Tag Archives: education

Natasha Tracy’s Bipolar Burble: Fantastic Blog

15 Aug

Natasha Tracy is a tech geek turned award-winning mental health writer. Her blog covers a wide variety of issues relating to bipolar disorder including breakthroughs in medical research, navigating the relationship between bipolar disorder and self, and the perennially raging debate of how we define and label mental illness.

Tracy fully endorses the biomedical model: she argues against nonadherence to medication and reports on developments in neuroimaging and gene mapping. Even if you disagree with her on that, I urge you to check out her blog. Her research is thorough, her writing is fresh, and she’s compiled a wealth of online resources about bipolar disorder, including research developments and treatment options. The comment sections are also edifying, in part because she mediates them thoroughly (the tech geek thing probably helps). This is easily one of the best bipolar blogs the Web has to offer.


Free Online Course: “The Social Context of Mental Health”

12 Jun

This is a free, 6-week course offered by the University of Toronto. Register for it here:


From coursera.org:

About the Course

Mental health and mental illness used to be something that people didn’t talk about, but now it seems every time we open a newspaper we are hearing about the importance of mental health, or the consequences of mental illness. At this point in our history we understand mental illness and mental health to be largely influenced by biological factors, specifically, workings of the brain. At the same time, we have always known that social factors play a very strong role in promoting mental health and can make big differences in who gets mentally ill, who gets treated for mental illness, and how people can achieve good quality of life after a mental health diagnosis.

This course is an opportunity to explore how social practices and ideas contribute to the ways in which society, families and individuals are affected by mental health and mental illness. We will look at issues like why some people think mental illness is a myth, how people think about mental health and illness in different cultures, who gets mentally ill and why, how families are affected by mental illness and what interventions are available to treat mental illness and promote mental health.

Course Syllabus

Week One: A brief history of madness
Week Two: What is mental health and what causes mental illness?
Week Three: The social context of diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses
Week Four: Culture, mental health and mental illness
Week Five: Families, caregiving and mental illness
Week Six: Society, communities and mental health

Recommended Background

A basic background in introductory psychology is recommended.

Suggested Readings

Although the class is designed to be self-contained, students wanting to expand their knowledge beyond what we can cover in six weeks can find a much more extensive coverage of this topic in the books listed below. Please note: These books are not required for completion of the course.

Mental Health Social Work Practice in Canada by Cheryl Regehr and Graham D. Glancy, published by Oxford University Press.

Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses by Ian Hacking, published by University Press of Virginia

A Sociology of Mental Health and Illness by Ann Rogers and David Pilgrim, published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson

The Provincial Asylum In Toronto: Reflections on Social and Architectural History edited by Edna Hudson, published by The Toronto Region Architectural Conservancy.

Mental Health, Race and Culture by Suman Fernando, published by Palgrave MacMillan


Course Format

The class will consist of lecture videos, which are between 8 and 12 minutes in length. These contain 1-2 integrated quiz questions per video. There will also be standalone homework assignments that are not part of video lectures, and a final exam.


Will I get a certificate after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a certificate signed by the instructor.

What is the coolest thing I’ll learn if I take this class?

Mental health plays a role in every facet of life and if you know more about it, you can do more to keep yourself and the people you care about mentally healthy.


About the Instructor

Charmaine Williams, University of Toronto

“Free PTSD Webinars Help Families and Friends Cope”

31 Mar
From PilotOnline.com:

“A free webinar is available to military families and friends with information about ‘Family of Heroes,’ an avatar-based resiliency and post-traumatic stress disorder training simulation.

It’s hosted by the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program and the Virginia Department of Health. The Family of Heroes program is free to all vets and their families in Virginia through June 30.

Webinars will be held from noon to 1 p.m. April 9 and 9 to 10 a.m. April 24. Sign up: www. wearevirginiaveterans.org. For information, call: 212-675-9234 or info@kognito.com.”


psycheducation.com–FANTASTIC web resource for bipolar disorder

14 Mar


A progressive psychiatrist at the Cascadia clinic recommended this site to me, and it is marvelous. For all you DSM haters out there, you’ll be pleased to know that a psychiatrist at Harvard developed another diagnostic instrument called the Bipolarity Index. This views affective disorders on a spectrum and uses a self-guided point system to help identify your place on it–a huge improvement over the checklists, black-or-white thinking, and doctor-patient power differential espoused by the DSM.

It’s easy to hate on psychiatry. Every single person I know with mental health issues has at least one horror story about a psychiatrist who messed them up even more through misdiagnosis, over-medicating them, or both. We bipolar folks may have a more antagonistic relationship to psychiatry than others because we are so often misdiagnosed; A survey taken by The Guardian in 2012 found that the average length of time between the onset of bipolar disorder and accurate diagnosis is thirteen years. (It was sixteen for me, and another year after that before a doctor recognized my PTSD.)


However, I am convinced that the author of psycheducation.org, a Doctor Jim Phelps, is one of the good guys. I may be biased because I like his down-to-earth writing style, but beyond that this is an extremely helpful and comprehensive resource. The site is chock full of info about new and emerging research in illness and treatment. It includes tips for non-pharmaceutical treatment methods (hello Omega-3’s!) and Dr. Phelps isn’t shy about sharing his own critiques of mainstream psychiatry. I highly recommend it.

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders

11 Feb

This is a handy resource with articles for quick definition and reference. I especially like that each entry features a recommended reading list of books and articles.


McMan’s Depression and Bipolar Web

3 Feb


This is a fantastic website by an award-winning mental health journalist and author named John McManamy. It’s chock full of articles about mood disorders, focusing on everything from treatment developments within the psychiatric community to personal relationship issues. McManamy has decades of experience writing about mental health issues; he was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was in his 40’s. There are lots of articles about managing one’s recovery holistically, including information on diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, and the latest medical breakthroughs in treatment. You’ll also find an exploration of the human side of mood disorders, with articles on interpersonal issues, self esteem and personal strength, and discussions of trends in mental illness amongst different populations. Simply a wonderful resource for anyone trying to wrap their head around their diagnosis and educate themselves further.

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