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"Oh, you too? I thought I was the only one!" Daily care practices and mutual support for mental health in the academy

Type: Panel
Theme: Expanding the Community of Geography
Sponsor Groups: Mental Health Affinity Group, Careers and Professional Development
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM (MDT)
Room: Virtual Track 1
Organizers: Christopher Lizotte
Chairs: Christopher Lizotte


Although awareness has grown regarding the prevalence and depth of mental health problems among members of the academic community, there is still work to be done on several fronts. One of these is creating and fostering a culture of mutual care and support among faculty, staff and students in which mental health problems are normalized. This was summed up in AAG President Dave Kaplan's recent newsletter column: "Mental health is complex, and some issues are severe enough that they need to be tackled professionally. But would it not help everybody, those simply stressed and those truly in despair, if they could feel the meaning behind these words? We are here. For you."

This panel is part of a linked series on mental health in the academy along with "Addressing Experiences of Mental Health and Power Structures for Early Stage Geographers", organized by Aida Guhlincozzi and Josh Merced. This panel focuses on practices of care directed towards mental health problems within the greater Geography community. "Care" here is defined broadly: material acts, emotional labor, and spiritual rituals are a few of its possible categories. The relationality and scale of caring practices is likewise open: caring can be a personal endeavor, between persons, or directed at an institution, community, or space. The purpose of this panel is twofold: first, to share caring practices and experiences in service to one another, and also to develop an epistemology of care (Lawson, 2007) with respect to mental health in the context of the academy. This latter point builds upon a long-standing tradition within feminist scholarship of the constitutive power of emotions and affect as productive of knowledge. By sharing with one another, we can aid each other not only in an immediate sense but also by building a collective knowledge of a praxis of mental health care situated in the specific context of the neoliberal, corporatized and inequitable 21st-century university.

Panel participation could be directed towards, but is not limited to, the following topics:

- The decision to disclose one's mental health status to colleagues and/or employer
- Finding community through mental health
- Mental health as experienced through axes of identity
- Strategies of self-care
- Practices of mutual support among colleagues and friends
- Mental health as a basis for solidarity across social categories (e.g. students / faculty)
- (Auto)ethnographic perspectives on mental health care practices
- Struggles to secure access to mental health care
- Experiences of, and resistance to, mental health ableism
- Expanding the view of what is recognized as "mental health"


Type Details Minutes
Introduction Christopher Lizotte University of Helsinki 5
Panelist Laurence Simard-Gagnon 14
Panelist Marcia England Miami University 14
Panelist Alanna Higgins West Virginia University 14
Panelist Eve Vogel University of Massachusetts - Amherst 14

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