Tag Archives: activism

speaker line-up for mental health camp

yay! we now have the speakers list and topics for mental health camp, the conference about the intersection between social media and mental health.  more information on the topics will trickle in by the end of june.  if you want to sign up to come to this conference, go to our eventbrite page.  there will also be a busy twitter stream – watch out for more information about that!

if you wonder what “mental moose” is – they are opportunities for people to propose sessions the morning of the conference. the sessions will be voted on by participants, and the proposals with the most votes will be slotted into the available times. they are called “mental moose” in nostalgic memory of northern voice’s moosecamp.

here is the line-up:

9-9:30 keynote

room 1
escape from bummer island – imagining a mental health adventure game
by “depression 2.0”

room 2
arts based advocacy: sound therapy radio
by jay peachy

room 3
mental moose

room 1
ripping the scabs off through writing
by steffani cameron

room 2
digital outing / mad pride
by steven schwartz

room 3
getting by with a little help from our friends
by henry jue

11-11:20 break

room 1
mhsm chat – a virtual session about the weekly mental health chat on twitter
by amy kiel

room 2
how covenant house’s blog “on the house” helps break the silence around mental health issues
by michelle clausius

room 3
mental moose

12:15-1:40 lunch

room 1
ADHD and stigma
by pete quily

room 2
panel: being ‘out’ about various forms of mental illness such as bipolar disorder, eating disorders, ADD, and post-partum depression
by terra, steve, steff and catherine

room 3
mental moose

room 1
who gets to talk about mental health? when, where, why, how?
by isabella mori

room 2
mental moose

room 3
mental moose

room 1
the power of words and the power of bikes – a journalist goes on a bicycle tour to raise awareness of mental health
by michael schratter

room 2
mental moose

room 2
mental moose

4:30-5:00 closing statements

rising up to end stigma

as you know, i am a proud member of the canadian mental health association. i am even prouder to announce that a participant advisory committee, that is, individuals who are using the services of the CMHA vancouver/burnaby branch, is hosting an event for people living with mental illness and those affected by it to talk about ways to fight the stigma and discrimination around mental illness. if you’re like me and get excited about grassroots initiatives, please come and visit! here is the full information

rising up to end stigma

please join us at our 2009 participants forum
tuesday november 3, 2009

this is an opportunity for individuals living with mental illness, family members and professionals
to engage in dialogue and share ideas about how we can each be involved in fighting the stigma and
discrimination associated with mental illness.


a 2-hour forum with speakers and plenty of opportunity for participant feedback and idea sharing.

with complimentary snacks and beverages

tuesday, november 3, 2009 – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

muti-media room
roundhouse community centre, vancouver bc
right off the new canada sky train line

wayne cho who from may 2008 to june 2009 ran across canada to raise awareness of anxiety and depression.

andrew kellett fraser health peer mental health advocate

hosted by the CMHA VB participant’s advisory committee

please RSVP by november 2, 2009

604-682-3269 ext. 8479

scriptio divina

in a guest post at alison’s blog writing mental illness, i discuss the idea of scriptio divina, or spiritual writing. here is a little excerpt:

i don’t think it’s possible to truly connect with ourselves and with the divine (whatever you want to call it; from the traditional christian god to the new age universe to the values held dear by atheists) without connecting with what’s going on in the rest of the world and engaging in some sort of social activism, however modest.

you might also enjoy a little poetry in that post.

blog action day

october 15 is blog action day.

blog action day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. the aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

the goal

first and last, the purpose of blog action day is to create a discussion. bloggers are asked to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

by doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue.

out of this discussion naturally flow ideas, advice, plans, and action. in 2007 on the theme of the environment, we saw bloggers running environmental experiments, detailing innovative ideas on creating sustainable practices, and focusing their audience’s attention on organizations and companies promoting green agendas. in 2008 we covered the theme of poverty, and similarly focused the blogging community’s energies around discussing the wide breadth of the issue from many perspectives and identifying innovative and unexpected solutions. this year we aim to do the same for climate change, an issue that threatens us all.

