By Leah Harris

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this month we are highlighting just a few virtual events and conversations, both past and upcoming, led by and for people with lived experience and allies, that examine mental health awareness from a social justice and recovery-oriented perspective. Some of these events are free, and others are fundraisers for peer-run and allied organizations. We hope these events will inspire you to consider, and plant seeds for, new and creative possibilities for the future we all want to see. 

May 7: Fear and Grief are Not Mental Illness (And Never Were): An Urgent Conversation

A panel discussion including psychologist and mental health policy expert Peter Kinderman, mental health activist and advocate Laura Delano, mental health activist and advocate Carina Håkansson, mental health advocate and executive Keris Myrick, mental health attorney Kathy Flaherty, psychologist and person with lived experience of both COVID-19 and psychiatry Noel Hunter, and lead editor of the MIA research news team Justin Karter. Join Kermit Cole and John Read for a discussion of mental health diagnosis and treatment in response to trauma in the COVID era, and how we might learn from this moment to strengthen our collective ability to always hear and respond to the voices we need to hear. Catch the replay!

May 19: Support and Strategies for the Family Members of Voice-Hearers: A Benefit for the Hearing Voices Network, USA

When a family member is hearing voices or seeing/sensing things we cannot, sometimes it is hard to know how to be supportive and compassionate to our loved ones.  We may be experiencing our own fears, anxieties, or big feelings.  The mental health system response may feel confusing, cold and/or simply not effective.  The Hearing Voices Network offers new paths forward.  Join us for this interactive presentation designed specifically for family members.

Register here.

May 26: Beyond Possible: Hearing Voices Film Premiere and Panel Discussion

Beyond Possible is a 22-minute documentary that explores what the Hearing Voices approach looks like, how it began, and the ways in which it is expanding our view of what is possible in the lives of people who hear voices, see visions, and/or have other similarly non-consensus-reality-based experiences. Join us for a live screening and interactive conversation with U.S. voice-hearers who appear in the film including Claire Bien, Terresa Ford, Mike Mansur, Bill Sorel, and Caroline Mazel-Carlton, who will moderate the discussion. Register here.

May 31: ISPS-US Book Club: Hearing Voices, Living Fully by Claire BienIn this gripping memoir, Claire recounts with eloquence her most troubled times. She explains how she managed to regain control over her mind and her life even while intermittently hearing voices, through self-guided and professional therapy and with the support of family and friends. Challenging a purely medical understanding of hearing voices, Claire advocates for an end to the stigma of those who experience auditory verbal hallucinations, and a change of thinking from the professionals who treat the condition. When you purchase a ticket, you will be added to the listserv and given the Zoom link to the Q & A which will happen on Sunday May 31st at 7pm EST. Register here.