Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mental Health Symposium 2018 on Saturday!

Saturday April 21, 2018 is the day that a focus on mental health takes the stage at The Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability in Second Life®. The SLURL to the venue is

A strong and varied lineup awaits attendees this year, with the theme being "I Am Not My Illness: Identity and Mental Health." The entire conference will be livestreamed at this link: for those who cannot attend the event in world. If you are coming into Second Life for the first time to attend, you can visit this page for steps to enter Second Life and come to The Sojourner Auditorium. Below is a quick listing of the conference schedule. All times are Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

  • 6am Divya Padmanabhan
    "Dancing Crazy? Unpacking the category of possession-form dissociative identity disorder"
  • 7am Panel
    "Mental Illness in Poetry"
  • 8:15am Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi
    "People with depression use language differently"
  • 9:30am Philip Yanos
    "How do people diagnosed with mental illness become written off? How can they overcome it?"
  • 10:45am Meg Peters
    "Challenging the Conception that Social Media Causes Bad Mental Health"
  • Noon Performance by ~DRUM~
  • 1:15pm Alita Nandi
    "Ethnic and racial harassment and mental health: Identifying sources of resilience"
  • 2:30pm Joe DeLuca
    "Forensic Psychiatric Experiences, Stigma, and Self-Concept"
  • 3:45pm Isabelle Martin
    "Visions of Infinity: Singularity, Proliferation, and Transcendence in Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms"
  • 5pm Carolyn Weisz
    "Stigmatized Identities, Psychological Distress, and Physical Health among Individuals Experiencing Homelessness"

You can read more about the presenters on Virtual Ability's website.

In the weeks leading up to the conference, we met with the presenters to orient them to giving their talks in this virtual setting. In doing this, we coach them through navigating with their avatars, dressing them according to their preferences, and using the screen and teleprompter presentation tools. They discover it is not exactly the same as giving a presentation in the physical world, but the outcome is the same. Their message is shared and the audiences actively engage in discussions during the Q&A periods.

To the right, you see an image of the avatar of a presenter for the conferece, Joe DeLuca. He created this avatar for his appearance at this conference. You will see that all the presenters have unique appearances that suit them.

Here at right is a snapshot of a pair of avatars who look quite similar. One of them is presenter Alita Nandi; the other is Gentle Heron. Who is which? (Hint: The avatar on the left wanted to make her appearance more unique.) In the process of orientation, we help the presenters to customise their avatars - it helps them to reflect themselves the way they wish to appear at the conference.

As a special mid-conference feature we are excited to feature a performance by ~DRUM~, a drumming troupe well known for its wonderfully creative, original rhythms.

The name DRUM is an acronym: Divine Rhythms of Universal Music. DRUM's goal is to bring the world to you via the power of drumming, with the aim to have fun and to create incredibly beautiful rhythms - live. All of their works are their own, drawing inspiration from 10 different drum cultures.

The group consists of these performers, who drum and/or dance:
Almost (almostthere.inventor)
Beach (artebor.zenovka)
Dream (dream.wrexan)
Fil (yark)
Maia Antarra (psiberangel)
Vian Magic
Peni (skydiverpeni.fall)
Starlite (stargazersatelite)
Sandar Gausman