Individuals Diagnosed with Mental Illnesses to Gather in Orlando for National Conference; Goals Include Organizing to Fight Discrimination and Advocate for Unmet Needs

Sep 22, 2011, 14:33 ET from National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Individuals labeled with mental illnesses from all over the United States, and from abroad, will gather in Orlando to attend Alternatives 2011, a national conference organized by and for individuals with psychiatric disabilities, Oct. 26-30, 2011, at the Caribe Royale Orlando, 8101 World Center Drive, Orlando, FL 32821.

"This is a great opportunity for those of us who are diagnosed with mental illnesses to organize to fight to meet the needs of individuals who have been disenfranchised and marginalized by a society that discriminates against those whom it defines as 'other,' " said Joseph Rogers, executive director, National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse, which is organizing the conference.

The theme is "Coming Home: Creating Our Own Communities of Wellness and Recovery."  "This reflects the desire for community by all individuals with psychiatric histories, including  those whose need for home may be more deeply felt because of their experiences – often traumatizing – in the military, on the streets, or in the criminal justice system," Rogers said.

There will be exciting plenary presentations on Oct. 26 (6:30 p.m.) by Pamela Hyde, administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; David Sofferin, Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Florida Department of Children and Families; and Peter Lehmann, co-founder, European Network of (Ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry; on Oct. 27 (8:30 a.m.) by Kinike Bermudez Thompson, a founding member, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, whose keynote will include audience participation, dance, and the arts; on Oct. 28 (8:30 a.m.) by Timothy Ranney-Blake, who describes himself as "a gay African-American Vietnam-era military veteran," who has been a performance artist; and on Oct. 29 (8:30 a.m.) by some of the nation's leading youth advocates, including personal stories, videos, music and performances.

A Carnival of the Arts (Oct. 26, 1 p.m. -  4 p.m.) will include an Open Mic session led by award-winning performer Mike Skinner. A theater workshop will be taught by Elizabeth Kenney, who will perform her acclaimed one-woman play, "Sick," on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.

Beyond the exchange of knowledge and networking, Alternatives offers a rich social, artistic, and healing environment. When asked "one thing I learned that I will incorporate into my life and/or my work," one earlier Alternatives attendee responded, "We can influence the direction of the future."

For a discounted registration rate, register by Oct. 3, and make your hotel reservations by then too! Any problems? Call Paula at 888-776-1286, ext. 104. To register, go to . And check out Alternatives 2011 on Facebook! Attendees can also get a special after-4-p.m. Disney World rate! See this link: .

The National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse is a consumer-run national technical assistance center funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Contact: Susan Rogers, Clearinghouse,, 267-507-3812

SOURCE National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse