Tag Archives: mental health camp

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 .

links: psychology, morality, social media and dogs

in my long-suffering attempts to organize my internet life better, i’m going to see what it’s like if i post the occasional link article.  so here’s a stroll through the links open on august 1, with the first paragraph of each post so that you can get an idea what it’s all about.  you may even end up reading something!

gifted relationships: on being “too much” to the right of the curve

for most of my life, finding friends and work that honored my intensity and intelligence wasn’t an issue for me.

make my psychotherapy plain, but with a twist
by tom ellis, PsyD, ABPP on july 23, 2010

jon allen‘s post “is psychotherapy going to POT?” is spot on in terms of describing the quandary faced by psychotherapists and their patients with respect to the double-edged sword of “prescriptive therapies.”

my hopes for mental health camp UK

the moment i spotted MentalHealthCamp toronto i wanted to help make it happen here. years ago i was a volunteer MIND mental health advocate in the old hackney psychiatric hospital (a former workhouse) which was a schooling in one side of mental health services. now that i’m an accidental digital innovator i can see the huge potential in a mashup of mental health and digital, which i can’t really put better than the MentalHealthCamp toronto mission statement :

dr. khalid sohail, a psychiatrist by profession has been passionately writing for the last two decades. his collections of poems, stories, travelogues, novellas and essays have been published in english, urdu and punjabi. his writings are an attempt to share his humanistic philosophy of life. he summarized his views in his book “pages of my heart” in the following words:

edge: getting at the neuroanthropology of morality
edge has just posted a new seminar, the new science of morality. you get lots of access to interviews, links to papers, videos, exchange of views, reactions from the press, and more. quite stimulating.

calling all social change geeks: it’s netsquared camp vancouver

a month from now, on saturday, august 14, i’ll be attending vancouver’s first NetSquared camp, a day-long event for people who work at the intersection of social change and technology. the goal of the event is to build skills and capacity through peer learning, and invites the participation of “nonprofits, activists and social entrepreneurs [along] with their friends and allies in the world of technology and communications.”

study shows possibilities for predicting how patients will respond to antidepressants

in a study of an experimental treatment for major depression, pretreatment testing to probe the function of a specific brain center predicted how patients would respond to ketamine, a medication that can lift depression rapidly in some people. the work suggests it may be possible to develop ways to use such assessments in the future, not only to better understand depression, but to guide treatment choices for individuals.

effective confrontation

basic principles to remember:

the 30 second rule: the first 30 seconds in a confrontation, or your response to being confronted, will determine whether or not productive dialogue will even begin.

coaching at work magazine – mark on a difficult case
mark mckergow is featured in the current issue of coaching at work magazine (http://www.coaching-at-work.com). in the troubleshooter column, a difficult case is presented and expert responses are sought. here’s the problem:

international online training program on intractable conflict
conflict research consortium, university of colorado, USA

non-violent struggle
the problem with the use of violent confrontation strategies is that they quickly escalate to the point where the parties’ only concerns are victory, vengeance, and self-defense. in these cases, the moral arguments of people who are being unjustly treated become irrelevant. what matters is that they have used violent strategies and their opponent is, therefore, justified in a violent response. this problem is complicated by the fact that both sides are usually able to argue that the other side started the violence.

eight steps for workplace confrontations
one of the challenging things about working in a team environment is that there are times when people behave in ways that we find unproductive, offensive, or hurtful.  when we ignore these feelings the relationship can suffer as our resentment festers.  yet fear at confronting others can prevent us from taking positive action.  today’s post contains a checklist you can use to determine if a confrontation is appropriate, and if so, how to move forward.

the missing ingredient in most social media strategies
what is the missing ingredient in most strategies i’ve seen? actual strategy.

expressive writing for the treatment of gay-related stressors

according to research published in the journal of consulting and clinical psychology, writing about stressful or traumatic events related to one’s sexual identity may be an effective treatment for gay-related stress.

