Official Press Release for Vancouver’s 2010 Mental Health Camp
Vancouver’s Second Annual MentalHealthCamp Scheduled for July 10th
Ground-Breaking ‘Un-conference’ to Examine How Social Media Can Help Eradicate Stigma, Combat Discrimination
VANCOUVER, BC, June 15, 2010 – An estimated 20% of Canadians will personally experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime, with anxiety and depression being the leading challenges. Most Canadians have been touched by mental illness through a friend or family member. Yet mental illness is still a topic many people are silent about. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness present a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment, but also to acceptance in the community.
MentalHealthCamp is a unique ‘un-conference’ dedicated to using social media to combat this stigma. Introduced in Vancouver in April 2009, and held for the first time in Toronto this May, Vancouver’s second annual MHC, under the banner “Breaking our Silence. Setting us Free.” will be held at the UBC Aquatic Ecosystem Research Laboratory (AERL), located at 2202 Main Mall on the UBC campus from 8am-6pm on Saturday, July 10th, 2010.
“Keeping silent about mental illness and mental health diminishes their importance, fosters misunderstanding, and severely hampers sufferers who are in urgent need of counseling and treatment. We’re very excited to be providing a forum where these challenges can be discussed and overcome,” said Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega, an environmental scientist and MentalHealthCamp co-founder. He and Isabella Mori, a psychotherapist and writer, are well-respected bloggers in Vancouver and avid users of social media tools including Twitter and Facebook.
“It is gratifying to see how quickly social media has helped so many people break down the barriers associated with mental illness by simply talking to and receiving support from others,” said Mori.
“One example is the weekly Mental Health Social Media chat on Twitter that brings activists, therapists and people with mental health issues together. This is unprecedented on a global level.”
Topics and talks to happen at MentalHealthCamp include (but are not limited to):
– Conversations around how to deal with discrimination within and beyond the mental health community.
– Discussions on how blogging helped a group of youngsters cope with mental illness.
– A live session with award-winning online radio show host Jay Peachy on using the arts for healing and advocacy in mental health.
– A session by blogger and “24 Hours Vancouver” journalist Michael Schratter about his international bicycle journey for mental health.
– A panel on the pros – and cons – of speaking out about mental illness/health.
In addition to a number of scheduled speakers, MentalHealthCamp’s un-conference model will allow for attendees to offer impromptu sessions. There will also be a ‘quiet room’ and counseling for people who need to take some time out. “We don’t just talk about mental health; we walk the talk and promote it,” said Dr. Pacheco-Vega. “Every effort will be made to ensure the comfort and anonymity of every attendee should they wish to remain anonymous.”
Registration to MentalHealthCamp is limited to 75 people. Admission is
$25[Thanks to the sponsorship of Freelance Camp Vancouver 2010 we are able to reduce the admission fee to $10] but no-one will be turned away for lack of funds.
“This is a volunteer-driven, grass-roots event,” added Mori. “We are very grateful to UBC for donating space for the event, and thank our volunteers for stepping up and making this possible.”