Any time I read an article or better yet a comment on an article which is “know it all” or negative I try to move on and not obsess about it. Sometimes these issues come back over and over again then I think – what is my part in this.
I read this article the other day in which the author sounded very concerned about the future of mental health being in the hands of people who are in denial of their own illness. It is a critique of the Alternatives Conference which is an annual mental health consumer run event. I have not been to this conference but I have been to several like it. If you have been to any conference in the world you would know it’s a take what you like and leave the rest experience. I think it’s healthy to critique peer run activities because if we don’t then we identify ourselves as fragile. What we do with the critique is essential to our progress. Here is the link so you can look at the article yourself.
Here are some of my reactions
1. I have no idea what causes or cures mental health issues. I don’t think anyone except people who are somewhat full of themselves does. Some say it’s trauma. Gee , I have no trauma history but I do have a mental illness. Some say it’s genes, I can see some links there. Some say it’s allergies – not me. Some say it’s a spiritual crisis – okay. Some people say it’s the culture and the system and the people we label are actually not ill – that’s fine but please don’t expect that the system is going to change unless we are employed and/or networking making alliances in the community at large. The more we alienate others by blaming, the less energy we have to move forward. Think Nelson Mandela. let’s work together people not cause a war about this.
2. I think that the choices people make for conference presenters are often weak and/or misguided and the conference committee may have to up their game. They are under pressure to find something that makes people feel good. People want an easy answer. I know I do. I have presented at several peer conferences. My workshops always involve humor so I usually get in! It’s easy to get fooled by people who have published several books and have lots of misleading evidence about how their diet is going to change your life. If even two or three people believe it has and they testify it’s hard to make a contrary comment. I have walked out on several keynote speakers who were way out in left field. Are they really any worse than the pharmaceutical companies though? I may have to get myself on an upcoming conference committee. I’ve done this before for recovery events and it was difficult but I lived through it!
3. Do I care who gets government money? I figure the people at The Alternatives conference get government money because they may come up with a great idea just as easily as a drug company might. I’m sure that there are worse things in the world than some people trying to come up with answers to their own issues even if they don’t think they have any!