how you can help

from the smallest online journals to huge online magazines, blog action day is about mass participation. anyone is free to join in on blog action day and there is no limit on the number of posts, the type of posts or the direction of thoughts and opinions.

how it all started

blog action day was founded by collis & cyan ta’eed in the summer of 2007. with the support of their team at envato in australia as well as numerous volunteers, they recruited over 20,000 bloggers to write about the issue of environment on october 15, 2007 – making the first blog action day an immediate and quite unexpected success.

in 2009, collis and cyan asked the team at change.org, the world’s leading blog network for social issues, to take over responsibility of blog action day and expand its reach. we were honored to accept the offer.

want to participateÉ click on the image at the beginning of the post.

MentalHealthCamp – the power of social media

here are my opening notes to MentalHealthCamp yesterday; they followed raul’s great introduction to the workings of social media.  we decided that he would be the social media guy and i’d be the mental health gal.  (how well raul and i worked together deserves a whole post by itself).

i managed to present most of what’s in the notes; the rest of it got substituted by slightly teary-eyed stumbled-over words about suicide.

here we go:

· 20% of canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. that’s about 3 times the people that live in greater vancouver.
· in the US, it is estimated that every hour, three people take their own lives.
· almost 50% of those who suffer from depression or anxiety never see a health professional. for bc alone, that’s equivalent to the population of all of burnaby, all suffering in silence
· the economic cost of mental illnesses in canada is $15 billion. that is $1 more than the british columbia government is planning on spending on 88,000 jobs to stimulate the economy
· the british columbia government just cut psychiatric and mental health beds and mental health treatment programs. staff in the adult mental health division will be cut by 70 percent and the mental health advocate position was eliminated.

okay, enough of this statistical gloominess. most of us know it already anyway. we can lament it – or we can do something about it.

one of the reasons why i love cyberspace and have been fascinated with it for almost 25 years now is that it transcends. it transcends geographical boundaries, that we all know. but it transcends way more boundaries than that.

the internet is the nervous system of this planet, says the hippy internet manifesto. if that’s the case, then of course it transcends everything because it is everything. there’s no places the nervous system won’t go.

consequently, there are no places we here won’t go because we are the internet. raul and sandra and terra everyone here, we are the internet. it’s quite heady when you think of it. you know how they always say, we are the nation? well, in cyberspace that’s true in a strangely real way.

so – if we are the internet, and if we are the people who transcend, what does that mean for mental health and mental illness?

it means that the stigma that traditionally comes with mental illness does not need to be a scarlet letter anymore; we can declare this stigma a mistake that arose out of misunderstanding, and we’re amply equipped to fix it.

it means you, and most importantly i, can get the message out that depression and anxiety can often be cured, and can always be managed.

why do i say, “most importantly, i”? it’s not because i am a terribly important person in the internet but it’s because of what a famous rabbi said hundreds of years ago, “if not i, who?” i’m the most important person because i need to take responsibility.

we are all taking responsibility today. we’re ready to deal with the mistake of stigma.

we’re ready to say out loud that it’s crazy – yes, crazy – that six million canadians feel afraid of discussing an illness that’s even more common than asthma. yes, as many canadians are dealing with lung disease as are with mental illness. it’s totally ok for your daughter to bring her inhaler to school. but when your 11-year-old son wants to bring his teddy bear when anxiety hits him, people laugh.

that’s not okay!

i brought my stuffy, by the way. her name is sarah. everyone, meet sarah (that’s her in the picture above). when i feel confused or panicked in the middle of the night. i hug her.

okay … what else are we responsible for? we are, clearly, not responsible for people taking their own lives. this tragic decision is very personal and is always, always, the sole decision of the person in question.

however, most people who take their own lives are unimaginably lonely. we can bring community to people. we can be available. we can be inclusive. that’s the power of social media.

as for the ridiculous lack of financial support for people with mental illness, that’s – well, ridiculous.