forms in english haiku
keiko imaoka

japanese haiku have been traditionally composed in 5-7-5 syllables. when poets started writing english haiku in the 1950’s, they adopted this 5-7-5 form, thinking it created a similar condition for english-language haiku. this style is what is generally considered “traditional” english haiku.

gogyōka (五行歌?, literally, “five line poem”) is a form of japanese poetry invented by enta kusakabe (草壁 焔太) in 1957, in an attempt to escape the constraints of haiku and tanka poetry.[1] unlike traditional japanese poetry, gogyōka has no mora or syllable requirement for the length of its lines, which is instead governed by the duration of a single breath. the only defining rule of gogyōka is that the poem should be five lines long. in addition to japanese and english, gogyōka have been written in french, chinese, arabic, tagalog, korean, and latin.

on being chronically absent : “calling for my soul, at the corners of the world, i know she’s playing poker, with the rest of the stragglers”
i have always been an absentee.  sometimes by choice, sometimes by chance. i still do all of my work, and put great effort into it.  but i have never been keen on always attending class.  sometimes i feel that the time is better spent working from home, getting much more done. some classes i never want to miss, and am sad when i do.  i don’t play hooky, like i must admit – i did quite often in elementary school – but at times absenteeismt is necessary. sometimes i need “mental health” days off.  actually, i find it ridiculous that this isn’t expected at the “workplace”, since it has been found that most “sick calls” are due to feeling mentally worn out, than due to being physically ill.  if you get the flu, go home, best that you not spread it!  i feel the same is true of mental exhaustion and the need to get away for a while – a short leave of absence is simply necessary for one to “perform to the best of their abilities” (what any employer assumedly wants – accuracy, efficiency, obedience…, but when you  try to suppress the negative energy that fills your disposition, it spills out onto the people you are working with, and for (diners, students, etc.)

the rise of the psychopharmaceutical industry 1987-2010
written and submitted by mary ackerley ***md, mdh

mary beth ackerley md is a harvard and johns hopkins trained board certified psychiatrist. she now practices holistic psychiatry.

robert whitaker’s brilliant book anatomy of an epidemic asks a simple question.why , if psychiatric drug treatments are so efficacious, has the number of people on disability for mental illness more than tripled in the last 25 years? most doctors and researchers answered this question by stating that the numbers have increased simply because we are diagnosing more people with mental illness. in response to this stereotyped dismissal of his data, robert began to do more research on the efficacy of known psychiatric treatments. and then, while poring through the psychiatric scientific literature on treatment effectiveness for the last fifty years he found an even darker question beginning to emerge. “is it possible that psychiatric drugs are actually making people much worse?” could it be that far from “fixing broken brains” the drugs being offered actually are worsening, and even causing, the very illnesses they claim to heal?

handy google search tips: 19 simple tricks you need to know

google may be expanding into cell phones, operating systems, and tablet pcs, but it’s still known best for search.  google’s engineers have tricked out the search engine with a number of tools, shortcuts, and features that can help you better access the information you’re after–whether it’s finding out how many euros to the dollar, when your favorite team is playing next, or whether to leave home with an umbrella.

psychologists develop two potent new predictors of suicide risk

sciencedaily (july 30, 2010) ” two powerful new tests developed by psychologists at harvard university show great promise in predicting patients’ risk of attempting suicide.

saving the lives of 15 eight week old puppies
a better life dog rescue has just agreed to save the lives of 15 eight week old puppies that were going to be euthanized by a california shelter on friday. a rescue organization in los angelos asked numerous rescue groups in the states and canada for help to save these puppies lives.

dog breed selector quiz
ibizan hound size: medium. coat: silky. straight. coat length: short. grooming: easy, low-maintenance. very unlikely to drool. little to no shedding. very high activity level. bred as a game hunting companion. low intelligence. somewhat easier than average to train. very wary of other pets. tolerates strangers well. good with kids four and up. very affectionate. quite dependent. quiet. somewhat shorter than average estimated lifespan. in america, a rare breed. not well suited for apartment living.

