Saturday, May 27, 2017

Mental Health Symposium Opens

The Virtual Ability community in Second Life invites you to join us for our sixth annual Mental Health Symposium. It will be held on Saturday, May 27, beginning at 6am Pacific (9am Eastern), and continuing through 5:30pm Pacific (8:30pm Eastern). This year's conference theme is "I can relate to that." It is free and open to the public. The Symposium takes place in Virtual Ability’s The Sojourner Auditorium, on Virtual Ability island. The SLURL for the auditorium is: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Ability/54/170/23.

Our international group of presenters offers a wide interpretation of the theme, based on their interests and academic backgrounds. Attendees will learn ways to promote mental health for themselves and their families, how diet affects mental health, and how first responders and medical clinicians can improve their own mental health.

Below is the full schedule for the conference. Please note that SLT is US Pacific Daylight Time.
6:00am SLT
Tracy Burrows “Diet, Nutrition and Food Addiction”
7:30am SLT
Sarah Henderson and Kristin Klimley “First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention”
9:00am SLT
Joel Edman “Nutritional and Holistic Approaches to Stomach and Intestinal Disorders: Practical guidelines that can also be helpful for chronic and/or complex health issues”
10:30am SLT
Join us on selection of tours of SL sites related to mental health in Second Life
Noon SLT
Ian Colman “Mental health promotion - What can you do for you and your loved ones?”
1:30pm SLT
Karen Davison “Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security”
3pm SLT
Diana Anderson “Virtual Windows: Design solutions to improve the mental health of clinical staff”
4:30pm SLT
Namaara MacMoragh "Mental Health Following Brain Injury"

If you are unable to attend the conference inworld you can view the live stream here: https://www.youtube.com/c/Draxtor/live.

Friday, May 26, 2017

MHS Spotlight: Namaara McMoragh

The final speaker for the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium hosted by Virtual Ability, Inc.® on Saturday the 27th of May, with the theme, "I can relate to that" will be Namaara McMoragh. Be sure and attend as many sessions as you can; the conference is free and open to the public.

Namaara MacMoragh is the avatar of Gloria Kraegel. Ms. Kraegel has been a nonprofit consultant for 30 years and is currently the Executive Director of the Brain Energy Support Team, an organization created by, and for, those with brain injury and their families. She is also the owner of Etopia EcoCommunity Sims in Second Life and blends the virtual and physical worlds to provide education and social opportunities that build community and showcase the potential of cooperative and interdependent living.


Ms. Kraegel’s presentation, titled “Mental Health After Brain Injury,” will begin at 4:30pm US Pacific (7:30pm US Eastern). Brain injury is not a mental illness even when behavioral issues and mood changes are manifest. All too often the medications used to treat chemical imbalances in the brain do not work to treat physical changes due to an injury. This presentation will share information about brain injury and how to create good mental health for yourself and with your health care team.

You can see the full schedule in this previous post or inworld just outside The Sojourner Auditorium.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The month of May has traditionally been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month. In addition to hosting the annual Mental Health Symposium, a free professional conference open to the general public (full schedule here), the Virtual Ability community posts exhibits and displays related to mental health on its Healthinfo Island.

A major display for Mental Health Awareness Month may be found here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Healthinfo%20Island/196/156/23.

Another display about Brain Injury and Mental Health can be viewed here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Healthinfo%20Island/172/154/22

An exhibit on Bipolar Disorder is seen here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Healthinfo%20Island/25/24/30

Click the title poster of the exhibit or display to get a full text notecard. Click each poster for live links and text chat.

Other exhibits and displays on Healthinfo Island during May include:


Thanks to Mook Wheeler and Namaara MacMoragh for creating these exhibit and display materials for Healthinfo Island.

An additional resource available on Healthinfo Island is the Path of Support. The Path is bordered by posters representing over 120 peer support groups available in Second Life for individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions. Numerous groups are available to support individuals with mental health issues. Click a poster and you will receive information about the group and how to join it.

Virtual Ability maintains Healthinfo Island as a health and wellness resource for the entire Second Life population. Please visit there soon to see what is available.




Thursday, May 25, 2017

MHS Special Spotlights: First Responder Mental Health and Mini-Tours

Today We feature two more speakers we have invited to present at the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium on Saturday the 27th of May, with the theme, "I can relate to that." We hope you will find these topics of great interest and mark your calendar to attend the symposium. We also have something new this year, mini-tours of three SL locations of interest in the topic of mental health.



