Conference: Social inequity and social justice

The Department of Child Welfare and Social Work, UiT Norway's Arctic University is organizing a conference in Tromsø on 24 and 25 August 2023.

These are the key notes August 24th 2023: 

Addressing status quo based on discrimination and coercion in global mental health: obstacles and opportunities for the change (professor Dainius Pūras, Vilnius University, Lithuania): 

Dainius Puras.
Dainius Pūras. Foto: private

There is an emerging consensus globally about the importance of mental health and the need to invest more in mental health services. However, there remain serious disagreements among stakeholders and experts about how to invest and how not to invest.

Overuse of biomedical model, power imbalances and biased use of knowledge are among main obstacles that hinder mainstreaming of human rights-based innovations in mental health policies and services.

Opportunities on global, regional and national levels will be discussed, with regard to strengthening concerted efforts of stakeholders that support the need for change.  Human rights based approach should prevail and fully embrace mental health policies and services.

Dainius Pūras is professor of child psychiatry and public mental health at Vilnius University, Lithuania. Since 2018 he is director of the Human rights monitoring institute – NGO based in Lithuania. Among positions he was holding, he was President of Lithuanian Psychiatric Association, Dean of Medical Faculty of Vilnius University, President of Baltic Association for Rehabilitation. During the years 2007-2011 Dainius Pūras was a member of the UN Committee on the rights of the child.  During the years 2014 – 2020 he was serving as a UN Special Rapporteur on the right to physical and mental health.

Prof. Pūras has been actively involved in national and international activities in the field of developing and implementing evidence-based and human rights-based health-related policies and services, with special focus on children, persons with mental health conditions and other groups in vulnerable situations and issues related to promotion of mental health and prevention of all forms of violence.  His main interest is management of change in the field of health-related services regionally and globally, with main focus on operationalization of human rights-based approach through effective policies and services.

On being included: People with lived experience (ass. professor Jijian Voronka, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada):

Jijian Voronka.
Jijian Voronka. Foto: private

Including people with lived experience of mental health issues as peer workers in research and service support systems is now common practice. This talk will explore the possibilities, conditions, and limits of working within mental health systems from the perspectives of those being included. Specifically, I will explore tensions of identity performance, labour expectations, and storytelling in peer work, and consider whether inclusion into systems that are unjust can produce social justice.

Dr. Jijian Voronka is Associate Professor and current program coordinator for the Disability Studies Program at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Her teaching uses Critical Disability Studies perspectives to elucidate confluences of power that affect disabled people in everyday, community, and institutional life. Her research uses Mad Studies and survivor research methodologies to explore disability inclusion strategies and their consequences, the politics of peer work, narrating madness, and sites of public confinement for street-involved communities. Her work prioritizes mental health service user knowledge production through service user-led, community-based, discursive, and narrative inquiry.

What does it mean to feel you matter? (Professor Tony Ghaye, Loubourough University, Professor II UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Department of Child Welfare and Social Work): 

Tony Ghaye.
Tony Ghaye. Foto: private

Mattering is a basic human need and right. It is often experienced as feeling valued and adding value. Arguably it's an individual's feeling that they count, are significant in some way and can make a difference to the lives of others.  Of course not everyone feels they matter and the physical and psycho-social consequences of this can be serious. Feeling valued refers to experiences such as recognition, respect, inclusion and affirmation; while adding value means making a contribution to other's lives, organizations and communities.  Feeling valued and adding value work synergistically to help us answer the question, 'what does it mean to feel you matter? Those who feel valued, appreciated and secure are more likely to make contributions, whereas making contributions increases opportunities for feeling valued. This talk will report the results of a large global survey about mattering, how it is associated with the notion of having and being a secure-base and the crucial role kindness plays as a catalyst for feeling you matter. Implications for leadership in human service work and the need to create places and spaces where everyone feels they matter, will be suggested. 

Professor (Dr.) Tony Ghaye is a community-based activist and an advocate for sustainable action for positive social change. He works inside communities and from the lived experiences of those he works with. He also has a foot in the 'university academy' which offers him a different platform from which to try to build better lives and livelihoods for the underserved, marginalized and silenced, mainly in East Africa. Ghaye is also a Professor II at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Department of Child Welfare and Social Work He has written 16 academic books and 143 scientific papers, plus taught in some of the world's leading innovative universities, all of which reflect his twin interests of strengthening people, families and communities through (a) the new psychology of mattering (b) the research on kindness. He is a positive psychologist who focuses on what we can do to enable people to have what they want more of in their lives, rather than less of and on what people can do, rather than what they can't do! 

There is a need of a revolution in the mental health field (professor Bengt Karlsson, University of South-Eastern Norway, Professor II UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Department of Child Welfare and Social Work): 

Bengt Karlsson.
Bengt Karlsson. Foto: private

The psychiatric knowledge-hegemony has for long been revealed as inappropriate with its biomedical and individualistic approaches. Over years violations of human rights, social injustice, marginalization, and stigma have been documented for citizens experiencing mental health issues. Recovery and Open Dialogue rest in human rights, dialogical, relational, collaborative and contextual practices. How can Relational Recovery (RR) offer a framework and facilitate focus on citizenship, human rights and freedom. RR was developed as a protest against individualistic and acontextual understandings of persons with lived experiences. A social network perspective, tolerance of uncertainty and dialogism in RR is described practices that may inspirer and facilitate a radical transformation of the mental health services.

Bengt Karlsson, professor in Mental health care at the University of South-Eastern Norway and a Professor II at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Department of Child Welfare and Social Work. Karlsson is trained as psychiatric nurse and as a family therapist. He has have been working mental health in different contexts and areas of practice, research, teaching and publication. His interests are within (mental) health and poverty, social inequality, marginalizing, citizenship and human rights. 

Collaborative research as democratic knowledge development (professor Rita Sørly, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Department of Child Welfare and Social Work): 

Rita Sørly.
Rita Sørly. Foto: private

This presentation is an autoethnographic journey of a qualitative exercise in collaborative research with a group of refugee women in a study about participants with mental health challenges in the Introduction programme. Different user groups and professions often have different understandings, experiences and expectations of what user involvement is. This also applies within research. Collaborative research means that experience and knowledge from users, patients, relatives and professionals are given a greater place in the development of knowledge. This democratization of research can be demanding and requires us as researchers to give participants space and freedom to shape, develop and change the work while working together towards a goal.

Dr Rita Sørly, Professor in Social Work, Department of Child Welfare and Social Work, UiT The Arctic university of Norway. Family and network therapist, has been working in different mental health contexts. Research interests are collaborative research in mental health and substance abuse, mental health among youth, substance abuse research, mental health care in Sapmi, user involvement, participatory action research, social work research, narrative theory, and methods. Leader of network for collaborative research in mental health and substance abuse in Northern Norway.

Starts: 24.08.23 at 09.00
Ends: 25.08.23 at 16.00
Where: UiT Norges arktiske universitet
Location / Campus: Tromsø
Target group: Employees, Students, Guests, Invited
Responsible: Karine Nigar Aarskog
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