Community Notebook: Conference to explore mental health stigma

Mental health advocates Elyn Saks, Jeff Bell to speak at 'Our Lives, Our Voices: Overcoming Stigma' event in Menlo Park

Two well-known mental health advocates and individuals with mental illness will speak at a free conference on Saturday, Jan. 24, with the goal of reducing mental health stigma.

The "Our Lives, Our Voices" conference will feature speakers Elyn Saks, mental health expert and University of Southern California law professor who has written and spoken publicly about her own experience living with schizophrenia, and Jeff Bell, a KCBS news anchor and author of "Rewind Replay Repeat: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder."

Saks also founded and serves as executive director of USC's Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy & Ethics, a think tank founded to foster research and policy reform in the area of mental health by studying issues at the intersection of law, mental health and ethics.

There will also be panel discussions by individuals with a mental health condition and their family members.

"Fear of stigma is one of the chief obstacles preventing people from seeking treatment," an event description reads, citing the statistic that three out of four Californians with mental illness are not receiving the services they need. "Stigma is the result of prejudicial attitudes and widely held negative beliefs associated with mental illness. These false beliefs and attitudes cause social, cultural and economic discrimination. This event will demonstrate how personal strength and determination have enabled many mental health consumers and family members to overcome stigma."

The free event is sponsored by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), the Each Mind Matters mental-health movement, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and the Santa Clara Valley Mental Health Department.

It will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church annex building, (behind the Ace Hardware Store on Santa Cruz Avenue) at 700B Santa Cruz Ave. The event includes a light breakfast and lunch.

Registration is limited to 200 people. To register, go to


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Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 15, 2015 at 2:13 pm

If you want to do something for the mental health and well-being of students at Gunn High School, do check out"Save the 2,008"—a grassroots initiative to bring a happier, more forgiving life to the school.

The campaign has been co-founded by sophomore Martha Cabot and former Gunn English teacher Marc Vincenti. Join us to speak at the School Board meeting on Tuesday, January 27th at 6:30 pm.

Ours is a proposal to shrink classes to a friendlier size, moderate the amounts of homework, foster wise decisions about course loads, quiet the all-day distraction of cellphones, slow the bombardment of grade-reports so our kids have room to ride out the ups and downs of teenage life, and end the demoralizing impact of academic fraud—so that the 2,008 students and teachers of Gunn High School can grow, breathe, learn, thrive.

1 person likes this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2015 at 3:56 pm

How many of the recent suicide victims even went to the "wellness" center? Or even saw their guidance counselor regarding mental health issues?

I suspect these programs are doomed to failure because the people who need them don't go. And there isn't enough interactions between teachers and guidance counselors and students for any adult to recognize there are problems.

Seeing a guidance counselor once every year hardly counts as knowledgeable guidance.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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