Yesterday, a first-year student allegedly attempted to take her own life by jumping off one of the parking garages (see story in this morning’s New Britain Herald)
There is already a Facebook group (“don’t give up, Cherolle Brown”). I also noticed that there is a support group sponsored by NAMI-CT for students with diagnosed mental disorders. Perhaps it’s also time to do some broader awareness and start a chapter of Active Minds?
At any rate, I plan to speak about my experience as a former client of the Institute of Living (my bipolar friend jokingly refers to it as “the substitute for living”) Professional’s Program in the hopes that it will do some good!
Speaking of IOL — I like it that they are sponsoring a BrainDance competition for high school students to reduce stigma, but their Myths, Minds, and Medicine exhibit is overly simplistic. The library also is not very helpful in answering reference questions.
Just returned yesterday from a trip to Akron, Ohio to give a talk at the Archives of the History of American Psychology. The folks there were very friendly and helpful. The talk was a big hit as well. I was a bit nervous because most of those who attended my Cheiron session last summer didn’t seem to get be that interested in clinical issues, and completely missed the point of the disability perspective (John Burnham, for example, said he agreed with most of it but said the seriously mentally ill should really be locked up for their own good — okay he was a bit more tactful than that but it was the general drift).
Most of the audience members at AHAP were graduate students and faculty in counseling or clinical psychology. Some of the most intriguing questions were from a fellow named Fred Frese, who is a clinical professor of psychology at Case Western who is also a recovering schizophrenic and advocate for other mentally ill individuals. He introduced himself right before my talk, which gave me the courage to “come out” right away as a person with bipolar disorder. He suggested looking at the Association on Higher Education and Disability which has a special interest group on psychiatric disability. He also mentioned attempts to reform the Javits-Wagner-O’Day act to include mental illness (originally this legislation was created in 1930s to assist the blind, then was extended to physically disabled in 1970s). As Frese put it, mentally ill individuals want to be on the bus, even if it’s at the back. He asked if I was willing to work for this, to which I said “absolutely!”
Other things to look into: Andrew Sperling, legal counsel at NAMI,
Tony Young, Senior Public Policy Analyst at NISH, decriminalizing mental illness (apparently the LA county jail is one of the largest psychiatric facilities in the country by default!)
I just returned from the joint meeting of Cheiron and the European Society for the History of Human Sciences at University College, Dublin. The photo above is of the William Jefferson Clinton auditorium, where the meeting was held. I had never attended a Cheiron conference so this was a new experience for me. Everyone was very friendly and my paper went very well. I’ll have more to say about the specifics of the meeting soon. For those interested in seeing more photos of Dublin, go to my Flickr site.
Last week, I published an op ed piece on the Virigina Tech shootings, “Mental Health is Everyone’s Business.”
We had an interesting discussion in my Historical methods class this afternoon about prejudice against the mentally ill. One of my students has Asperger’s syndrome and said that after Columbine he was taken out of school for a few weeks as “a precaution.” I wonder if this will happen to other students now, if it isn’t already.