First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention
Sarah Henderson, MS, and Kristin Klimley, BS, present “First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention” at 7:30am US Pacific time. This presentation will explore a variety of topics related to first responders and mental health. These include: background of the culture, research findings, and interventions. Additionally, this presentation will discuss police officer crisis intervention team (CIT) training and its benefits to the community.

Sarah N. Henderson is a fourth year clinical psychology doctoral candidate at Nova Southeastern University. Her research has focused on behavioral health issues in first responders, particularly the effects of post-traumatic stress on physical health conditions. Ms. Henderson has published several articles related to stress and suicide within the fire service and co-created a number of behavioral health programs within Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services. Ms. Henderson is also a co-coordinator of the Family Violence Program, under Dr. Van Hasselt.

Kristin Klimley is a second year clinical psychology doctoral student at Nova Southeastern University, hoping to specialize in trauma and police psychology. Ms. Klimley is the Research Coordinator for Dr. Van Hasselt’s Police Psychology Research and Training Team, as well as a Nova Players Coordinator working with various hostage negotiation teams in South Florida. Ms. Klimley is engaged in research with various first responder populations including law enforcement, emergency dispatchers, firefighters, and correctional staff.



Mini Tours of SL Mental Health Sites
Something new for the Mental Health Symposium this year is a trio of mini-tours of virtual world sites devoted to information in different formats about mental health issues. You can attend one, two, or all three of the tours, as your schedule permits.

Each tour lasts 20 minutes, and will leave every half hour (10:30, 11 and 11:30am US Pacific time (1:30, 2 and 2:30pm US Eastern time) from the Symposium site in The Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability island. You will return to the Auditorium between tours to join a different tour group. All tours will be conducted simultaneously in voice+text for full accessibility.

1) Virtual Hallucinations is an activity set in a mental health clinic. It’s an opportunity to experience life as a person with schizophrenia. After a group introduction outside the clinic, tour participants will enter and go through one at a time.

WARNING: This is an immersive tour, with known “triggers.” Some people may find it disturbing and overwhelming.

This tour will be led by Em Warrior. Em lives in Canada in real life, but is everywhere in SL. She came to SL over 11 years ago. As she is deaf, SL is a great social media format for her. She has also learned many things - to build and hostess events including live musical events. She’s met a lot of great people from all over the world in SL, which has helped her understanding of geography. If you're curious about anything else, feel free to ask.

Em’s “voice” for the tour will be Eme Capalini, Vice President of Development for Virtual Ability, Inc. A native of Texas, she has worked on numerous VAI development projects with researchers from different universities and government agencies. One of the projects Eme worked on with the US military was AVESS, the Amputee Virtual Environment Support Space. She also just completed a project involving the use of avatars to teach new amputees to use their prostheses.

2) Ethnographia is part of a research project, "Virtual Worlds, Disability, and New Cultures of the Embodied Self." This project has two Principal Investigators, Professor Tom Boellstorff (University of California, Irvine) and Professor Donna Z. Davis (University of Oregon). It is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Persons with disabilities create studio spaces on the dedicated islands, and use art to explain how they have used Second Life to change their experiences living with a disability.

Jadyn Firehawk is a medically retired professor from the University of Texas at Austin, who used to conduct research in Yosemite National Park. An award-winning builder, she is owner of Maganda Arts and Yosemite in Second Life. She is the founder and director of the Pixel To Pixel Foundation, which assists people in Second Life who are on disability.

Jadyn has created an Ethnographia exhibit telling the story of how she become disabled, struggled with mental illness, and how her experiences in a virtual world have helped her rebuild a sense of identity in the years ever since. The title of her exhibit is “Reconstructing Identity After Disability: A 'Build Biography'.” This is another immersive experience.

3) Whole Brain Health is an effort in Second Life supported by the nonprofit Ageless Mind Project (http://agelessmindproject/org). On Inspiration Island in Second Life, you’ll find information and activities to promote mental health and self-care. The community has a special focus on wellness of persons over the age of 50.

The tour group will stay within the Multiple Intelligences Experience (MIE) area of Inspiration Island. After a brief explanation of the focus of Whole Brain Health and its relation to promoting mental health in seniors, visitors can explore the MIE. The tour will end with a brief Q and A.

