Taiwan Cancer Friends New Life Association -- WFMH Representatives Attend Asian Meetings
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WFMH Representatives Attend Asian Meetings    Home > Latest News

 

 

WFMH President Patt Franciosi and two WFMH Board members participated in meetings in Taiwan in October. Dr. Franciosi gave a plenary presentation on "Building Global Partnerships for Children's Mental Health" at the Third Congress of the Asian Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions. She also gave a pre-sensation at the School of Public Health, Taiwan University, and visited Yu-hi Veterans Hospital, a large psychiatric hospital. During her stay she went to several rehabilitation centers, children's programs and traditional Chinese medicine clinics to see their activities.

 

Consumers Conference

WFMH Honorary Secretary Janet Meagher (Australia) and Board member- at-large Janet Paleo (USA) were invited speakers at the First Asian Pacific Conference on the Psychiatric Community-based Model of Empowerment for Persons with Mental Illness, held at Soochow University, Taipei. Their hosts were TAMI (Alliance for the Mentally Ill of the Republic of China) and a fellow Board member, Professor Chua Chang. The program also included speakers from New Zealand (World Fellowship for Schizophrenia), South Africa (South African Depression & Anxiety Group), and Singapore (Anglican Welfare Council). Janet Meagher spoke on "How to Create Community-based Model Programs?" and Janet Paleo spoke on "Community Adaptation Activities for Persons with Mental Illness" Janet Meagher said that "People were very receptive towards us as active and participating consumers and were most curious about how consumers in our positions managed our disorders as well as being able to participate at this level. She added that the WFMH representatives became infamous as the Two Janets and even appeared, headlined as such, on the front page of a national newspaper!

 

An extract from Janet Meagher's report of her visit is printed below.

 

A Snapshot of Some Consumer Matters in Taiwan

The country is beautiful and the people that I encountered in the Mental Health Sector are very friendly and supportive of those concepts that I particularly value, especially regarding innovation, respectful consumer participation and sensitive service provision. On the day before I was to return to Australia, I flew with Chueh Chang to Kaohsiung where we attended a seminar, "Body, Mind and Soul Workshop"  How to fight Cancer and Depression.?   It was an interesting and inspiring experience. I spoke about The journey of hope and recovery through empowerment and partnership and Chueh discussed The importance of hope.  Then we listened to people speaking out for the first time on their illnesses and their recovery journeys, from both perspectives, of having a mental problem and having cancer. Amazingly, the stories were not substantially different. Each person, in his or her own way, was overcome by the impact of the diagnosis; each suffered from the loss of a defined future; from the loss of a useful contribution to their society; and loss of self-image, accompanied by overwhelming grief and depression. Each found in the group some real and substantial under-standing and acceptance that was not forthcoming among friends or family. In the group there was not sympathy but genuine empathy, people giving of themselves, without expecting some-thing in return.

 

As a part of their program group members have developed a form of back massage, because they say people no longer touch them. The process is like this. They massage each other's backs for 10 to15 minutes. This lets them feel more accepted and cared about as human beings. They say that this means a lot to them, being able to help one another in an unobtrusive, undemanding way. The massage is done silently ?there is no obligation to communicate, except through touch. No one wears shoes in the room where they come to meet and that signifies equality. All share in a meal or tea before leaving. Bringing some food to share is the only cost of involvement. All are equal and all need one another. A truly supportive and caring community is what has developed in this small group. It was humbling for me to realize that some people, hearing of my visit, had traveled five or six hours to attend the meeting and to hear about recovery and hope. People are so hungry to hear the things that we are so blas about, to know the simple things that we are often too busy to see and value in our own lives:

 

The comradeship and the ability to organize ourselves in consumer groups

The independence that we have, from family control or professional control or even from legal or pharmaceutical controls

The language of consumerism that weve developed to explain our cause and our situations

The voice and power that we have, even in simple interactions, that doesnt exist in some places even as a dream

The people who honor our experience and our cause and who have facilitated our journeys with respect and support.

 

My lesson from all of these unforgettable experiences is quite simple.

We must be sophisticated when that is necessary; but most of all, we must remain humble enough to see the struggle others are experiencing; simple enough to understand that people need companionship from us; genuine enough to identify and respect the uniqueness of others on the journey.

 

Janet Meagher

(Australia)

WFMH Honorary Secretary

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