UC Irvine Conference Sets Out to Reclaim Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and there's no better place to get woke on the issue than at UC Irvine this weekend. "Reclaim Mental Health," is an annual conference organized by Associated Students UCI that draws hundreds of students and community members for two days of keynote speakers, workshops and panels. The effort isn't just about exploring the symptoms and treatments of mental illness but takes a larger social look at it all.

"Reclaim Mental Health" draws people from outside OC, but has more than a few workshops run by locals. People who attend the free conference can learn about everything from the psychological impacts of climate change to the challenges Cambodian refugees in Long Beach have in accessing care. The presenters range from students who draw from personal experiences to doctors in the mental health field.

With a White House that doesn't care all that much about the plight of refugees, Dr. Richard Mollica's breakfast keynote brings compassion back to center in kicking off the conference on Saturday. He developed an "H5" model to address the traumas experienced by those living in refugee camps who've fled extreme political violence the world over. Dr. Mollica hopes his model holds lessons for non-refugee populations under their own forms of distress.

The second day of "Reclaim Mental Health" starts with a student keynote by UC Santa Cruz's Julia Dunn on finding recovery through creative writing. Student panels explores healing through storytelling during lunch sessions in aiming to end the stigma around mental health.

Courtney Loi closes out the conference with a talk on feminism, hook-ups and the politics of mental health on Sunday. The activist and artist is also a sexual assault survivor who suffers from depression. Loi encourages women who've endured the same to regain control of their sexuality along the path of healing.

Don't miss out on all the woke conversations, free food and T-shirt giveaways. See you there!

UCI Reclaim Mental Health Conference at UC Irvine's Student Center, 311 W. Peltason Dr., Irvine, asuci.uci.edu/reclaim-mental-health, Sat. & Sun. 8 a.m. - 5:20 p.m.

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