mental health camp recap #1

i was going to write this nice first recap about mental health camp but then – well, life happened.  so instead here are the links to some people who have written a little about it.  enjoy!

http://katanaville.com/mental-health-camp-at-ubc-honesty-on-the-internet/

http://www.covenanthousebc.org/blog/2010/07/16/mental-health-camp-recap

http://theemperorhasnotoque.blogspot.com/2010/07/mental-health-camp-2010-my-view-after.html

http://cuntinglinguist.com/2010/07/mental-health-in-which-steff-calls-a-spade-a-spade.html

http://www.kidsideration.ca/?p=86

http://www.ridedonthide.com/2010/07/mental-health-camp-2010/

my mental health camp talk: insanity in the workplace

my talk at mental health camp yesterday:

it’s not about mental illness. it’s about mental health.

in 1996, 510 murders occurred in canada. taking a prevalence rate of about 3% of violent crimes committed by people with mental illness, at most, 16 of these people were killed by someone with a mental illness. i’m mentioning that because of the tragedy that happened a few days ago where a little girl was killed.

still. i’d like you to get that number. 16.

at the same time, 45,000 deaths were attributed to tobacco, 2,900 to car accidents, and 1,900 to alcohol.

mental illness is not the big problem.

i think mental health is.

an industry that makes products that kill tens of thousands of people in canada alone is not mentally healthy. in fact, it is literally insane.

i’ll tell you what else is insane.

a country that does not extradite someone who has been judged responsible for the death of at least 25,000 people is insane. the country is the united states, the person in question is warren anderson. he was the executive in charge at the time of the bhopal disaster.

who else is insane?

a company that disregards safety just like union carbide in bhopal did. the company is BP. it is insane.

a police force that is more concerned with turf wars than preventing disasters is insane. the police force is the RCMP and the disaster is the air india crash.

i’m not here to say that mental illness is not important, that all of us here who are dealing with depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder or whatever, either ourselves or through our loved ones, are not important because otherwise we wouldn’t have mental health camp.

but right here, right now, i want to talk about mental HEALTH. because i’ve looked at all these things and all of a sudden, i realized something enormous:

the vast majority of big disasters nowadays, from environmental crimes to wars to major health problems such as lung cancer and diabetes – you know where most of them come from, or more precisely, where the decisions are made to go ahead and do or not do things that have vast negative consequences?

they are all fomented in the work place. union carbide, the RCMP, the cigarette company philip morris, BP – all the decisions that have a horrible effect on countless people are made at the workplace.

those workplaces are insane.

who here has worked in an insane workplace?

who here is working in an insane workplace right now?

what type of insanity do we find in the workplace?

  • incivility
  • bullying
  • abusive supervisors
  • resentment
  • never being appreciated
  • blame
  • betrayal
  • cynicism
  • distrust, always on the lookout for trouble
  • focusing on shortcomings
  • obsessed with reputation
  • reluctance and lack of cooperation
  • fear of disappointment
  • anger
  • grief
  • anxiety
  • extreme vigilance
  • phoniness
  • being a “hard-ass,”
  • playing favorites
  • irrationality
  • scrutinizing everything for hidden meaning
  • closed mindedness
  • uneasy relationships that never get repaired – toxins build up
  • layoffs and other painful measures that are being pushed through disregarding the effect they have
  • disconnection from reality
  • in-groups and out-groups that fight each other
  • differential treatment from bosses
  • active and passive provocation
  • incompetence
  • not admitting problems
  • not asking for help
  • lack of meaningful relationships at work
  • getting blindsided
  • frustration
  • evasiveness
  • lack of fairness
  • nobody listens
  • deflecting responsibility
  • self-handicapping

(adapted from an MIT sloan management review article)

there’s quite a bit of research on the dysfunctional workplace, for example on violence in the workplace, or the effect abusive supervisors have on turnover in the workplace. however, i haven’t seen anything yet on how the dysfunctionality that seems to be the norm in many workplaces makes it possible for disastrous decisions to be made.

