Thursday, November 3, 2011

Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia Conference - Recovery

Today's media advisory from the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia:

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia Conference: Recovery


With its theme of recovery, the 23rd Annual Conference of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia promises to deliver a message of hope. The conference takes place at the Dalhousie University Club, 1 Alumni Crescent, Halifax, from 8:45 am to 4:30 pm on Friday, November 4th, 2011.

Recovery from a mental illness involves progressing from a state of distress arising from active symptoms, through the stages of acceptance, rehabilitation, and reintegration into family, work, and societal roles. “Recovery is not an endpoint, but a process and a state of being,” says Vince Daigle, peer support worker with the Healthy Minds Cooperative. This conference will prove that recovery is not only possible, but expected in most cases.

A variety of experts will present on state-of-the-art approaches to optimizing recovery from serious mental illnesses. Cognitive remediation, psychosocial rehabilitation, psychopharmacology, peer support, supported employment, and a well-designed wellness recovery program will all be featured.

The plenary speaker, Dr. Susan McGurk (pictured) of Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire, will present her recent research results on the Thinking Skills for Work program. This unique program involves combining supported employment with methods to help a person improve cognitive skills through focused practice using computerized cognitive exercises, and to develop cognitive compensatory skills to “work around” persistent difficulties.

“Clients target work as an important recovery goal,” says Dr. McGurk, who also notes that rejoining the workforce is destigmatizing and has many other benefits, including social and financial ones. Building on this theme, Gail Kelly from Connections Halifax, and staff from the Mindful Mango CafĂ©, will describe important advances that have been made locally in supporting people in returning to work.

Dr. David Gardner of Dalhousie University will address medication, “major part of the road to recovery.” Using his unique interactive presentation style, Dr. Gardner will open the floor to questions and use that opportunity to discuss antipsychotic medications and how they can be part of a “set of investments” for recovery.

Healthy, fun, active, and creative – this is how Dr. Zenovia Ursuliak describes the wellness program recently created for participants in the Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program. “This program was very dear to my heart. I put so much energy into this program because I really believe that we can help people reach their full potential by providing environments and services that engage them as human beings, in addition to what I’ve been trained to do as a psychiatrist – give them medications, monitor their medications.” Dr. Ursuliak describes the participants’ regaining of hope, self-efficacy, and motivation as being critical to recovery.

The support of one’s peers and the guidance based on direct experience of a mental illness is invaluable. As Mr. Daigle points out, the role-modelling and insight that a peer support worker provides cannot often be matched by that of a mental health clinician who has no direct experience. A peer support worker’s example contributes hope – both for people challenged with an illness, as well as for their family members.

Healthy relationships are critical to anyone’s mental health, and Dr. