Peer Self-Advocacy (PSA)
In the Peer Self-Advocacy program (PSA), people with mental health disabilities share experiences. They help their peers speak up, make decisions, help each other and live the lives they choose. We reach out to the community. We hold self-advocacy groups and trainings where people live and in the community. The PSA knows change can and does happen.
California Memorial Project
We help fight the mental health stigma and discrimination we experience as peers by remembering those who came before us. Our California Memorial Project holds annual Remembrance Day ceremonies on the third Monday of September. These ceremonies honor people with mental health and developmental disabilities who lived and died in state institutions without the acknowledgement and respect they deserved. We also place memorial monuments throughout the state on hospital grounds or local cemeteries where people from these institutions were buried. Our plans include restoring these cemeteries, collecting personal stories from people who lived in institutions and creating a video about the project and the history of the peer movement. California Memorial Project website.
"Over 45,000 people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities died while living at a California state hospital or developmental center between the 1880’s and 1960’s. Many were buried anonymously in unmarked or mass graves and did not receive recognition or acknowledgment as human beings, in life or in death.
"For decades, patients who entered the gates of California mental hospitals were all but cut off from the rest of society – even after death.
From the 1880s into the 1960s, the lives of about 45,000 patients at Napa State Hospital and other state institutions ended not with a casket and headstone, but with unmarked graves or the scattering of anonymous ashes in obscure fields.
"Below a simple granite headstone in a peaceful section of the Russian River Cemetery in Ukiah lie the remains of hundreds of people, a reminder of a dark, 80-year period during which people confined to the local state mental hospital during life were, after death, buried in unmarked graves, then forgotten.
“Let no person ever be laid to rest without recognition,” the headstone reads in part.
"Annual ceremony remembers state hospital patients buried in mass graves
A small group gathered at the Ukiah cemetery Monday to pay their respects to thousands of people whose lives ended with little or no notice.
"No one should be thrown away like so much garbage, like their time on earth meant nothing," said Ruth Valenzuela, a representative of state Sen. Wes Chesbro (D-Arcata). "Everyone deserves a final resting place that says they were here and they mattered."