but i’m just going to go out on a limb and say that someone who is in complete and optimal mental health cannot make the kinds of decisions that end up killing people, destroying the environment and otherwise compromising the wellbeing of people and the planet.

let me use the air india disaster as an example. reading through justice john major’s report, we see that these things happened at the RCMP and CSIS

  • not communicating effectively with each other
  • RCMP not sharing information with CSIS when they clearly should have, and vice versa
  • not respecting each others’ rules and requirements – e.g. RCMP was often careless in protecting CSIS sources
  • a culture of managing information designed to protect individual institutional interests and not the public interest
  • compromising the need for reliable proof (when the parmar tapes were erased)
  • misunderstanding or dismissing that the relevance of information, not who has the information, determines what happens before the court
  • institutional lack of self-restraint and self-discipline
  • overstating the need for secrecy

i propose that all of these things are signs of dysfunctional mental health. i propose that most people would say that these are signs of mental health:

  • open and honest communication
  • reflecting on the consequences of one’s actions
  • having a degree of basic trust towards others
  • working hard to resolve any tensions that arise
  • co-operating for the common good
  • a degree of maturity that includes self restraint and self discipline where needed

and i propose that if these and other indicators of mental health were present, there would be less, and probably far less, calamities in the world.

i have to tell you that these ideas are still pretty new to me. as some of you know, i was going to talk about a different topic. but then one day, interestingly enough, when i was preparing a talk somewhere else about mental health in the workplace, i saw this connection between war and destruction and the workplace.

a book i have been reading avidly lately is tony schwartz’s the way we’re working isn’t working. (you can follow tony on twitter, it’s @tonyschwartz.)

let me read you just a few excerpts. here is the one that may have triggered all of this:

not a single CEO or senior executive at a large bank ever stood up and blew the whistle on the practices that led to the worldwide financial meltdown in 2008. nor has virtually any one of them ever explicitly acknowledged any personal responsibility for what happened.

we tolerate extraordinary disconnects in our own lives, even in areas we plainly have the power to influence.

human beings have continued to evolve by leaps and bounds in terms of what can be externally measured and observed. but for all these extraordinary external advances, we’ve devoted remarkably little attention to better understanding our inner world.

[we have a] tendency to default to impatience, irritation and even anger as a way to mobilize others to action

no single behaviour, we’ve come to believe, more funamentally influences our effectiveness in waking life than sleep

the survival zone is an acceptable place in which to operate in most organizations

survivial zone, performance zone, burnout zone, renewal zone

[when a amy pascal needed to implement some major changes at sony] she began by asking herself a simple question: “what is the right thing to do here? … everybody knows that it means to do the right thing. it means serving the greatest good even when it doesn’t seem to be in your immediate self-interest. it means you don’t make choices out of fear of failure or just because they seem expedient, you don’t make choices that are quicker or easier because that’s what everyone else is doing.”

okay, so now we’ve spent about 35 minutes on doom and gloom, and that’s just about all i can handle. i want to talk about more positive things now. like mental illness.

actually, about the experience and wisdom of people with mental illness. more precisely, the experience and wisdom of people with mental illness who are working hard at making the best of their lives. i’ll assume there’s a few of us in here right now, and more who may have friends or family who have learned to manage mental illness.

part of that management is medication. but the other part of that is therapy and even more importantly, leading a life that strives for as much mental health as possible.

in the course of managing mental illness, we have learned some valuable things. so what i’m saying is that precisely BECAUSE we are forced to manage mental illness we have gained tools that can make a difference, a big difference.

my final point then is, seeing that the world needs help, and seeing that in managing mental illness, we have gained these valuable tools, how can we practically, day by day, today and not tomorrow, use these tools to influence our places of work? because i think that’s one place where we can start. make it our responsibility to make our places of work places where we can be in what tony schwartz calls the performance and renewal zones, where we can be calm, engaged, invigorated and peaceful, mellow and receptive. and even more specifically, how can we use social media to make this happen?

