Mental Health Symposium 2012

Our society too often takes mental health for granted and too frequently stigmatizes people with mental health issues. The Virtual Ability Mental Health Symposium 2012, on Saturday, April 28, offers a variety of perspectives for thinking positively about mental health.

Presentations will take place at various locations in Second Life.  The full schedule is posted below.

Alice Krueger, president of Virtual Ability, Inc., notes, “A symposium is a formal meeting where individual presentations are followed by discussion. We intend these sessions to encourage audience participation with the presenters and especially with the content the presenters share. Mental health is too important a topic to ignore.”

NameTitleDescriptionPresenter Bio
Dr. Tina GarciaCognitive Rehabilitation: The Evidence, Funding and Case for Advocacy in Brain InjuryCognitive rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury consists of a systematically applied set of medical and therapeutic services that are intended to improve cognitive functioning. Numerous research studies have shown the effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation, yet it is rarely covered by insurance. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has established treatment guidelines while promoting the efficacy of the therapy.Dr. Tina Garcia, J.D., LLM, is a US Air Force Veteran, a survivor of traumatic brain injury, a lawyer, and a disability activist.
Alice Krueger (Second Life Avatar: Gentle Heron)“Vodka and Saliva” from Paul Broks’ Into the Silent LandGentle Heron will read aloud (with text) a chapter from Paul Broks’ book Into the Silent Land. This essay explores the nature of self-understanding. We will discuss the viewpoints presented, and think about how we view ourselves as individuals unique among all of humanity.Broks is a consultant in neuropsychology at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK. He was a runner-up for the Wellcome Trust Science Prize, and writes about his work as a neuropsychologist in magazines and newspapers as well as this book of essays.
Frank Hannah (Second Life Avatar: Frederick Hansome)Pathways to Mental HealthThis lecture introduces a concept of mental health that will probably be new to you. You will be able to use it to develop a rock-solid self concept, learn to make wise choices, accomplish more and improve your relationships. This approach to optimum mental health helps prevent the mental and physical problems that may otherwise occur. Handicaps don’t count here: everyone can develop optimum mental health!Frank Hannah (SL avatar: Frederick Hansome) is a retired mental health counselor with over 20 years clinical experience in private practice. He holds a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Nova University (now NovaSoutheastern).

In SL, as the alt “Plato Greybeard”, Hannah moderated a philosophical discussion group for about 2 1/2 years at Plato’s Academy. He closed the Academy to use his SL time to promote mental health. Please visit his website:
Dick Dillon (Second Life Avatar: Coughran Mayo)Why Virtual Counseling Should Be Viewed as Advanced Telemedicine
(Keynote Presentation)
We will discuss a variety of ways in which the characteristics of virtual world platforms, when used in the service of counseling, are not only as good as “real life,” but usually better.

Among the issues to be reviewed are “24/7 durability,” role plays and scene changes, and “I am my Avatar and my Avatar is me – or NOT”
Dick Dillon has been in the mental health field for over 30 years in a variety of management and administrative positions. He recently left his position as Senior VP of Planning and Development for Preferred Family Healthcare to open his own consultation firm, Innovaision, LLC – dedicated to helping nonprofits realize the potential of using virtual worlds and other technologies. Through his SL avatar, Coughran Mayo, Dillon has spent over 5 years actively involved in Second Life, working for the NonProfit Commons initiative and building and hosting the Preferred Family HC sim. He has made numerous presentations and been interviewed on Metanomics, Rockcliffe University’s “Inside The Avatar Studio” program and other inworld news and issues programs.
Debra London
Dr. Marty Jencius
Counselor Education in Second LifeThis presentation will explore the development of the Counselor Educators in Second Life (CESL) center and the types of programs offered there. The focus will be on how best to utilize the unique aspects of Second Life as a training platform for counselor. Also addressed will be effective ways to introduce non-Second Life residents to the platform so that they can effectively participate in training events.Debra London (Second Life Avatar: Debra Hilra) is a Doctoral Student, Adjunct Instructor and Mental Health Counselor in Cleveland, Ohio. She has been a Second Life resident for over 5 years and has worked with the CESL center for over 3 years.

Dr. Marty Jencius (Second Life Avatar: Kimbo Scribe) is an Associate Professor of Counseling at Kent State University and a resident of Second Life for 3 1/2 years. His area of scholarship is in computer use in training counselors.
Anya IborThe Neurobiology of PTSDThe brain is an amazing organ. Injuries such as those which are associated with PTSD may never heal. But the brain is “plastic,” which means the functions damaged by the brain injury can be relearned by other parts of the brain.Anya Ibor is the Founder and Executive Director of Fearless Nation PTSD Support, a 501c3 NonProfit Organization dedicated to providing free public education, support and advocacy for the understanding of PTSD. Since 2009 Fearless Nation has provided a virtual therapeutic support group.
MermaidSue BaileyMental Health and the Importance of Peer SupportMermaidSue Bailey will lead a discussion on the importance of peer support to good mental health.MermaidSue Bailey is facilitator of the self-help group “When Life Goes Out of Control,” which is in its second year now and becoming a useful weekly fixture for its increasing group of members, all of whom either have a disability themselves or a family disability which impacts on daily life. In RL, Sue works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in the United Kingdom, in private practice and within the hospice movement. She has two teenage daughters and is a school governor. In theory she doesn’t bring her professional life into Second Life, but experience in group therapy, as well as being a woman with a disability, gives her useful skills in facilitating more informal groups in virtual settings – but very much as a member of the group also in need of support from other people with disabilities.
Roberto Salvatierra (Second Life Avatar: Roberto Salubrius)Mental Health Isn’t All MentalRoberto was diagnosed with agoraphobia. He was unable to continue medical school, and became confined to his home. He will tell about his experiences, and what he learned about his health.Roberto Salvatierra, (SL avatar Roberto Salubrius), was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1975. He had a bilingual education, and since an early age he worked with computers. At age 19, he started having panic attacks, until it evolved to agoraphobia by the time he was 24. He went to Medical School, where he got a minor on medical sciences and was going for his degree as Medical Doctor until his agoraphobia caught up with him, short of finishing Medical School. Since then he has been working on Second Life as a full time programmer for his own company, Techno Kitty Development, and for co-owned animation company Medhue Animations. In his free time he does a lot of medical research, especially on Mental Health, Cardiology, Endocrinology and Dysautonomias.
DyVerse Jeffery-SteeleMental Health and Minority CommunitiesApril is (US) National Minority Health Month. Minority communities face unique problems related to mental health.

Living in poverty has the most measurable effects on the rates of mental illness. Minorities are overrepresented among the lowest socioeconomic groups, and thus have higher rates of mental illness than do non-Hispanic whites. Racism and discrimination cause increased levels of stress, which can adversely affect mental health.
DyVerse Jeffery-Steele is a peer support leader for chronic illness and the issues that arise from illness. He has been a peer support leader in Second Life and in real life for HIV/AIDS and diabetes, and the mental health issues that come with those diseases. A strong supporter and user of social media and virtual worlds for health support and education, DyVerse has an office on Health Commons island.