Will Hall


Will Hall is an advocate, counselor, and educator who has worked for human rights in mental health for more than eight years. After experiencing unusual and distressing states of consciousness since childhood, Will was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder schizophrenia when he was forcibly hospitalized at age 26. He spent a year in San Francisco's public mental health system, including locked wards, multiple psychiatric medications, restraints, and solitary confinement. When the treatments he received only resulted in more trauma and greater problems, Will began a ten year long search for alternatives. Today his wellness tools include meditation, nutrition, yoga, and peer support. and he is is a leading voice in the movement to embrace mental diversity and welcome the creative and spiritual possibilities in madness. Will is co-founder of the Freedom Center, a Northampton, MA support, advocacy, and activism community run by and for people labeled with severe mental disorders. Freedom Center has provided free advocacy, support, and wellness options to hundreds of people, including peer counseling, a yoga class, free acupuncture clinic, writing groups, legal advocacy, protests, and public educational events. Freedom Center has received coverage in local, national, and international press, has received Community Development Block funding from the city of Northampton, and Will was honored with the Disability Advocacy Award by the Stavros Center for Independent Living. In 2002 Will and a colleague initiated organizing efforts to found Valley Free Radio WXOJ-LP FM in Northampton, and he is producer and host of Madness Radio, an interview format program syndicated on the Pacifica Network and heard on FM radio stations around the country. Will also is on the co-coordinator collective of The Icarus Project, a national mutual aid support network of people labeled with bipolar and other diagnoses who challenge the idea of madness as disorder or disease. The Icarus Project brings together thousands of members who are embracing their extreme states of consciousness as mad gifts to be nurtured and cultivated, and struggling to live outside of and against the narrow medical framework of illness and treatment through art, spirituality, holistic health, and social activism. Will's writing has appeared in The Nation, Greenpeace Magazine, Utne Reader, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Adbusters, Turning Wheel Journal of Engaged Buddhism, the Sierra Club anthology Call To Action: A Handbook for Peace, Justice, and Ecology, and in the anthology Way of Out Madness: Dealing With Your Family After Being Diagnosed with a Psychiatric Disorder. He has been interviewed in the Newsweek article Listening To Madness, and by the New York Times, Radio New Zealand, and NPR Weekend Edition. He has consulted with Mental Disability Rights International and taught and given presentations and trainings in 7 countries, including Holland and Argentina.

Will has been involved in peace, justice, and environmental movements since he was a teenager, and is passionately committed to social and personal change following the wisdom of nature. He is Choctaw Indian on his mother's side, and his father is a Korean War veteran and also a psychiatric abuse survivor. A long-time meditator and yoga practitioner, Will is studying Process Oriented Psychology, a Jungian based method of individual and collective growth, and is a counselor in private practice, with clients locally in Portland Oregon and by phone. More information at Will's website, www.willhall.net