incivility

bullying

abusive supervisors

resentful


never being appreciated

blame

betrayal

cynicism

distrustful, always on the lookout for trouble

focusing on shortcomings

obsessed with reputation

reluctance and lack of cooperation

fear of disappointment

anger

grief

anxiety,

extreme vigilance,

phony

being a “hard-ass,”

playing favorites

irrational

scrutinizing everything for hidden meaning

closed minded

uneasy relationship that never get repaired – toxins build up

layoffs and other painful measures that are being pushed through disregarding the effect they have

disconnection from reality

in-groups and out-groups that fight each other

differential treatment from bosses

active and passive provocation.

incompetence

not admitting problems

not asking for help

lack of meaningful relationships at work

getting blindsided

frustration

evasiveness

lack of fairness

nobody listens

deflecting responsibility

self-handicapping

mental health camp today!

these are my opening remarks for mental health camp today. if you’re on twitter, you can follow the conference via the hashtag #mhcyvr10.

this is a conference that was conceived and organized in love, excitement and harmony. while we talk about stigma and silence, what is much more interesting to us is to move forward and make the world a better place.

i’m an old hippie, so i have a constitutional right to talk about love and peace and harmony.

to us, mental health camp is more than a conference where people exchange information. it’s an unconference because we have space for people to present impromptu sessions, and because so-called experts and so-called non-experts mingle freely. but it’s more than that.

mental health camp is also about working together in harmony. part of this is because raul and i and the other volunteers just happen to work really well together. when you see raul and me twitter about each other like two love birds, it’s because we just can’t get over how well we work together.

but part of this is very, very intentional. we WANT there to be open, clean and clear communication. we WANT there to be respect. we WANT for trust to unfold itself so that new things can be explored and tension can be seen as productive and exciting, not fear-inducing and creating animosity.

mental health camp is about inclusion. it’s really, really important to us that everyone gets heard, that there is a space for everyone. we were able to include just about every idea and presentation that was proposed to us. the only ones we said no to were proposals that were things like, “10 sure-fire ways to end your depression forever” – there’s lots of other venues for experts to give those kinds of talks.

and over and over again, we kept saying, mental health camp is about taking care of ourselves. i can’t tell you how often raul and i said to each other and to volunteers and presenters that we can’t have mental health camp turn into a stress fest. how absurd that would be! we need to walk our talk.

you can see, then, that mental health camp is about mental health. it’s not called mental illness camp, or depression camp, or stigma camp. a huge part of mental health consists of harmonious co-operation, good communication, respect, trust, inclusion, self care – and love.

it is with love, then, that we break the silence, because love needs to express itself. breaking the silence, setting us free is the theme of this year’s vancouver mental health camp. love does not constrict, that’s why “setting us free” is important.

it is with love that i want to thank our wonderful PR person and media concierge cathy browne for coming up with just the right words to express our theme, and for all the great things she’s doing for us.

it is with love that i thank airdrie, who started this whole thing. airdrie had this idea last year to do a little panel about mental health with herself, tod maffin and myself, at our annual blogging conference, northern voice. well, that little 45-minute panel was the powerful seed for what is now starting to feel like a movement.

this is the 3rd mental health camp in 14 months. there was one in toronto in may, and they will certainly have another one. we know of two other people who have plans to do mental health camps, one in the UK, another one here, specifically for the south asian community, to be run by kulpreet singh. we’ve also heard rumours of places like san francisco wanting to do something like this, right, AJ?

and it is with love and respect and admiration that i want to give you a brief overview over some of the ideas that are being offered to you today.

the topic of breaking the silence, setting us free, is being touched on by many of our presenters. steffi cameron, for example, will talk about “ripping off the scabs”. it’s interesting to think about that image. it’s not exactly rosy and mushy. come to think of it, the idea of “breaking” the silence is also pretty strong. clearly, finding a way through to honest self expression isn’t always easy. and by self expression i mean artistic self expression but more than that – expressing the self. this is who i am.