The 10:30am SLT tour will be led by Lissena (aka Wisdomseeker). She is the co-founder of the Ageless Mind Project, based on New York State, and the Director of Whole Brain Health in Second Life. She has been a clinical social worker for 35 years, with special training in an evidence-based multi-dimensional approach to brain wellness. She is the owner of Inspiration Island, where over 30 Collective members offer programs and activities that promote brain health and total well-being

The 11am and 11:30am tours will be led by Ewan Bonham (Scott Anstadt in the physical world), a retired faculty in Social Work. One area of research and publication while he was teaching was the use of virtual reality to enhance exposure to diverse world cultures and spiritual orientations. Since the conception of Whole Brain Health team, he has provided opportunities for resident explorations throughout Second Life to explore its vast resources. To assist in this endeavor, he developed the Community Cultural Teleportation Hub, and facilitated a variety of interactive groups including the current Transcendent Activation mindful meditation practices.


The full schedule for the symposium hosted by Virtual Ability, Inc.®, can be seen in this previous post. It is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MHS Speaker Spotlights

We feature two more speakers we have invited to present at the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium on Saturday the 27th of May, with the theme, "I can relate to that." We hope you will find these topics of great interest and mark your calendar to attend the symposium.

Diana Anderson, MD, M.Arch, is a board-certified healthcare architect with the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA) and a board-certified physician through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). As a “dochitect”, Dr. Anderson combines educational and professional experience in both medicine and architecture, in order to fully understand the medical planning of healthcare environments. She has worked on hospital design projects within the United States, Canada and Australia. A frequent speaker about the impacts of healthcare design on patient outcomes, clinician wellness, and care delivery, Dr. Anderson is currently a Human Experience Lab Fellow at Perkins+Will Architects, and co-founder of the Clinicians for Design group.

Virtual Windows: Design solutions to improve the mental health of clinical staff" is the title of Dr. Anderson’s presentation, beginning at 3:00pm US Pacific time. Although recent versions of design guidelines for healthcare facility construction provide minimum standards for patient rooms to have windows, no guidelines currently exist to ensure clinical staff areas have access to light or views, whether real or virtual. Recent studies have shown that physicians-in-training experience high rates of burnout and depression. Can design of the environment soften the metaphor of the hospital as a battleground for trainees?

Views and images, either real or virtual, should be considered just as important for the clinical staff as they are for patients. Although newer buildings may emphasize a narrower floor-plate to maximize this window access, many older facilities maintain deeper floor plans required for diagnostic and procedural programs where light may be difficult to capture. In these cases the provision for virtual windows or views would be beneficial.

The importance of the virtual window for healthcare staff considers mental health in addition to physical health. Some association has been shown between rotating night shift nursing work and the risk of coronary heart disease, although further research is needed to explore whether the association is related to specific work hours and individual characteristics. Through case studies and evidence-based research examples, design implications of using virtual windows and their potential impact on the wellbeing of healthcare staff will be explored during this session.

Dr. Joel S. Edman, DSc, FACN, CNS, Clinical Nutritionist, Health Coach, Educator and Integrative Health Consultant, will speak at 9:00am US Pacific. His topic is “Nutritional and Holistic Approaches to Stomach and Intestinal Disorders: Practical guidelines that can also be helpful for chronic and/or complex health issues.” He states, “We all may have stomach and intestinal symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, gas, constipation, diarrhea and other symptoms from time to time. I will provide some background information on these GI symptoms, as well as some specific approaches to help reduce or eliminate them.” He puts his recommendations into a holistic framework of nutrition, exercise and stress management that can be the foundation of a healthy lifestyle for general health and well-being.

Dr. Edman was the Director of Integrative Nutrition and Associate Research Director for the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital (Pennsylvania, US). A Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, he specializes in teaching and coaching about the most effective use of nutritional and integrative health therapies for everything from chronic and complex symptoms and disorders to wellness and disease prevention. He has developed nutrition, lifestyle and integrative health programs for individuals with heart disease risk factors, neuropsychological disorders, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders and other diagnoses. His consultations and coaching programs focus on approaches that are individually tailored to the unique needs and characteristics of each person or group.

The full schedule for the symposium hosted by Virtual Ability, Inc.®, can be seen in this previous post. It is free and open to the public.

Monday, May 22, 2017

MHS Speaker Spotlights

Today we feature two speakers we have invited to present at the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium on Saturday the 27th of May, with the theme, "I can relate to that." We hope you will find these topics of great interest and mark your calendar to attend the symposium.


Mental health promotion - what can you do for you and your loved ones?
Ian Colman, PhD, is the Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Epidemiology and is an Associate Professor in the School of Epidemiology, Public Health, & Preventive Medicine at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Colman's research lab investigates factors associated with depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior, with a particular focus on public health approaches toward prevention and intervention.

