Tag Archives: conferences

call for speakers for mental health camp vancouver 2011

the 3rd edition of MentalHealthCamp vancouver is happening soon!  on july 23rd, precisely.  the conference is about the intersection between social media and mental health.

is this a topic you’re interested in?  would you like to talk about it, or lead a workshop? 

here’s your chance – our call for speakers.

we are looking for session leaders who speak from personal or professional experience with mental health or mental illness. please note that this is unpaid – we are entirely volunteer-run.

we will have approximately 10 45-minute slots, with 6 slots for prearranged speakers (e.g. approved by the selection committee), and 4 slots for “mental moose” – a continuation of the unconference tradition of moosecamp at northern voice.  during “mental moose”, participants who are interested in leading a session can pitch them on saturday morning with a quick 30-second talk.  everyone will then vote on which sessions will be presented, and the winning sessions will be scheduled.

the theme for this year’s MentalHealthCamp is

DIVERSITY

diversity of opinions
diversity of religion
diversity of ideas on how to deal with mental health
diversity of sexual orientation
diversity in age
diversity in ethnic backgrounds
diversity in socioeconomic status
diversity of ability
and … ? (please feel free to add!)

each one of these topics contains vast, interesting fields in and of themselves. just think of the topic of mental health among british columbia’s south asian population; the diverse/diverging of the radical psychology group (here with another diversity topic: gender and bodily difference); or mental health and christian churches. we could even look at diversity from yet another point of view – adding the topic/twist of mental health to existing bodies of research, such as the growing area of research into tourism and mental health.

since MentalHealthCamp is about the intersection between mental health and social media, speakers and participants will discuss issues that touch on both topics, in whatever weird and wonderful and different ways. also, this will continue to be a grassroots-based event. as long as a speaker has something interesting and constructive to contribute, it is of no consequence whether she or he has a PhD in psychiatry or is a master in the art of living a life touched by mental illness. come one, come all! it is, after all, about diversity. on the other hand, MentalHealthCamp is not an ideal venue for very general talks on stress reduction, time management or the like.

once again, we might also have a virtual session.  if you’re unable to attend the conference in person but have the technical know-how, let’s talk about using technology to bring you right into our conference here in vancouver.

if you’re interested in presenting, please send us a short (100 words or less) description of the proposal, together with a short (50 words or less) bio about yourself by june 16.  please send it to moritherapy at shaw dot ca.

the conference will happen on july 23, 2011, from 8:30am  to 5:00 pm, at vancouver’s gallery gachet http://gachet.org/ at 88 east cordova street .

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

9:35-10:20
room 1
escape from bummer island – imagining a mental health adventure game
by “depression 2.0”

9:35-10:20
room 2
arts based advocacy: sound therapy radio
by jay peachy

9:35-10:20
room 3
mental moose

10:15-11:00
room 1
ripping the scabs off through writing
by steffani cameron

10:15-11:00
room 2
digital outing / mad pride
by steven schwartz

10:15-11:00
room 3
getting by with a little help from our friends
by henry jue

11-11:20 break

11:25-12:10
room 1
mhsm chat – a virtual session about the weekly mental health chat on twitter
by amy kiel

11:25-12:10
room 2
how covenant house’s blog “on the house” helps break the silence around mental health issues
by michelle clausius

11:25-12:10
room 3
mental moose

12:15-1:40 lunch

1:45-2:30
room 1
ADHD and stigma
by pete quily

1:45-2:30
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

1:45-2:30
room 3
mental moose

2:35-3:20
room 1
who gets to talk about mental health? when, where, why, how?
by isabella mori

2:35-3:20
room 2
mental moose

2:35-3:20
room 3
mental moose

3:50-4:25
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

3:50-4:25
room 2
mental moose

3:50-4:25
room 2
mental moose

4:30-5:00 closing statements

who gets to talk about mental health?

on may 18, i asked here on this blog, on twitter and on facebook what you think i should talk about at the upcoming mental health camp. this ended up being the winner:

who gets to speak up about mental health?

in the process of coming up with a useful definition for mental health, we also realized that there are different ideas who “gets” to have a mental illness and who doesn’t. depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder – all these are “accepted” mental illnesses. but what about the mental health of people with addictions, brain injuries, aspergers or ADHD, just to name a few? are they taken seriously when they speak about mental health? and what about the perceived hierarchies among mental illnesses – from anxiety being “better” than schizophrenia to binge eating disorder being more “noble” than a crack addiction?

so i thought today i’d do a bit of thinking out loud about the topic.

it occurred to me that this whole topic is not just about who, but also about when, why, how and what. today, i want to talk about “who.”

who is perceived to have the authority to speak up about mental health? a story comes to mind told be a clinical psychologist who has supervised and taught other psychologists on an international level. “i used to give talks at hospitals,” he said. “often, afterwards, someone would walk up to me and the first thing they’d ask me was whether i was a psychiatrist. when i told them no, i’m a psychologist, they immediately dismissed me and all that i had said.”

