Compassionate Mental Health - Coming Home to Ourselves on Zoom

Fri 7 May 2021 8:00 AM - Sat 8 May 2021 6:00 PM BST

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We're excited to announce our next Compassionate Mental Health event -  a two day online gathering co-curated with Life Itself - a community of people working at the intersection of science, spirituality, politics and social change to seek a wiser world. 

Crises can also be a time for community cohesion. It has been incredible to see how the COVID-19 pandemic sparked the emergence of a UK wide network of local mutual aid projects, and people being motivated by kindness and compassion to look after their neighbours and communities. The NHS and local authorities also showed that it could be agile in the face of uncertainty to make culture and service changes that previously seemed impossible. 

So how can we keep the positive social renewal that has emerged to help harness the strengths of communities and seek to understand people’s distress in the context of their personal and social lives. How can we allow the pause that came around through the pandemic to finally get rid of the harmful bits of our mental health systems, and instead let go of mental health ‘business as usual’: making our lives into problems to be solved, on our own, sometimes with the help of “experts.”

On this online gathering, we will begin anew, and look for balance, with compassion. We will weave embodied practices together with a curated group of practitioners and scientists who will humbly offer practices and ideas that can help with difficult questions: 

- How can we see mental health as community and cultural practice rather than in individual one?

- How can we see mental health as an art, a matter of dealing artfully with intricate and unique individual patterns of ‘reactivity’?

- How can we be intellectually curious without being trapped in our head ? (Holding ideas lightly).

- What would it mean to live in a society that did not pathologise suffering?

- What might new alternatives to secondary mental health services look like? 

- How can curiosity and patience act as remedies in a time of uncertainty?

This programme is part of Compassionate Mental Health’s larger work to call for a more integrative approach to mental healthcare – one that relies less on diagnosis and prescription drugs, and more on empowering the person, communities and social networks. At the heart of the project is a belief that it is possible to begin to heal oneself and others through the power of community, connection, self care and solidarity. This event is being co-curated with Life Itself - a community of people working at the intersection of science, spirituality, politics and social change to seek a wiser world by living and working together, and create networks to share knowledge. 

This one-day gathering is an opportunity to explore alternative approaches for living and working with mental distress. We'll look together at how we can create spaces for people to experience suffering and joy - spaces that are safe, compassionate and balance open-hearted, non-hierarchical relationships with wise boundaries. We'll explore the importance of providing people with a safe and non-judgmental space to explore extreme states, and discover meaning in difficult experiences.

As with all Compassionate Mental Health events, we are calling for a more compassionate, trauma informed approach to mental distress. Ultimately we hope to work with others to inspire alternatives, with safe, healing mental health services that people want to use when they are in crisis. 

A key message of all Compassionate Mental Health events is choice not coercion - compassion not control, and the understanding that a mental health crisis can become a meaningful turning point and catalyst for change. Along with many other critical voices - we are calling for a radical shift in the way we understand mental health, changing the script, challenging stigma and raising expectations.

Speakers and facilitators include:

Sebern Fisher - Finding healing after trauma - neurofeedback, affect regulation and the therapeutic relationship 

Horatio Clare - Horatio is a writer and broadcaster whose new book "Heavy Light" charts his journey with psychosis, and is both deeply moving biography and critique of our current treatment approach to mental illness.

Giselle Genillard - Giselle brought Peter Levine’s (“Waking the Tiger”) SE trainings to England and France where she teaches workshops related to traumatic stress. Giselle specialises in working with PTSD in early childhood disorders, adolescents, combat and high-stress situations, and international disasters. She is the founder and director of SOS Internationale (SOSI), a Licensed Midwife, a member of the European Association of Body Psychotherapy (EABP), a Somatic Experiencing (SE)® Practitioner, a member of the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI), a Touch-in-Parenting Instructor and founding Secretary of the Board of EASE, the European Association for Somatic Experiencing.

Liam Kavanagh - Liam is a cognitive scientist who studies how our body and feelings interact with our thoughts, both within the individual and within social groups. Liam studied Economics at Cambridge University, and holds a PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UCSD. He is a practioner in the Plum Village tradition, and through Life Itself is pioneering a number of co living hubs.

New Speakers are joined by core Compassionate mental health team members, Malcolm Stern, Sarah Stone and Brigid Bowen.


Who is it for? 

The event is for anyone curious about compassionate approaches, including people and families with personal experience, front-line staff, commissioners, managers, clinicians, GPs, policymakers and Third Sector staff. Together we'll explore new ways of thinking about service provision, and how we care for ourselves and each other within our families, communities and workplaces. 

Join us in changing the conversation around mental health, challenging stigma and raising expectations - by moving away from labels that frame mental distress as disorders for life, and towards safe, healing mental health services that people want to use when they are in crisis.

Register Today

Register today and join us for this unique event. 

Our one day programme will be a mix of experiential sessions, talks and a chance to exchange ideas, lessons learned and best practices. Although this is an online event, there will be plenty of opportunities for participation and reflection. 

It will also be an opportunity to find out more about Compassionate Mental Health – programme coming soon - see the programme from our last event in November 2018

Book Now...

Some limited bursary places for people with personal experience on a low income, please contact Brigid Bowen ask@compassionatementalhealth.co.uk for more details 

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What do people say?

“Exceptional. The fact people had travelled from far and wide shows the high regard the event was held in, and also the pressing need to change and the delivery of compassionate mental health services.”

“Above all people were able to release shame , guilt and silence around their stories and to find like minded community.”

“Such a blessing. An oasis. I felt privileged to be a part of it. Beautifully organised, to the last detail. The professional delivery of the event was outstanding and the supporting literature of excellent quality.”

"You have created a unique and invaluable contribution to the future of mental health. My daughter took her own life two years ago. I believe if either she or I had had access to the material and the diverse community you have put together, there could have been a very different outcome.”

Cancellation refund policy:

Registrations cancelled more than 45 days before the event will be refunded 80% of the registration fees.
Registrations cancelled less than 45 but more than 30 days before the event will be refunded 50% of the registration fees.
Registrations cancelled less than 30 days before the event will not be eligible for a refund.

Compassionate Mental Heath reserves the right to cancel the event due to events outside its control (e.g. illness of a speakers). Every effort will be made to give participants as much notice as possible, although this may not always be possible in some circumstances.

Photography and filming policy:

There will be discreet photography and filming taking place during the event (but not during workshops) which we will use for public information and publicity purposes. Please let us know on the registration form if you do not consent to be filmed or photographed.