2009 Rethinking Psychiatric Crisis, New York City

INTAR’s conference Rethinking Psychiatric Crisis: Alternative Responses to “First Breaks”
Was held Nov 23, 2009 at New York University’s Kimmel center, with more than 300 participants.

About The Conference
First-person accounts consistently show that treatment can compound the ordeal of early psychiatric crisis– especially those resulting in hospitalization. In addition to the disorientation of psychosis, or the bleak depths of depression, treatment itself can be an ordeal.

Even when offering welcome relief and safety, conventional biomedical responses can involve coercion, social isolation, the adverse effects of powerful medications, and suspension of life plans. Research suggests that lowering medication dose or delaying its use can reduce the disruptive effects associated with conventional treatment of first breaks. When combined with non-coercive, labor- intensive practices that draw upon kin and/or peers, viable alternatives to hospitalization have proven feasible. Although little known in the U.S., experience elsewhere suggests that such alternatives may provide gentler, more flexible, less disabling means of negotiating early crisis.

This conference will assemble experienced practitioners, seasoned researchers and informed users of such alternatives. It will explore their history, present-day problems and challenges, and prospects for expanding options for responding to psychiatric crisis in this country.

Download the conference brochure here..

Read more about the conference and an interview with Peter Stastny at Mental Illness Watch here.

Conference Presenters Included:

Robert Whitaker
, author of Mad in America
Jan Wallcraft, co-editor of the Handbook of Service User Involvement in Mental Health Research
Jaakko Seikkula, Professor of Psychotherapy in Norway and Finland; co-developer, Open Dialogue approach to family and network therapy in psychosis
Alma Menn, former Co-Director of Soteria House
Sue Estroff, author of Making It Crazy: An Ethnography of Psychiatric Clients in an American Community
Kim Hopper, co-editor of Recovery from Schizophrenia: An International Perspective and author of Reckoning with Homelessness
Ken Thompson, Associate Director of the Center for Mental Health Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Key Note: Why do we need Alternatives?
Will Hall host of Madness Radio and co-founder, Freedom Center
Listen to Audio recording of Will Hall’s Keynote speech here. Visit Will Hall’s website here.
Discussant: Sue Estroff

Plenaries: Introduction to Key Alternatives
Soteria , Open Dialogue,Survivor/Peer Driven Alternatives
How do we know these alternatives are safe and helpful?

Closing Panel: Alternatives, Capabilities and System Transformation
Robert Whitaker, Andy Blanch, Ron Bassman, Ken Thompson

First Break and Crisis Alternatives, UK
Family Involvement and Self Determination
Crisis Residential Alternatives, USA
Trauma of First Break and Traditional Interventions
Medication and  First Break
What is happening to young people?: Critical Look at Prevention Programs
Advocating for Alternatives in the Age of Health Care Reform

MultiMedia Show
Bonfire Madigan Shive

Speak Out,
Lauren Tenney

The 2009 annual conference was held in in collaboration with the Center to Study Recovery in Social Contexts, and with additional support from Community Access, The Empowerment Center and Mental Disability Rights International.

Volunteer photographers Brian MacKinnon, Will Hall, and Krista MacKinnon recorded the pre-conference retreat in Rye, NY, and the conference itself at NYU’s Kimmel Center. The harvest is shared online at INTAR’s Flickr account and can be viewed on our Photo Gallery page, and also viewed as a slideshow below.

View the photos and slideshow here:

Pre-conference position papers