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Mental Health for All Virtual Conference: Deconstructing Normal

It’s been in Montreal. And in Toronto. And now it’s wherever you are. And on whatever screen.

Now in its sixth year, the Mental Health for All (MH4A) Conference is the largest mental health gathering of its kind in Canada. And it’s coming to you virtually for two days in the fall. October 19 + 20.

The theme of this year’s MH4A Conference is Deconstructing Normal.

Maybe you’d take normal any day over what we’re living now. Maybe you’re a little antsy for it. Maybe you even long for it. Because you’re not alone if you’ve yearned for it this year. A return to normal life.

But what if normal is a problem? A really big problem?

This past year and a bit we’ve come face-to-face with inequities and injustices that pre-date the pandemic but have become more apparent since. These include systemic racism, housing, food and employment insecurity, and an inadequate mental healthcare system. Before COVID-19, maybe “normal” hid the cracks that people fall through. Brutal and dehumanizing, maybe racism seemed “normal,” as did poverty. When it comes to mental health care, it was pretty “normal” to be waiting. Wasn’t all of that just very, very normal?

Normal is absolutely everywhere. We apply the judgments “normal” and “abnormal” to our own – and others’ – thoughts and behaviours. We may not always notice, but what is and isn’t normal permeates our lives, our social, political and medical institutions, and our views on mental health.

Now’s our chance to reimagine what we mean by normal.

There are powerful critiques of normalcy – or normality as it’s also called – and how it has marginalized people with mental illnesses, and people generally. These challenges have come from mental health professionals, researchers, scholars and people with lived experience of mental illnesses. And they have come from thinkers and activists in Indigenous, Black, people of Colour, disability, feminist and LGBTQ2S+ communities.

When it comes to how we live our lives, maybe “normal” – a seemingly innocuous 6-letter word – is just a box we’re in. The MH4A virtual conference is our chance to take a long, hard look at normal. To step out of the box. Turn it inside out. Break it down and take it apart.

Now in its sixth year, the Mental Health For All (MH4A) Conference has become the largest mental health gathering of its kind in Canada. This year MH4A will bring together mental health practitioners and clinicians, program and service providers, people with lived experience, researchers, historians, activists, policymakers, and political leaders – all in the collaborative project of deconstructing normal.

The 2021 MH4A Virtual Conference takes place anywhere you are. Now for the second year, it will be a virtual live event, also offered on demand for a full year.

Registration is now open, and early registration – and pricing – ends August 27.

For more information, visit www.conference.cmha.ca or reach out to the conference team at [email protected].