the internet gives us power to speak. we can talk to the government, we can lobby – we have the power to do that. i’m not saying it’s easy, but we do have power. the rise of obama showed how the internet changed election coverage and therefore influenced election outcomes. we have this power in our hands. we can lobby and influence.

but there’s another side to it, too, and that brings me back to this conference. there’s a sense in which we don’t need the government.

remember, we are the central nervous system.

when we feel so inclined, let’s go lobby the government.

but that’s not what we’re doing right now.

i believe that what we’re doing right here is more powerful than trying to change the mind of a slow-moving government.

it took us two months, pretty much to the day, to dream up this conference and to bring you here, to this event that i’d like to humbly submit is groundbreaking, definitely the first of its kind. we didn’t need a government, we didn’t need money, we just said let’s do it and here we are.

that is the power of social media. let’s use it.

international day of peace

phil ochs in new work in the sixtiessomehow i missed that today is the international day of peace.  i’m about to go to bed but want to at least pay some hommage to it; thanks to clark’s picks to remind me!  he has a video on his blog of peter, paul and mary singing “there but for fortune“.  it’s a song i grew up with, one that still speaks deeply to my heart.  here are the lyrics, written by great american folk singer and activist phil ochs:

show me the prison, show me the jail
show me the prisoner, whose life has gone stale
and i’ll show you a young man
with so many reasons why
and there but for fortune, go you or i ….

show me the alley, show me the train
show me the hobo, who sleeps out in the rain
and i’ll show you a young man
with so many reasons why
and there but for fortune, go you or i …

show me the whiskey, stains on the floor
show me the drunkard, as he stumbles out the door
and i’ll show you a young man
with so many reasons why
and there but for fortune go you or i …

show me the country, where the bombs had to fall
show me the ruins of the buildings, once so tall
and i’ll show you a young land
with so many reasons why
and there but for fortune go you and i, you and i.

image by kptyson

blogathon: blogging for the canadian mental health association

bill* started participating with CMHA’s recreation program in 1999. his first event was a four-day camping trip with four staff and twenty-three other participants who he had never met before. bill made an instant impression though – he wore a big black cowboy hat and bermuda shorts, and displayed a genuine appreciation for the opportunity to be out of the city and surrounded by nature. he joked with staff, and entertained the night owls who encircled the campfire until the wee hours. ever since that first camping trip, bill has been a regular participant with recreation services.

to this day he still exhibits the enthusiasm that was so apparent back on the first event he attended. over the years bill has shared much of his personal story, and it has become apparent why he has such a love for life.he has overcome many obstacles to be where he is today. from his teenage years forward, he was in trouble. he was kicked out of several high schools and did over twenty stints in jail before he was 21 years old.

bill was stealing to buy drugs that he now realizes he used to ‘self-medicate’ his mental illness. bill beat the odds though. he credits a stint in riverview hospital with helping him kick his addictions and begin his recovery from mental illness. he was properly supported in the community when transitioning out of the hospital with group housing and ongoing one-to-on rehabilitation.he overcame all of his addictions – today he doesn’t even smoke. he recently converted to a low fat diet after being informed that he has high cholesterol levels.

compared to the lifestyle changes he has made in the past, giving up burgers and fries was a snap. the recreation program is an important component to bill’s recovery, and continues to be a part of his life to this day. whether it’s a bc lions’ football game, a movie, or a barbecue in the park, bill gets everything he can from life – although now he usually opts for the veggie dog!

* stories are based on actual individuals but names and identifying information have been altered to protect the anonymity of our service users.

each year, the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch) supports over 1000 people in their recovery from mental illness, while promoting understanding and knowledge throughout the community to literally thousands more.

mental illness affects people from all walks of life, at every income and age level. mental illness has a significant impact not only on the person directly affected, but also on family members, friends, employers, and the public at large. more often than not, people with a mental illness find their opportunities limited and their recovery impaired by a lack of support, information, and understanding.

