We believe that within each and every person lies an innate wisdom — an “inner compass”. This wisdom, when listened to, helps us to navigate the difficulties of being human. But the mental health industry, with its medicalized model of “mental illness” and “mental health”, its pharmaceuticalized and institutionalized standards of care, its massive promotional and public relations apparatus, its legalized authority, and its professionalization of help, has influenced many of us to ignore and lose touch with this inner wisdom.
Inner Compass Initiative strives to contribute towards everyone reclaiming wisdom, knowledge and power, both within us as individuals and between us in our relationships and communities. We work to support individuals to engage in curious, critical, independent self-education and inner exploration, and collectively, to help develop more interconnected, empowered and resilient grassroots communities.
A future of interconnected individuals and communities flourishing beyond psychiatric drugs and diagnoses.
Our Guiding Principles and Values
- We believe that mental and emotional struggle arise in the broader context of what is happening to and around people in their lives. Social and economic circumstances, corrupt or otherwise unjust institutions and authorities, corporate influence, generational and personal stressors and traumas, and access to nutritious food and nature all play critical roles in shaping the way we feel and think. Working to remove corrupt interests from the institutions tasked with shaping our social order, and establish more just, equitable, and creatively and ideologically diverse societies, are vitally important to everyone’s well-being.
- We believe that the knowledge, approaches and contributions of people who are not medical or mental health professionals — such as current and former psychiatric patients, artists, political thinkers, cultural critics, philosophers, and spiritual seekers — are too often marginalized or ignored in public discussions about meeting the spiritual, mental and emotional challenges of being human.
- We believe that we all have a right to make our own choices about how to take care of ourselves, but that true choice is only possible when it’s fully informed and when we have awareness of and access to true options and alternatives.
- We believe that we all have a right to protect the integrity of our own minds, spirits and bodies against forced or coercive psychiatric intervention.
Inner Compass Initiative helps people make more informed choices about psychiatric diagnoses and drugs and build community with like-minded others thinking critically about today's mental health industry.
Who We Are and How We’re Funded
Inner Compass Initiative (ICI) is a U.S.-based, tax-deductible 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are supported entirely by private individuals and families who believe in our cause, including current support from the Healthy Choice Fund, and past support from the Michael Fund. We are actively seeking to grow our base of support so that we can sustain ourselves into the future and reach more people in need. (If you would like to support us with a one-time or recurring donation, you can do so here.)
We are not a “mental health” organization; we are a public education and community-building organization. We come to this work through our own personal encounters with and experiences in the mental health system, whether as patients, family members and friends of patients, independent researchers, or critically-minded practitioners. Our core team is comprised of a full-time Executive Director and a small number of part-time paid and volunteer staff.
Though we have sometimes received comments and feedback from medical, pharmacological, and clinical practitioners of different kinds as we’ve created this website, and some of our team members, contributors, and volunteers may work as practitioners, all of the final editorial decisions related to the content on this website have been made by laypeople and are provided for general educational purposes only. None of the information and resources at Inner Compass Initiative or The Withdrawal Project constitutes or should be seen as medical, mental health, counseling, clinical or professional advice of any kind.
View our Team, Contributors and Volunteers.
What We’re Doing
ICI currently has the following projects underway:
The Withdrawal Project (TWP). TWP is an information resource designed to help people empower themselves to make more meaningfully informed choices — aligned with their personal desires and needs — regarding taking, reducing, and coming off psychiatric drugs. TWP's website includes a free, comprehensive, self-directed Companion Guide to Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal aimed at helping people learn and make decisions about the most risk-minimizing ways to prepare for tapering off and more responsibly taper off antidepressants, benzodiazepines, stimulants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, Z-drugs and other psychiatric drugs, along with coping techniques for dealing with common withdrawal symptoms.
Inner Compass Conversations. At the start of the COVID crisis, we began regular livestream conversations and Q&As inside a private Facebook community. As of Summer 2022, we have 70 archived videos that cover a wide variety of topics, including psychiatric diagnoses and self, coping with psychiatric drug withdrawal, how to support someone in the process of coming off medications, and many more.
Inner Compass Exchange. Our newest initiative, launched in Fall 2022, provides space for community members to support one another, organize virtual and in-person groups and events, and engage in conversation about the immediate and longer-term questions, concerns, and challenges that arise from taking or coming off psychiatric drugs, receiving psychiatric diagnoses, or otherwise engaging with the mental health industry.
Learn/Unlearn. This section of our website includes accessible, critical analyses of the mechanisms of action, effectiveness, safety and harms of the major classes of psychiatric drugs. It also includes an ever-expanding collection of articles that provide insights into the science and marketing of psychiatric drugs, the construction and promotion of psychiatric diagnoses, and alternative ways of understanding and moving through mental and emotional challenges.
ICI Connect. This one-on-one networking tool helps people who are asking questions or thinking critically about the mental health system find and connect with each other online or in person. Through geographical and interest-based searching, registered members can search for other members who live nearby to spark new friendships or collaborations, exchange mutual support, organize events or groups, set up crisis networks, or begin to build grassroots community alternatives to the mental health system.
TWP Connect. This one-on-one networking tool hosted on ICI’s Withdrawal Project website allows registered members who are thinking about, are in the process of, or have past experiences of reducing or coming off psychiatric drugs to find and connect with one another. TWP Connect facilitates mutual support, the sharing of helpful resources and tips, in-person meetings, and hope and inspiration between members.
How You Can Join Us
Inner Compass Initiative is a grassroots collective effort whose growth and impact depend on you. The experiences you’ve lived, the hardships you’ve faced, the roadblocks you’ve had to navigate, the lessons you’ve learned, the awakenings you’ve felt or are in the midst of, and your voice — however confidently loud or hesitantly soft it may feel to you — are vital to making change happen.
You may be a current or ex-psychiatric patient, or a family member or friend of someone struggling in the mental health system. Perhaps you are an awakening or already critically-minded practitioner, a non-Western healer, or a researcher. Maybe you’re a veteran or active duty service member with experience of the Veterans Administration psychiatric system. You could be an educator, a philosopher, a journalist, an artist... If you share the values and vision of Inner Compass Initiative, we welcome you.