|Photo: Sandra Strangemore
Madness isn’t just a label or a category. And Lucy Costa wants to change our perception of what “mad” actually is — as a scholar, researcher, and activist.
“Mad” is an emerging discipline that examines the lived experiences of those with psychiatric disorders and challenges the way we look at mental illness. Costa has spent close to a decade working for the Empowerment Council, which is part of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. It advocates for those with psychiatric disorders and is fighting for equality, human rights, and social justice. …
This is a group of people, after all, that is often overlooked or misunderstood.And last year, Costa — who is considered both a leader and a role model in the psychiatric community — was recognized for her work with an Access Award for Disability Issues from the City of Toronto. “I used psychiatric services myself,” says Costa. “From that standpoint I was able to have a better sense of view of what accessing services means, and it was something more than just the journey through diagnostic categories and labels.” …
Despite full-time employment and her work with several other organizations, Costa has also found time to pursue her LLM at Osgoode Hall Law School. Part of the reason behind her decision to attend Osgoode was an interest in bridging the discipline of law and the emerging discipline of mad studies….
Universities are starting to offer courses in mad studies, including Ryerson and York, and Costa recently wrote a chapter in a book called Mad Matters, published by the Canadian Scholars’ Press. “It’s an extension of the work that I do but in a more scholarly effort,” Costa says of her studies.world where hospitals face budget constraints and fewer options are available in the community for people with psychiatric disorders….
Costa has inspired many others in the mad community to fight alongside her to raise consciousness of mental-health narratives, make rights accessible to people in a way they can understand, and promote equity for those with psychiatric disorders.
That’s why real-life experience is so important in a school setting. “You have to understand the legislation, but you also need to know what it’s like [within the system],” she says. “Kudos to Osgoode because they have an interdisciplinary approach.”…