CMHA’s response to the crisis of mental illness in our community is uniquely wide-ranging, from prevention, education, and information services, right through to rehabilitation and community support to those recovering from illness. We have a track record of developing many of the most innovative and effective new approaches available in the community today.

through varied services the CMHA addresses key challenges surrounding mental illness:

  1. preventing illness & distress: by supporting healthy lifestyles of those at risk
  2. tackling stigma & ignorance: by providing the confidence to recognize and respond
  3. reducing isolation: by developing the skills and opportunities to meet personal goals
  4. creating independence: by supporting employment and entrepreneurial aspirations

and this, ladies and gentlemen, is why i just spent 24 hours blogging. i am proud to be part of this organization, as a member of CMHA vancouver/burnaby’s board of directors.

if you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment – no, not 24 hours, just a moment – to learn a bit more about the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch), and please consider a donation .

(here i am, blogging away)

i would also once again like to acknowledge and thank, thank, thank my fellow bloggers who blogged for their own charities – from union gospel mission the to david suzuki foundation. it’s been a blast!

in vancouver, pulled together by the marvelous miss604:

and, thanks to the efforts of day of blogs, people all over the internet:

animal rights
trish is blogging for bay state equine rescue .
is blogging for the aspca .
kristin is blogging for the aspca .
the kapp pack
is blogging for mapaw siberian husky rescue .
erica is blogging for the aspca .
ellie is blogging for the aspca .
miss raye is blogging for wild horse rescue .
steve, kat, & wilbur are blogging for save our siberians siberspace rescue fund .
amie is blogging for world wildlife federation .
clairity is blogging for the aspca .
melissa is blogging for vital ground .
rachel is blogging for paws atlanta .

human rights
twyla is blogging for not for sale .
malagasy bloggers are blogging for zaza-vavy .
hilary is blogging for amnesty international .
brittany is blogging for invisible children .
starbase karma sci fi fan club is blogging for us campaign for burma .

poverty relief
jessica is blogging for sera je food fund .
linda is blogging for the christian children’s fund .

khouria jen is blogging for first book .
lindsey is blogging for first book .
lindsey is blogging for children’s literacy initiative .
shadarus is blogging for first book.

children/youth advocacy
karrie is blogging for the home for little wanderers .
nicki is blogging for camp to belong .
jeff is blogging for the tim horton children’s foundation .
tara is blogging for victory junction gang camp .
penni is blogging for the kasey kahne foundation .
jenny is blogging for the american society for deaf children .
crc is blogging for children’s hospice & palliative care coalition .

medical research
nikki is blogging for band of parents .
stephen is blogging for the autism clinic at montreal children’s hospital .
[title of group] is blogging for avert .
jen is blogging for st. jude children’s research hospital .
jessi is blogging for autism speaks .
jen is blogging for the american cancer society .
jl is blogging for aicr .
stefanie is blogging for st. jude’s children’s research hospital .
jennifer is blogging for amyloidosis research foundation .
aurora lamour is blogging for the national fibromyalgia association .
adam is blogging for the american cancer society .
bunni is blogging for band of parents.

renee is blogging for the depression and bipolar support alliance .
jennifer is blogging for jenny’s light .
scheherazade in blue jeans is blogging for the boston area rape crisis center .
marika is blogging for the national fibromyalgia association .
ellen is blogging for the american foundation for suicide prevention .
josie is blogging for guide dogs for the blind .
l-squared is blogging for leader dogs for the blind .
jenna is blogging for texas scottish rite hospital .
mj is blogging for helping uplift grieving survivors (hugs) .
clutterbug jen is blogging for the american cancer society .
reixe dyri is blogging for alzheimer’s association .
heather is blogging for national alliance on mental illness .
hope is blogging for rainn .
elizabeth is blogging for rainn .
gina is blogging for rainn .
moira is blogging for teenage cancer trust .
becky is blogging for rainn .
anna is blogging for planned parenthood mohawk hudson .
letterblade is blogging for planned parenthood .
isabella is blogging for canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch) .
cara is blogging for rainn .
melissa is blogging for kristen brooks hope center .
erin is blogging for rainn .