First off, what a wonderful Bell Let’s Talk Day and UBC Suicide Awareness Day! We, as an entire nation, combined everyone’s voices and efforts, and achieved a record of 122,150,772 million tweets, texts, calls and shares! Which means Bell will be donating $6,107,538.60 towards mental health initiatives around Canada this year.
The Kaleidoscope, a non-profit that I am part of, is a proud recipient of the 2013 Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund, and we have been supported greatly in our growth, changes and development in the past couple of years. The Kaleidoscope strives to provide quality peer-support for individuals who self-identify themselves with any sort of mental health concern, ranging from stress at school/work, relationship issues, to mental health conditions and addictions. Our attendees often come back and tell us how much we helped them just by simply offering a safe space and listening ear. Myself included 🙂 We are a living example that talking is necessary, peer support has long lasting impacts, and that de-stigmatizing mental health is crucial and possible.
On the note of having conversations, and not burying things under the carpet, we are very excited to announce that we will be presenting at the 2015 Mental Health Symposium– Innovate youBC: Revolutionize Mental Health. Over the past few weeks, we’ve met with Kelly from the planning committee a couple of times to discuss our presentation. It is our privilege to be working with such great people, and we look forward an ever so innovative, challenging and educational symposium. Our preliminary proposal is as follows:
Respect Yourself: Understanding Coping Styles and Mechanism
- Intro Speech/Spoken Word – lived experience with unproductive coping mechanisms (provide trigger warning)~5 mins
- Mythbusters – Self Harm – What is it? What is it not? (Audience participation w/ pollev.com) ~3-5 mins
- Self Harm 101 – Who, What, How, Why? Safer alternatives (Presentation) ~5 mins
- Self Care/Coping Skills – how to love yourself while loving others (Audience post-it brainstorm, presentation) ~10-15 mins
- Selfless to Selfish – Dichotomy vs. Continuum, Finding balance (Conclusion) ~3 mins
- Introducing SHARE – Self Harm Anonymous Recovery and Education (Brief outline of what SHARE is, vision, mission, long-term goals, and progress of our first month – January) ~5 mins
- Resources – Campus and community resources ~2 mins
How does our proposal relate to the streams (self and/or community) of the 2015 Symposium?
Our proposal is very central to the stream of self, as we talk about why it is essential for us to build good self care techniques, to take time and reflect and to be kind to ourselves. We also talk about some of the consequences of the lack of productive coping, leading to various forms of self-harm, from reckless driving to substance use to self-injury as methods of coping. We reflect on what it means to be selfless and selfish, are either of them actually better or worse than one another?
In the community stream, we introduce SHARE as a resource for our community to continue learning about self-care, find support for self-harm. To care for others, we first must learn to care for ourselves, and together, we can build a healthier, safer community.
- The importance of self-care and how to create a community that is equipped with the tools for good self-care to deal with life stressors
- Caring for oneself is the foundation of caring for others
- Awareness and knowledge about self harm
The planning committee initially had some concerns surrounding our topic of focus, specifically with regards to the audience that we could reach and around triggers. They suggested a presentation focused on coping skills, but our thoughts are that there have been so many workshops about coping skills. If we don’t talk about why coping skills are important, and point out the negative consequences of not having productive coping mechanisms, it will not have as big of an impact. As well, the fact that we were encouraged to redirect the spotlight of our presentation from self-harm and self-care to simply productive coping skills, made us feel as though we were not being given the opportunity to shine light on an issue that has been swept way too deep under the rug. It seemed as though our community, even our partners in mental health, was suggesting glossing over the topic, yet again.
This evoked many emotions in us, mainly frustration, disbelief, and invalidation. We put ourselves in their shoes, and could see the perspective they are coming from. They aim to promote wellness in our community, have an upstream approach to mental health, and ensure that all who attend the symposium are comfortable and can get the most out of the event. We completely agree with their angle and think that it is important to promote positive health, there is no doubt about that; but in order to do that most effectively, is to also talk about the other side. Without illness, there is no wellness; without disorder, there is no “normalcy” and so on. It is when we have difficult conversations that change happens. We as a community of humans ought to learn to sit with discomfort; it’s due to this fear of discomfort, that many things become taboo, and prevent progress. With this in mind, we incorporated the suggestions into our presentation, while advocating for our stance on the matter. After the planning committee consulted with the university’s counselling service, had further discussions regarding their concerns, they came back with a much more open view on our presentation, and was happy to give us the platform and any additional support in holding this dialogue. Needless to say, we are very happy to be collaborating with people who are willing to give and receive feedback and openly communicate with us.
Over the next two weeks, we will be diligently prepping, and cannot wait to meet and connect with more fantastic people and groups. Join us on FB/twitter: we will be asking questions surrounding self-harm, self-care and coping styles to help guide our presentation!
Registration for the 2015 Mental Health Symposium is free of cost. Simply bring yourself 🙂