017.  People enjoyed writing and drawing in it, during meetings, as a thing to do with our hands.  A calming activity, one choice of many.  It was magical, and its purpleness was important to the collective’s success.

So Ming took me to a craft store, so I could buy a purple sketchbook.  (This was before I understood that I can make my own sketchbooks.) But there were no purple ones.  We ended up choosing a white sketchbook meant to be colored, and purple paint to paint it.


Then, yes, like the dream, it was a thing we brought to all the meetings, with markers.  Many people drew in it–doodles, mandalas, symbols, arts.  I wrote poems in there.  The purple sketchbook became a comfort.

Mostly the art is unsigned.  Whoever showed up that day and left their mark, blessing the collective in their unique way.

I photocopied some sketchbook art for the radical mental health collective’s first zine, Radical Mental Health is for Everyone.  Please reach out if you would like a copy!


The future of the sketchbook?  It’s waiting for covid to end, I guess.  When we meet again in person, hugging again.  Sharing snacks and markers again.

Maybe I could bring it to an online meeting to show, just for fun.

Thank you for hearing the tale of the purple sketchbook.  I hope you write in it again, one day!  The paper is thirsty for the ink you want to share, dreaming of your attention and time.  Mad love to all artists everywhere, but especially the open-hearted crazy ones.


radical mental health collective style

This morning I found this document about Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective style, meeting format, and philosophy.  Feels charmingly archaic because it was written before covid, when we met in person.  There’s something about snacks shared, the emotional first aid kit, and the purple sketchbook. Aw!
I miss the purple sketchbook!  The idea came to Laura-Marie in a dream, a group sletchbook we could all write and draw in, during meetings.  I want to find it and give it some attention, during its pandemic hibernation.
Please read on, to see how things are, with the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective.  There are differences now, but over zoom, we do similar stuff!  Thank you for caring about inter-dependence, radical mental health, and loving one another.
how our meetings go
Our meetings are welcoming. Many different people come, of all genders, many ages, many mentalities and life experiences. But most of us have been touched by mental health challenges, whether through the system or on our own. We are pro-choice about medication.
Meetings involve a quick first go around for name or alias, pronouns, and some designated small fact about yourself, such as something you love or a favorite song.
Then we have a moment to explain what radical mental health is for newcomers. We share the emotional first aid kit and purple sketchbook. We pass around the safer spaces policy for you to read and agree to. (The safer spaces policy can also be found here, safer spaces policy, if you’d like to read it beforehand.)
We have juice to drink, and sometimes people bring snacks. Then we have a longer checkin where people have a set time of up to five minutes to speak about whatever they want to–how they’ve been feeling over the past week or anything going on they want to share.
We also talk about mutual aid–if anyone needs something or has extra of something to offer.  The whole thing is mutual aid, but this moment is about physical objects, mostly.
Not talking is ok–you can always pass. We offer hugs, but you can opt out of hugs also. Some people have been coming since the first meeting May 2017, and new people show up all the time too.
It’s a good mix of old and new, and the set format gives it more of a safe feel than the open-endedness of a party. There’s plenty of opportunity to connect with others, but in a way that feels less stressful because there are expectations and the certain order we do things.
for us, by us
This is a group run by people who are considered crazy, for people who are considered crazy. It’s not for the family members of the person considered crazy–it’s more for us, the actual affected people.
However, you don’t have to be crazy at all. You can come to connect with others and be social, for support during a rough spot, or maybe you don’t need support but can offer some. Maybe you like mutual aid and building community.
This group was started by Laura-Marie and Ming and has roots in the Icarus Project. Laura-Marie has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, which entails mood swings including depression and mania, hearing voices, extreme states, and times of extreme anxiety. Laura-Marie is a writer (hi!–it’s me writing this!) and makes zines, some of which are about mental health and radical mental health.
The collective has its own zine also, which contains beautiful art and writings about mental health, our collective, the Las Vegas Street Medics, poems, and ways to get more info.
This group is special because we create a culture of compassion. We listen and respect boundaries, which means offering help when wanted, and being considerate if someone doesn’t want feedback also.
Many of us are unemployed, under-employed, disabled, retired. Many of us are queer and transgender, though not all of us are. Some are parents and some are not. Many are activists, and some are radicals, working to form a new world in many different ways, such as helping homeless people, creating art, working toward justice, street medicine, and waging peace.
A lot of us need a form of support that will accept us outside of the medical model, but many choose to engage with mainstream psychiatry also, to differing degrees. Some of us believe in mental illness as a physical brain disease, while others believe in mental illness as a social problem or response to trauma, or some combination of all this.
We like collaborating with other groups. If you have an idea of how to become involved, please come to a meeting and let’s talk about it, or you can contact us through facebook, our email address, or a phone call.
Below is our old mission statement from the first year the collective was in existence. Thank you for reading, and hope to meet you soon!
old mission statement
Our ideas of mental health are bound up with, and are inseparable from, the structure of the society we live in. In many ways the idea of “good mental health” has less to do with the everyday experiences of human beings and more to do with the degree to which they comply with the expectations of that society. When people do not meet those expectations they are often shamed as crazy, or lacking in good sense, or being delusional. The stigma associated with “mental illness” does not exist in a vacuum, and is not simply an emergent phenomena of human interactions, but rather a deliberate attempt at delegitimizing the suffering of those who do not fit easily within the preconceived and limited “acceptable” ways of being a human.
We are a coming together of people who seek to challenge these ideas, and in doing so create our own language of mental health, one which seeks to empower rather than quiet the voices of those who experience the world in ways that are commonly referred to as “mental illnesses”. We do not believe that these are problems to be solved, or diseases to be cured, but rather natural variances in human experience that should be celebrated. We believe that neurological diversity is valuable and makes our communities stronger by ensuring a variety of viewpoints and abilities are represented within them. We believe that the current psychiatric institutions, because they operate within an environment of social and economic inequalities, are not equipped to assist those most in need of that assistance, and that by reaching out to each other instead we can begin to build a new mental health paradigm, where compassion, self determination, and community support are available to everyone, regardless of economic or social status.
We do not believe that people coming together to help themselves and each other is, independent of this society, a radical notion. We believe that this is the most natural thing for humans to do, because we are a cooperative species, and our health as a whole depends on the health of each individual. That this should be seen as a radical or alternative approach is a reflection of the failure of this society to view those with mental health challenges as being capable of making their own decisions about how best to confront those challenges. Therefore we recognize that in this environment doing so IS a radical act, and so we choose to be unapologetically radical in our approach. We believe that we are our own best advocates, and that we can determine for ourselves and with each other what that paradigm should look like, and we intend to do so.
Our mission is to discover and create together this new language, as well as new ways of caring for ourselves and others with it. We are more than a support group; we are a radical community that seeks to change ourselves by changing our world, rather than the other way around. We envision a world where the differences that make us unique, physically and psychologically, are championed rather than shunned.
We are the Las Vegas Radical Mental Health Collective, and we hope you will join with us in creating this world.
Your uniqueness is essential to it.