His presentation at noon US Pacific time is titled "Mental health promotion - what can you do for you and your loved ones?” This talk will focus on things that people can do that might help their own mental health, and in doing so may also improve the mental health of those around them. Research will be discussed supporting the importance of a healthy diet, social activity, and speaking to a health professional when you are concerned about your mental health.


Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security
Karen Davison, PhD, RD, is a registered dietitian and certified health education specialist who consults on nutrition and psychiatry. She is also a faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and research affiliate with the Social Justice Centre. She was the project lead for the Dietitians of Canada role paper on nutrition and mental health (www.dietitians.ca/mentalhealth). Currently, she is the principal investigator of the Bridging the Divide project.

Dr. Davison advocates for integrated approaches to nutrition and mental health care and participatory approaches to research. Her presentation, “Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security,” will begin at 1:30pm US Pacific time (4:30pm US Eastern time). A growing body of evidence indicates that food insecurity, diet quality, and mental health are interrelated. In this presentation, we will explore this research and where future efforts may be directed that foster nutritional and mental health. As part of this discussion, Canada's Bridging the Divide project (http://nutritionandmentalhealth.ca) will be highlighted.


The full schedule for the symposium hosted by Virtual Ability, Inc.®, can be seen in this previous post. It is free and open to the public.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

MHS Speaker Spotlight: Tracy Burrows, PhD.

With the sixth annual Mental Health Symposium coming up on the 27th of this month, we will feature a series of "speaker spotlights" in the coming days to introduce the presenters and share a bit about their topics. We are pleased to bring you this one-day conference with this year's theme being, "I can relate to that."

Tracy Burrows, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle in Australia. She is an Advanced Accredited Practicing Dietitian. She is highly passionate about all things food, food behaviours, and communicating high quality, evidence-based information about diet and nutrition. Tracy has expertise in the areas of the assessment and validation of dietary intake, obesity management across the lifespan and food addiction. She has delivered a range of community interventions and is involved in all aspects of teaching, from undergraduate through postgraduate.

Dr. Burrow’s presentation will open the conference at 6:00am US Pacific time (9:00am US Eastern). Her talk is titled “Diet, Nutrition and Food Addiction.” The talk will provide an overview of what is currently known about food and nutrition and recent research investigating food addiction. These studies have shown overlaps between food addiction and other mental health issues, particularly depression.

View the full symposium schedule, given in our previous announcement. The symposium is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Announcing: 6th Annual Mental Health Symposium

The Virtual Ability community in Second Life invites you to join us for our sixth annual Mental Health Symposium. It will be held on Saturday, May 27, beginning at 6am Pacific (9am Eastern), and continuing through 5:30pm Pacific (8:30pm Eastern). There is no charge to attend.

The theme of this year’s Symposium is “I can relate to that.” Our international group of presenters offers a wide interpretation of the theme, based on their interests and academic backgrounds. Attendees will learn ways to promote mental health for themselves and their families, how diet affects mental health, and how first responders and medical clinicians can improve their own mental health.

The Symposium takes place in Virtual Ability’s The Sojourner Auditorium, on Virtual Ability island. The SLURL for the auditorium is: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Ability/54/170/23.

The Virtual Ability community hosts this annual Symposium to share information about mental health and mental disabilities with the general population. Within our cross-disability community we have members who deal with a variety of mental health issues. Not only is this an opportunity for our community members to learn more about topics related to mental health from experts they probably would not have a chance to meet otherwise, it is allows the general public to attend a professional conference for free.

The 2017 Mental Health Symposium schedule is as follows (SLT is US Pacific Daylight Time):
6:00am SLT
Tracy Burrows “Diet, Nutrition and Food Addiction”
7:30am SLT
Sarah Henderson and Kristin Klimley “First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention”
9:00am SLT
Joel Edman “Nutritional and Holistic Approaches to Stomach and Intestinal Disorders: Practical guidelines that can also be helpful for chronic and/or complex health issues”
10:30am SLT
Join us on selection of tours of SL sites related to mental health in Second Life
Noon SLT
Ian Colman “Mental health promotion - What can you do for you and your loved ones?”
1:30pm SLT
Karen Davison “Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security”
3pm SLT
Diana Anderson “Virtual Windows: Design solutions to improve the mental health of clinical staff”
4:30pm SLT
Namaara MacMoragh "Mental Health Following Brain Injury"

Please contact info@virtualability.org for additional information.