3336971302_613f580637The other day I received an @reply from Mikey Ames on Twitter with the message,

@rhetter SM mental health, Vancouver- http://tinyurl.com/dhd2y4

When I opened up the link I read this,

Mental Health Camp – a Conference about Mental Health and Social Media

with the following synopsis,

MentalHealthCamp is a conference about the intersection of social media and mental health. What is social media? Social media is the online practice of sharing personal opinions, insight and content (of text, images, and music). Examples of social media are blogs, Facebook, YouTube, flickr, and Twitter. And mental health? For the purposes of this conference, mental health is the wide spectrum between mental wellbeing (e.g. experiencing a minimum of stress, anxiety and interpersonal problems) and serious mental illness (e.g. heroin addiction, schizophrenia or anorexia). We are also including issues such as ADD. After very positive feedback to a panel discussion about social media and the stigma of mental illness at the 2009 Northern Voice blogging conference, a spontaneous decision was made by some of the attending bloggers that this topic is something that cries out for more attention. We are asking questions such as * How can blogging help decrease the stigma of mental health? * How does someone with a mental illness navigate the waters of anonymity in the transparent world of social media? * How is the journaling that happens in blogging similar to or different from journaling for healing? * How can social media participants with mental health issues help each other?I absolutely love this concept, and my only regret is that I can’t get there on such short notice. But I have been using social media for a long time and have been trying ways to connect it in the mental health, therapy and counseling settings. If you look at my blog I am attempting to use some social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeed to bridge the often isolated world of therapy, with the community of social media.

Though the field of psychology and the practice of therapy is rooted in a long and rich historical tradition, I have always tried to push against the stigma that is often associated with mental health…or with someone going to see a therapist. Maybe I see less of a stigma because I have gone and do go to therapy myself, or maybe it was living in California all those years where having a therapist is right up there with having a physical fitness trainer.

I think there are a lot of things that can be done to slowly erode away the stigma of therapy and mental health, and I think this generation is ripe to break down many of those stigmas that have kept so many people for so long from getting help. I will be interested to see what comes of this gathering, and I hope that we can put one together here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex in the coming year as well. But for now I will have to follow the work of Raul from Hummingbird 604 and Isabella from Change Therapy. And hopefully I will get a chance to connect with them via social media.

[image from publik15]