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?

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?


  1. I have two picks of those topics that stood out to me:

    Firstly, I like the “who gets to speak about mental health” theme because it is something we talked about on Twitter relating to Steven’s “mental health caste system” concept and the idea that there is a hierarchy of mental health issues. I think this is definitely the case and it would be really interesting to explore that.

    Secondly, I like the action theme, because that is often missing. Many people who complain amongst their inner circle about the stigma and silence are paralyzed by the same factors and don’t take action to stop them. I was talking with Pete Quily about this as well the other day. I’m not sure if he’s considering doing a talk and if it would be the action them but I definitely like that concept.
    .-= kulpreet singh´s last blog ..Want fulfillment? Get to work. =-.

  2. I guess it depends a bit on the other presentations. Do you have any ideas on what others will be dealing with.
    All of the possibilities have promise. My jaded experience of conferences leads me to think an emphasis on action would be a very good thing.

  3. You asked so I’ll answer 🙂 I like the idea about the differentiation of “mental illness” and “mental health” and perhaps including and creating a shift in our current belief system as “mental illness is not curable” to discovering ‘Mental Wellness” and an avenue that includes self empowerment over the idea that “I’ll be ill for the rest of my life” to “I can create the life I want each day in spite of the past I’ve had”.

    Many people who have experienced “mental illness” or mental health issues as we often see it described, including those given the dx of schizophrenia have been able to resolve their issues and live full productive lives but are not free to shed the stigma and shame of the label “mentally ill” and shift to “Mentally well”. It’s kind of like a “branding” where once it’s given you can’t get rid of it and it affects ones life forever.

    I do realize that not everyone will be able to make such a shift – but I do believe it would be helpful to reduce both shame and discrimination if it was a clear option for those who have the inner resources to take this kind of life changing action.

    BTW the definition of “stigma” is a “mark” that infers a defect. I believe the silence comes from the discrimination we face from bearing the “mark/stigma” of “mental illness”.

  4. Two topics stood out for me which were the blogging one as I have found it tremdously therapeutic and from feedback from others it is helpful for them in their own process.

    Two is who gets to speak up about mental illness. Patient often can be the best to explain what it is like to have a mental illness and what makes them healthy. I find it facinating that there is a hierarchy within the profession and within patients. When I was in the hospital, it was acceptable to have mood disorders and addictions; however, those with DID, schizophrenia and other dissociative disorders were looked at as less than by the other patients. I think that this is partly due to the subtleness of how professionals interact or make statements that are in patients hearing range.
    .-= ClinicallyClueless´s last blog ..What Old Rockstars Will Sing!! =-.

  5. I’m a big fan of your promoting mental HEALTH!

    I really like that topic.

    Had the chance to do some classes with Dr. Wm Glasser and he made this point beautifully.

    Excited to see you again!

    .-= A.J.´s last blog ..What if contentment was a game? =-.

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