Tag Archives: mentalhealthcamp

call for speakers for mental health camp

is there something you’ve always wanted to say about mental health?  here’s your chance – the call for speakers for MentalHealthCamp 2010.

we are looking for session leaders who speak from personal or professional experience with mental health or mental illness.

we will have 9 slots for prearranged speakers (e.g. approved by the selection committee), and will keep 6 slots open 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.

also, we would like to experiment with having one or two virtual sessions.  do you live in new zealand and would like to present?  are you unable to leave your children and your dogs alone in rural quebec but have an important story to share?  if you have the technical know-how, let’s talk about using technology to bring you right into our conference here in vancouver.

go to the MentalHealthCamp site for more information.

mental health and mental illness in different cultures

the last few days, i have been thinking repeatedly about the ideas fellow vancouver blogger karen fung has brought up in her post on march 9. she muses about three topics, all of which fascinating. the one about mental health issues with immigrant populations is particularly intriguing, perhaps because for the past year, i’ve mostly worked with immigrants, and also because ethnic diversity is something very close to our hearts at the canadian mental health association.

karen says

as i have become more aware of my interaction with others and of my personal power in my relationships, i’ve realized how important language of empowerment is – and in some cases, even just language more broadly. one interest that i have (that i’m not sure i’ll ever be able to meaningfully pursue) is exploring mental health issues with immigrant populations …

what is the status of mental health stigma more generally in non-english media, and how are efforts at pushing that envelope? this is entirely out of self-interest; however, with populations around the world being more mobile and cultures more in flux, my read is that the ways of dealing with mental health issues the way my grandparents did – through self-medication, secret lives or behind closed doors – seems less and less viable all the time …

on a more specific, linguistic level, i’ve found english to be amazingly malleable in making words match the concepts ” people change and adapt phrases all the time to reflect, however artificially, a higher level of thinking that is non-judgmental, inclusive and accepting. but i can imagine that with other languages (say, the one i have most personal experience with, cantonese) this willingness to shift things might not exist the same way.

these are intriguing ideas. one thing that this makes me think of is that in german, my mother tongue, the concept/words “mental health” are not nearly as much in use as the concept/words “mental illness”. for example, if i search the english speaking google.com for the terms “mental health”, “mental illness” and “depression”, i get a close to 1:1:1 ratio. in google.de, on the other hand, the word “geistesgesundheit” (mental health), even when i add the related term “geistliche gesundheit”, relates to “geisteskrankheit” (mental illness) and depression in a ratio of 1:20:130.  mindboggling!

just to spin this a bit further – it seems to me that german has a similar malleability at the semantic (meaning) level but not on the sociolinguistic level. that is, the language structure is very capable – maybe even more so than english – of being bent this way and that to reflect many shades of meaning but on the level of actual language use, that just does not happen as much as in english.  similarly, the concept of political correctness, which is born from the desire to make language more reflective of societal changes, is not nearly as significant in german as it is in english.

what does it mean, then, when a person struggling with mental health issues lives in a country where mental illness is a much more frequently used term than mental health

i’ll assume that the situation in chinese speaking countries (china, hong kong, taiwan, singapore, parts of vietnam, malaysia, philippines, etc.) is similar to the situation in germany. one of my friends from mainlaind china agrees with me.  but that’s just two opinions – correct us if we’re wrong!

and what does it mean for a person from one of those countries when they move to a place like canada, the US or australia and encounter a totally new approach to mental illness? is it freeing, confusing, stunning?

MentalHealthCamp – a whole conference about mental health and blogging

northern voice 2009 logo by bascocoping digitally, a session at the 2009 northern voice blogging conference that talked about the intersection of blogging and mental health and how social media can help derease the stigma of mental health was a real success.  raul did a live blog of the session. thanks, raul!

the overwhelming feedback, during and after the session, face-to-face and digitally, was that the conversation needs to be continued.

so – we are thinking of putting together MentalHealthCamp, an (un)conference that will deal specifically with the topic.  raul (@hummingbird604 on twitter) already did a post on it!

right now the idea is to put together such a conference in vancouver some time in april, with sessions that are at least 90 minutes – these are topics that we can’t just plow through, there needs to be time for reflection and conversation.  we could run concurrent sessions if we have a lot of proposals.

in the meantime, feel free to continue the discussion digitally here on my blog. i’m thinking about writing specific blog posts about the issues that have arisen so far.  anything you’re burning to talk about, let me know!

and once again, here are airdrie’s blog and tod’s, the two other people on the panel.  a huge thanks to airdrie once again for getting this ball rolling so well!

questions to you, my good readers and commenters:

would you be interested in participating in MentalHealthCamp?

“participating” means anything from attending the conference to volunteering to put it together to giving presentations.

right now my thought is that we might even be able to do a mixed online/face-to-face session where people who cannot make it to vancouver could perhaps participate via a combination of live-blogging and twitter.

UPDATE: here is the wiki for MentalHealthCamp – for those of you who want to participate.

(the northern voice logo shown here was created by “teh ossum” street artist basco)