it’s almost funny that even at that level, you can’t win; there is a pecking order wherever you go.

so here’s part 1 of the “who” question:

who gets to talk about mental health? mental health professionals, and if yes, what kind? professionals (or “simply” workers) in the helping profession? people with “serious” mental illness; people with any sort of mental illness; people with addiction, etc.? people whose loved ones are experiencing mental illness? everyone?

part 2 is: who do we get to talk about?

ever been to a psych ward and overheard a nurse yelling across the hallway to another nurse, “you better watch your step with joe, he doesn’t want to take his meds again!” that brings up the interesting question of subject and object. who gets to be the subject – the doer, the talker, the actor – and who gets to be the object – the done-to, talked-about, acted-on? can these roles be interchangeable?

in the next few days i’ll talk about the other parts – when, why, how and what. in the meantime, i’d love to hear your opinion, especially:

do you think that in order to talk about mental health (or mental illness), a person needs to be qualified? if so, what are the qualifications?

help me! what should i talk about?

raul and i are gearing up for vancouver’s second mental health camp, the conference about the intersection between mental health and social media.

i’m hoping to give a presentation there. last time the topic of my session was blogging yourself home – using blogging to find a voice, a place, a community.

would you help me decide what i should talk about this time?

we have a topic – it s “breaking our silence. setting us free.” the idea is that silence is a form of stigma, and in order to break free from it, we need to speak up.

with that in mind, i have come up with the following topics:

12 steps online and anonymity
12-step programs are an important part of many people’s recovery. there is alcoholics anonymous, gamblers anonymous, overeaters anonymous, alanon and naranon (for people in relationships with people who drink or take drugs), etc. there are many strong online 12-step groups. the backbone of the 12 steps is anonymity. in their case, it is silence about certain things that sets them free. how does that work? what are the drawbacks?

mental HEALTH – are we silent about it?
there is mental illness, and then there is mental health. in a recent blog post, we started making some inroads into investigating what “mental” health means. one definition we came up with was that mental health is “authentically felt wellbeing in all aspects of one’s inner life and behaviour.” the practice of working towards this wellbeing is something that is alluded to here and there but no-one takes it really seriously. people are constantly encouraged to work towards their physical health through activities such as taking up jogging or eating healthy foods. but when has your boss asked you lately to get a yoga teacher to help you destress or stop drinking coffee to improve your anger management? it’s just not happening. as bloggers and social media people, we often write about great ideas to manage our mental health, but what’s happening in the real world?

is all this social media really setting us free?
social media requires quite a bit of time and commitment. would people with mental health issues be better off using their time away from social media?

bloggers break the silence
for this session, i would survey and report on some mental health bloggers to see how they have broken the silence, and how that has set them free.

who gets to speak up about mental health?
in the process of coming up with a useful definition for mental health, we also realized that there are different ideas who “gets” to have a mental illness and who doesn’t. depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder – all these are “accepted” mental illnesses. but what about the mental health of people with addictions, brain injuries, aspergers or ADHD, just to name a few? are they taken seriously when they speak about mental health? and what about the perceived hierarchies among mental illnesses – from anxiety being “better” than schizophrenia to binge eating disorder being more “noble” than a crack addiction?

action!
this would be an action-oriented workshop, similar to the social justice session at northern voice. what can participants do within the next little while, concretely, that will create more “voices” for people with mental health issues, or make those voices more effective?

okay, people, help me! which presentation should i make?

more on professionalism: insurance, education and organizations

i’d like to follow up on evan’s guest post yesterday, entitled, why professionalism is of the devil. evan blogs at wellbeing and health – this is a topic he’s passionate about.

evan says that his problem lies with professionalism, not with professionals. they lie with professional organizations and all that comes with them.

i think evan raises a number of interesting points. i’m going to address three here.

professional organizations

professional organizations are made up of professionals. granted, the professionals who actively participate in professional organizations are usually just a very small fraction of the professionals they represent. but then this is really similar to democracy, isn’t it? there are only a few people who bother to get involved. and yes, a good portion of those who do get involved are power hungry, busybodies or control freaks.

but not all of them are. many of the people who get involved seriously care about the issue, and seriously want to make something really good happen for the constituency. almost always, there are not nearly enough people to make it all happen, and things turn out to be less-than-ideal.

insurance

insurance is a double-edged sword and i keep dancing around it all the time. we’re talking about risk here. here are the categories i see:

mitigating loss and suffering through making prudent provisions for adverse events

  • that do not happen often but do happen once in a while (car insurance and health insurance are good examples) and which carry small to very large costs
  • that happen very rarely but when they do occur they carry enormous costs (e.g. malpractice suits)
  • that happen very rarely and when they do, they carry small to very large costs (e.g. many forms of home insurance)

of course insurance is much more complicated (just think of all the mind-boggling small print that excludes a myriad of circumstances) but i think the above can be a good first guideline.

