Vancouver's First MentalHealthCamp Scheduled for April 25

    Day-Long 'Unconference' to Examine Positive Affects of Social Media in
    Mental Health Education, Treatment

    VANCOUVER, April 22 /CNW/ - According to the Canadian Mental Health
Association, mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time
through a family member, friend or colleague. In fact, 20% of all Canadians
will personally experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. This
can range from a decrease in mental wellbeing (e.g. acute stress, anxiety and
interpersonal problems) to chronic mental illnesses including clinical
depression, heroin addiction, schizophrenia, or bi-polar disorders.
    Mental illness is widely feared and misunderstood, resulting in lack of
treatment, discrimination and isolation. In an effort to help combat the
stigmas surrounding mental illness, Vancouver's rapidly-growing social media
and blogging community has organized the first-ever Vancouver MentalHealthCamp
on Saturday, April 25. The day-long 'unconference' will be held at Workspace
400 - 21 Water Street, from 9am - 5pm.
    MentalHealthCamp is being coordinated by two prominent Vancouver
bloggers, Raul Pacheco-Vega PhD, a recognized authority on environmental
policy and Isabella Mori, a Vancouver psychotherapist and writer.
    "We came up with the idea for MentalHealthCamp as a result of very
positive feedback we received from a panel discussion about social media and
the stigma of mental illness at the 2009 Northern Voice blogging conference,"
said Dr. Pacheco-Vega. "We believe that social media tools like blogs, Twitter
and Facebook can be used to openly discuss issues, share information, and
enable people who are struggling with mental health issues to find a voice and
make it heard."
    "Social media can be therapeutic," Mori said. "Sometimes an individual's
need for support feels overwhelming. Individuals get a feeling of relief when
they can read someone else describe a struggle that they are privately
experiencing. This validation is priceless, and is one piece of professional
therapy that patients find so helpful."

    Among the issues to be discussed during the sessions are:

    -   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

    Registration to MentalHealthCamp is limited to 75 attendees interested in
mental health issues and/or social media. Admission is by donation, and no-one
will be turned away for lack of funds. "Every effort will be made to help all
attendees keep as much anonymity and confidentiality as possible in such a
venue, and we are planning to have counselors available to attendees," Dr.
Pacheco-Vega added.
    "We're all extremely grateful for the generous support and sponsorship by
WorkSpace and the British Columbia Mental Health Foundation, and the help of
numerous volunteers," Ms. Mori said.
    For more information, or to volunteer for the event, email or visit the MentalHealthCamp blog at Also visit the Vancouver MentalHealthCamp on Twitter

    Dr. Pacheco-Vega:
    Ms. Mori:

For further information:

For further information: Cathy Browne, (778) 686-2761,, Twitter: @CathyBrowne

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