Authors: Flick Grey
Event: 2017 TheMHS Conference
Subject: keynote, distress, madness, lived experience,
Type of resource: Video
Abstract: View the video of Flick Grey's Keynote Presentation at TheMHS Conference 2017 in Sydney, Australia. The presentation is also followed by a Q&A session.
When I first came into contact with the mental health system, I was offered a diagnosis, a framework within which I – and those close to me – could make sense of my/our confusing and distressing experiences. While this diagnosis offered some clarity and relief in the short term, it wasn’t long before I began to wonder if this was the most useful way to make sense of my experiences, relationships and context. Diagnoses (like many other ways of understanding distress/madness) inscribe sense-making systems that originate outside of ourselves (and those close to us) and function to individualise and de-contextualise our experiences. Ever since that first contact, I’ve been wondering (and wandering) – how can we make sense of our experiences of distress/madness, who needs to be involved in this process of sense-making, and how can we sit with multiple perspectives (especially when the medical model is so dominant)? Who (or what) is the subject? How would we structure responses to people in distress/madness if we took these questions seriously? Inspired first by the international consumer/survivor/ex-patient movement and then by the mental health alternatives movement, my current work is grounded in Intentional Peer Support, Open Dialogue and the fledgling discipline of Mad Studies. The mental health landscape is shifting – with (rhetorical?) movement towards recovery, co-production, the “lived experience” workforce and Open Dialogue – but entrenched patterns of power/sense-making remain, with very real material consequences. This talk seeks to open up more space for other ways of thinking about, being with and learning from distress/madness.