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This year’s Kitty Lundy Memorial Lecture focused on Mobilizing Mental Health Advocacy.
“I am delighted that we have officially re-launched the Kitty Lundy Memorial Lecture Series,” said Naomi Adelson, associate dean of research in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, “and will continue to expand upon the series’ history of a commitment to equity, social justice and community engagement.”
The day-long event showcased two dynamic speakers, author Pat Capponi and the Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall. The event also included three parallel sessions:
- Mental Health Recovery and Wellness Approaches led by Professors Atsuko Matsuoka and Ann Thompson;
- Community Mobilization led by Professor Andrea Daley; and
- Conceptualizations of “Normality”/ “Abnormality” in Mental Health led by Professor Nick Mulé.
Capponi, author of the ground-breaking book Upstairs in the Crazy House, as well as Dispatches from the Poverty Line, The War at Home, Bound by Duty, and Beyond the Crazy House. Her address, Creating Our Own Path, Showing the Way, explored her own experiences with mental illness both as a survivor and as a researcher and was an impassioned call for mental health advocacy. The Lead Facilitator of the Voices From the Street program told those in attendance that prejudice and fear often get in the way of making advances in treating mental illness.
“When we use a really narrow lens to look at people, it really distorts our vision,” she said.
She also explained the perceived link between poverty and mental illness: “We see a guy on the street corner yelling at people and dressed in really dirty clothes…and we say ‘Aha! That’s the face of mental illness!’ It’s also the root of stigma and discrimination.”
Click here to watch Capponi’s lecture.
Hall, who is currently the chief commissioner of the Province of Ontario’s Human Rights Commission, has more than 40 years of experience as a community worker, lawyer and municipal politician. She served three terms as a Toronto city councilor from 1985 on and as Toronto’s mayor from 1994 to 1997. From 1998 to 2002 she headed the Canadian government’s National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention. Her address was titled “Minds that Matter: Human Rights, Mental Health and Addictions” and she brought a personal message to those in attendance about her experiences with mental illness.
“My mother was then called manic depressive and other members of the family experienced serious mental illness,” she said. “And I not only knew of the illnesses, but I also knew about the secrecy.”
She commended York for organizing the lecture series and for leading in the discussions of an issue that she said is too often ignored. That ignorance, said Hall, has led to difficulty in such fundamental needs as finding housing for the mentally ill. Many people opposing housing for the mentally ill simply “don’t want those people living next to us,” she said in explaining the resistance to her agency’s attempts to establish housing for mentally ill people in Toronto communities.
Click here to watch Hall’s lecture.
The March 28 lecture marked the re-launch of the Kitty Lundy Memorial Lecture Series, an annual showcase of speakers focusing on the topics of equity, social justice and community engagement.