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Abla Abdelhadi, a Palestinian activist living and organizing in Ottawa, has been surprised by the lack of support for her in dealing with mental health related issues.
“It’s almost like, ‘Get better, and then when you do get better, come back and join us,’ as if struggling through and surviving through having mental health issues—in a capitalist, colonial, racist society—has no room in our struggles, and we don’t often talk about that,” she said.
Abdelhadi says she experienced criminalization, detainment, forcible hospitalization, assault and torture during her first manic episode while visiting the US two years ago. Since then, she has also experienced ableism within the activist community while dealing with trauma and working to fight her charges, fundraise and find support.
“It was like a wake-up call,” said Abdelhadi. “It…made me realize why we need to talk about community interdependence, and why all our movements have to have disability justice intersecting everything we do.”
“For Abdelhadi, mental health activism needs to be rooted in a framework that recognizes the interconnection of structures of violence and works to dismantle them, drawing upon the analysis of disability justice writer and organizer Mia Mingus, a queer physically-disabled woman of colour. Better access to mental health resources is important, says Abdelhadi, but so is understanding how ableism is interconnected with racism, colonialism, capitalism and cis-gendered heteropatriarchy.”