other people who speak directly to this topic are terra, who did an unforgettable talk about mommy bloggers and mental health last year, as well as catherine omega and steven schwartz. steven schwartz will also talk a bit about mad pride, i think. the mad pride movement goes beyond breaking the silence, it breaks new ground. mad pride, steven tells us, was grown on the success of gay pride. and let’s not forget the commonalities here. being gay was also once something that had stigma attached to it, and look how far we’ve come. there’s lots we can learn here. mad pride is described as “a fun movement that celebrates the human rights and spectacular culture of everyone who is “different,” and isn’t that everyone?”

another group that’s connected to mad pride is gallery gachet. gallery gachet is a collective of artists who paint, draw, sculpt and do all kinds of other neat things and also happen to have run-ins with ill mental health. gallery gachet will be hosting a series of mad pride events starting july 14, and today we have two presentations from artists connected to gallery gachet. one is jay peachy, who will do an interesting live radio event, complete with art therapy. the other event is the showing of the film “crooked beauty” over the lunch hour in the auditorium.

another presenter speaking about art, among other things, will be michelle clausius, who will be presenting art work by youth who are facing difficulties with homelessness, abuse, addiction and mental illness. covenant house’s blog “on the house” is the vehicle with which this art is expressed, and recently won an award for it.

earlier i talked about inclusion, and one of the things that we’re working towards is to try to include as many aspects as possible of mental health. homelessness is one of them, and another important one is ADD. pete quily is THE indefatigable advocate for attention surplus condition – yes, you heard it right. i love his positive twist, sounds more interesting than attention deficit disorder.

talking about positive – that’s something very important to AJ, also known as depression2.0 on twitter, who will propose the idea of an online game around mental health issues. it’s called escape from bummer island.

sean cranbury will give us a bit of balance and talk about mental health from the perspective of care providers. and i will discuss what i’ve already started here – the importance of focusing on mental health for everyone, because literally, our lives depend on it.

and talking about balance – one of the things we wanted to accomplish in this mental health camp was to give it a strong online component. one thing we’re doing is that we have a number of online moderators. they have the imaginative names of mhcmod1, mhcmod2 and mhcmod3. they will be gentle shepherds for the mental health camp presence on twitter.

the person who has inspired us to do that is amy kiel, also known as @abeeliever on twitter. she is the host of the mental health social media chat that happens on twitter every tuesday, the hashtag is #mhsm. she will be hosting a special mhsm talk today, also on twitter. i am really excited to have a virtual presence here in this real life space. this is something that i think the vancouver social media community is very good at – thanks to people like raul, we are connecting in multiple ways and building true community online and offline.

talking about offline – we have some real life support here. if you feel you need to talk someone, we have a quiet area over there. jael will be there for you, as well as perhaps a few other volunteers who have experience be present to people’s emotional needs. jael is currently studying with katarina halm, who will also give a presentation on that topic. focusing is a technique that incorporates the body’s information with emotional and thought processes. it’s fascinating!

and we’ll end with a bicycle! in a few weeks, michael schratter will start circling the globe with his bicycle. he’s doing that to bring awareness to mental illness. did you know that suicide kills more young men than anything else? michael, and i’m sure all of us, want to put an end to this, and he’ll talk about how he’ll use social media to do that.

and now i want to come back to love. i don’t necessarily mean the mushy stuff, the disney version of love. i mean the greek concept of agape. love that supports, love that revels in the presence and expression of the other, love that passionately wants the best for the other, love that heals, love that is patient, love that is so big it’s hard to describe because it brings a magical quality of goodness to all that it touches.

if we – and by we i mean you and you and you and me and all of us – if we bring these things to mental health camp today, if we bring these things to mental health and mental illness, if we bring these things to the world, then i say, we are doing a fine job.

social media and mental health – it’s not all rosy

today you may want to amble over to brainblogger, where i’ve posted an article apropos mental health camp.  the post, social media and mental health, discusses some of the difficulties associated with the intersection between mental health and social media such as internet addiction, insomnia, etc.

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?