In a small town in the heart of the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Wales, UK, an event was held that had a transformative affect on many attendees. For a town that usually struggles to attract more than a dozen people to similar public events, we had an astounding attendance of thirty five to forty.
CRAZYWISE made by US Human Rights Photographer and Filmmaker Phil Borges and his colleague Kevin Tomlinson, explores alternative spiritual routes of healing, giving a fresh perspective to an age old issue in a modern world. It documents the journey of two individuals, Adam and Ekhaya through their severe mental illness crisis, showing interviews with their family and friends, as well as commentary from Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Spiritual and Buddhists Teachers and others.
We attracted a 50/50 mix of Mental Health Staff, Volunteers and clients using those services. It was sadly, marked by an absence of Doctors and Psychiatrists, the very people whose attention is needed. This was expressed during the discussion phase following the viewing. “Where were the psychiatrists? Where were the Doctors? Where were key management from Mental Health Providers?” We had one manager from our local Mental Health Hospital who attended the film but not the discussions.
The “Open Space” discussions following the film, was as fruitful for the participants as the film. In fact I was told “conversations were being held across toilet cubicles” and some said “This could have been a 2 day event.”
The event was successful, validating, and transformative for those attending and was summed up by a comment from a member of a local Mental Health Charity,
“I have been to many mental health conferences and this is the first event I have had the opportunity to talk about my own distress in a safe accepting environment.” She added “I cannot find anyone to talk to in my work place.”
In the final Plenary it was agreed to take 3 initiatives forward.
- To seek ways to show the film to Senior Medical Mental Health Practitioners through conferences and seminars to raise awareness.
- The question of the power imbalances between those suffering mental distress and their Medical Practitioners and how to empower individuals to question their Doctors/Psychiatrist and other mental health support workers when necessary.
- Question a lack of safe houses, guidance and programmes for those wishing to come off medications.
We need to see more of these initiatives to raise awareness of the often very real connections between Mental Crisis, Spiritual Awakenings and Shamanic Initiations. They are happening across the globe and will only increase until we finally get the recognition needed from Mental Health Diagnosticians and professional treatment providers.