I’m Not Invisible: Envisioning Rights-Centered Care

First-episode psychosis can strip away one's identity, obscure one’s history, and shatter one’s vision for the future. And often, this process happens through contact with the mental health system, rather than the condition itself.

At just 17 years old, Leah Giorgini found herself navigating a descent to invisibility after a traumatic childhood marred with violence, neglect, and parental death led to a first episode of psychosis. Once a high achiever, Leah became a patient adrift from the world, paralyzed by antipsychotic medication and low expectations. However, when a progressive therapist lent Leah a book about Feminist Perspectives on Mental Health, Leah suddenly felt seen as a whole person in context and began to reemerge as a visible and capable individual.

Now an Occupational Therapist working in nonprofit leadership, Leah is working to change the societal inequities that lead to and perpetuate human suffering. She will present her story and outline how connecting the dots of trauma, intersectionality, and occupation can lead to rights-based care that helps people feel seen and empowered. 

By the end of this training, participants will be able to: 

  1. Describe the importance of acknowledging intersectionality in mental health care, particularly in understanding how various aspects of identity, such as gender, race, and socioeconomic status, intersect with experiences of psychosis and recovery. 
  2. Describe the role of occupation in the recovery process for individuals with first-episode psychosis, and understand how occupational therapy principles can be integrated into rights-based care approaches to support individuals in regaining agency and meaning in their lives. 
  3. Identify the key factors contributing to the social invisibility experienced by individuals with first-episode psychosis, including the impact of interactions with the mental health system. 

About the Presenter:

Leah is a British-Indonesian immigrant who moved from England to the United States in 2016. As a psychiatric survivor, domestic violence survivor, former foster youth, and a person who has previously experienced homelessness, Leah is working towards a world free of oppression and injustice. She believes that promoting psychological and social approaches to psychosis is equity in action towards this vision. 

Trained as an Occupational Therapist, Leah primarily worked in clinical mental health settings until she came to the United States, where she found a home working in nonprofit leadership. Leah has worked in an array of settings with people diagnosed with psychosis, including working in early intervention in psychosis, assertive outreach, a mental health recovery café, a high-secure forensic hospital, and homeless emergency shelters. She currently serves as Executive Director of the US Chapter of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS-US.) 


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