i think the operative word above is “prudent”. going without professional insurance that is the equivalent of the first instance is silly. but reaching for insurance in all categories will often hamper the delivery of good service to the patient – simply because often, for all intents and purposes, the client has ceased to be the patient. the client is now the insurance company/companies. we hear a lot of horror stories about that from the U.S. i’m glad i live in canada, where it’s a bit better.

continuing education

evan says, “professions prevent the learning of practitioners.”

i’m not sure about that. all the professional organizations i know require continuing education. this is a topic i’ve often thought about, to a large degree, i think, because of my work with people with chronic conditions (e.g. chronic pain, or depression). medical doctors tend to be quite ill-informed about these health issues. the question, however, is how to help them learn more about it. doctors are helplessly overworked (one could say that being a doctor is in itself a chronic health condition). like anyone else, they want to have leeway in terms of what they do for continuing education. the things they CAN learn more about are endless. so they’re going to pick their battles. and if one of the continuing education courses comes sweetened by a conference – literally sweetened, with rum and cakes – who can blame them for going for it?

what i would like to see there is more patient groups that aggressively go out and find ways for professionals to get continuing education.

is that a pipe dream?

why professionalism (not professionals) is of the devil

this is a guest post by evan hadkins. his blog is wellbeing and health where he writes about all aspects of health (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social) with a bias to psychological health and a focus on practical things to do that can make a real difference. he also has a membership course, living authentically, that begins on monday 13th of october – an eight week course to finding satisfaction through authenticity.

this is probably a bit of a contrarian view to the prevailing one in the healing arts so i want to make two things clear at the outset:

1. i’m not talking about individuals. those i know who practise the healing arts are well motivated and competent. i am not attacking any individual, i am talking about a system of organisation.
2. i’m talking about professionalism as it exists. some people regard “professionalism” as meaning practise that is both ethical and skilful. i naturally have no objection to “professionalism” understood in this way.

what do i mean by “professionalism”?

it is a system of organising practitioners (my interest is in the practitioners of healing arts) that is characterised by conferences, insurance policies, meetings, codes of conduct and associations.

why is “professionalism” of the devil?
1. the devil lies. the prestige of the professions, rather than those who just ‘hold down a jobs’, is meant to be due to the profession being dedicated to the care of the client first.

in fact professional associations are dedicated to looking after their members first. (this is not a bad thing – it is just a bad thing to lie about it and say that they are dedicated to clients’ needs first.)

if the professions were dedicated to clients’ needs first we would see the healing arts primarily given for free. we would see practitioners on the same incomes as those their clients.

anyone who has brought a complaint against a member of an association will have experienced the hoops that need to be jumped through. it is by no means the rule that the person in the first instance is supported – sometimes they are not believed.

2. the devil doesn’t heal but destroys. the processes used when a complaint is brought are usually legalistic and often enough abusive. for these kinds of processes to be used in the healing arts is scandalous. it is inconsistent with the mission to heal.

3. professions prevent the learning of practitioners. members of professional association are constrained by rules. it is usually necessary to abide by these rules in order to obtain professional practise insurance.

these rules are based on past experience, sometimes called ‘evidence based’. for an art to progress it needs to learn. but these codes are not devoted to the encouragement of innovation. they are instead devoted to encourage routines. (what else could be codified?) this is hardly the way to put first the needs of individuals.

when a professional is asked to defend their practise (say in a court of law) the defense is mounted in terms of consistency with others and the prevailing rules. this clearly is not a learning process.

4. which brings us to all those conferences.
if they are so worthwhile and necessary why are professional development points necessary? how many professionals have had their practise revolutionised this year by what they learnt at a conference? ok then, five years? ten? during their working life?

it is ok for people to get together with those in the same profession. gossip and so on can oil the wheels or interaction. it’s great to get together with those with common interests. but the idea that this is the way to improve the practise of healing is an altogether different claim.

if the professionals are so dedicated to learning and the information so valuable then their should be no reason for compelling people to attend – by requiring people to earn professional development points.

which was the last professional conference in the healing arts that was a genuinely healing experience for those who attended? they may exist, they are very far from being the general rule.

neither are these conferences particularly good educational practise. the gluteus maximus is not the primary organ of learning. sitting around listening to someone read a paper is not the best way to learn. that the healing arts, which want to present themselves as wholistic, adopt this approach is so ludicrous that it defies belief.

professionalism is of the devil because:

  • it puts the needs of the professionals before those of the clients’ while claiming to put the clients’ needs first.
  • the structures and processes of professionalism impede learning and stop improvement in healing.

my hope in writing this post is to encourage thinking about better ways to organise healing and healers. contrary views are very welcome. looking forward to seeing your comments discussing ways forward.