Oor Mad History by Kirsten Maclean

Kirsten made short talk at the 12th of June event.  She is a social historian and has been working on Oor Mad History a community history project about the history of activism by mental health service users in Lothian.  Service user led and supported by NHS Lothian, we look at ways of using community history and the arts to strengthen the service user voice and movement today and in the future.

Oor Mad History project
The book which was published

We also aim to challenge assumptions about people who use mental health services.  We interviewed over 70 activists and supporters of the movement and gathered material from Lothian and beyond to create a paper based and oral history archive.

We have written a book about our history and developed a touring exhibition which has featured at the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Recently we have begun a community development project with the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University Toronto which offer a course in”Mad People’s History”.



Oor Mad History is a community history project which has run in Edinburgh and the Lothians, put together by volunteers who have been involved in advocacy. Kirsten Maclean is a Community History Worker who was pivotal in helping coordinate it.     The project celebrates the achievements of the mental health service user movement in the Lothians and aims to provide a space in which to preserve our history

Working with people to record oral history interviews – the interviewers are volunteers who use or who have used mental health services.  These interviews and perspectives are used to create and organise an archive of written material so that we can look back, acknowledge achievements, learn from mistakes, and better understand our ability to make a difference.
Knowing our history strengthens us as groups of mental health service users and helps us fight for further improvements and progress.  This also benefits people who work with people with mental health problems, people who do mental health training and education, and people who research topics to do with mental health problems, disability, involvement, health and care, services, stigma and discrimination, social inclusion…

This history is important, and the voices contained in it are vital for everyone interested in a better, more enlightened future. Much inspiration came from the work Ryerson University put on Youtube…


Leave a comment


email* (not published)