The Disability Law Center (DLC) is the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy agency for Massachusetts. In this role, DLC receives funding from the Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Program.
As required by the federal mandate, an Advisory Council was established to advise the DLC on priorities and issues important to people who are knowledgeable about mental health services in the Commonwealth. The Council also provides information to others about the mission, purpose and priorities of the DLC. Council members consist of a diverse group of representatives from the community.
Meetings are held quarterly at the DLC. All meetings are open to the public, except for when meetings are closed to discuss litigation or other matters which are confidential.
Council Against Institutional & Psychiatric Abuse Philosophy
People labeled mentally ill have the same rights as any citizen. However, additional protections through state and federal legislation have also been put in place due to the fear and discrimination that consumers of mental health services regularly face.
We believe that self-advocacy should be the first avenue of recourse to correct rights violations. But stigma and prejudice are so pervasive that self-advocacy efforts are often unsuccessful. Attempts by people labeled mentally ill to promote change or redress wrongs are too often ignored or minimized.
DLC believes that advocacy means to plead the cause of another, as defined by that individual, because that person is not listened to in her or his own right. Our advocacy efforts are defined by the person. This philosophy of avid advocacy also drives our CAIPA’s mission, composition, outreach and screening process. People labeled ‘mentally ill’ comprise the majority of Council’s membership. All potential candidates are screened for their respect for and commitment to individual rights.
Current CAIPA work:
Current CAIPA Priorities:
Priority 1: Expansion of the Circulation of CAIPA Publications for distribution in an equitable manner (see also Priority 4)
Priority 2: Creating and expanding avenues to continue to shine light on human rights abuses in psychiatric inpatient and residential settings
Priority 3: Education and Trainings That Prioritize the Experience and Wisdom of Impacted Persons
Priority 4: Demonstrable Commitment to Greater Equity in Access of Existing DLC Resources, including creating other formats to share information (including creating short videos available in different formats and languages)
Priority 5: Communicating rights to people engaging in emergency and and crisis responses systems, including 988 and during emergency room holds prior to transfer to a psychiatric facility
Priority 6: Strengthen legislation, and create accessible information and educational opportunities specifically on the right to informed consent, what it means, and the relationship between lack of informed consent and coercion.
Sera Davidow, CAIPA Chair
Interested in becoming a CAIPA Advisory Council member?
To apply to become a CAIPA Advisory Council member, complete an online application form below.