5 Things You Can Do In 5 Minutes to UnDiagnose Emotional Distress

Corinna West
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A lot of posts on this site are about the problems in mental health care. This post is about some solutions. Many of us can do small, simple things to move advocacy forward. We can all make a difference so people can learn how to handle emotional distress without using disease based approaches with chemically based “solutions.”  Here are 5 things you can do in the next five minutes to promote UnDiagnosing Emotional Distress.

Winners of Poetry for Personal Power in St. Joseph, MO, holding up their UnDiagnosing Emotional Distress T-shirts.
Winners of Poetry for Personal Power in St. Joseph, MO, holding up their UnDiagnosing Emotional Distress T-shirts. We’ve been getting honest mental health information to college students for 3 years.

1) Put an innovation reason AND a comment on our $25,000 for Poetry for Personal Power nomination. This is a competition for mental health innovations hosted by the Scattergood foundation and the deadline is in 6 days. Currently we are in 6th place out of 50 nominations and the top 5 go to the finals. In 5 minutes you can review our nomination and comment, and reply to some other commenters as well to boost our comment count.

2) Complete a Poetry for Personal Power replication application.  In five minutes readers of this site who know the stuff already could complete our replication application OR refer the program to a brand new artist or community organizer that you might know. You can earn up to $1000 for hosting events where young people talk about overcoming adversity. It doesn’t have to be a poetry event, anything where you use our name and logo, talk about our key program concepts, and have audience interaction.

3) RSVP yes to our UnDiagnosing UnPlanned UnConference. This is February 15 – 17 in Cincinnati. Many mental health advocates do not interact with other communities, and consequently we are still talking about 30 year old models like peer support centers and respite care as “innovative.” However, these models aren’t able to scale up and expand around the country or else they already would have. Let’s go out into some new communities and get some new ideas. If you can’t come to the conference, join our UnDiagnosing Discussion group, and better yet, add someone you disagree with to the group and then figure out how to usefully engage them.

Innov8 Healthcare Cincinnati is business plan pitch competition. Here's Connect Power being pitched by Corinna West, Christopher Swope, and Claus Wawrzinek in Undiagnosing Shirts.
Innov8 Healthcare Cincinnati is business plan pitch competition. Here’s Connect Power being pitched by Corinna West, Christopher Swope, and Claus Wawrzinek in Undiagnosing Shirts.

Our conference links with a HealthCare Innovation Challenge, a community organizing skill building session, and ends with a third day of spontaneously planned workshops. We meet Sunday morning, and everyone who wants to teach something has a minute to pitch their idea. The ideas go on an index card on a bulletin board, then we vote ideas into time slots, and voila – conference. Without the man hours of workshop review, program making, room selection, planning, etc. We’re working on finding homestay volunteers to help with lodging expenses and you can also use crowdsurfing.com and airbnb.com to work on free lodging. We’re also working on a crowdfunding pitch to help with travel expenses. People have asked for a long time for cheaper conference ideas – here’s ours, plus a way to stop hearing the same old ideas rehashed yet again.

4) Learn a new job skill. Complete our Volunteer Application for Wellness Wordworks. We’ve been working to clarify and modularize our volunteer process. We now have 30 minute chunks, where in the first 5 minutes you can learn a brand new skill, like social messaging, video editing, maintaining a Twitter account, grant writing, or marketing. Then for 20 minutes you help manage our accounts using that skill, then 5 minutes to report back. It’s much easier to learn online stuff if you add to an existing account than to start from scratch. So the 30 minutes you put into our stuff helps you build your own job.

In the White Walking Art Gallery Jacket to the right is Casey Whalen, one of the founders of Medstartr. In front is Emily Bell, a crew person for Dave Cornthwaite who swam 1000 miles down the Missouri River. Her shirt says, "Say yes more."
In the White Walking Art Gallery Jacket to the right is Casey Whalen, one of the founders of Medstartr. In front is Emily Bell, a crew person for Dave Cornthwaite who swam 1000 miles down the Missouri River. Her shirt says, “Say yes more.”

5) Support projects on MedStartr and other crowdfunding sites. Medstartr was founded by “patient advocates” who were harmed by medicine in other disease areas, who want to change the system. Many of them are psych survivors, too.  I’ll be posting some ideas I have in the works about medication withdrawal research articles, the impact of art, website building expenses for peers, surveys about homelessness, etc. Look shortly for our project for travel scholarships to our UnDiagnosing Unplanned Unconference.

That’s about it – probably my shortest post yet on MIA. I’m personally still working through the last of my spiritual emergency and not 100% back to work yet, although I’m almost done with two weeks back now after missing a whole month and a half. I didn’t know things could be tough like this, but I guess what doesn’t kill me is just material for blogs and poems. Here’s the moderately comprehensive list of what I’ve written so far about my spiritual emergency.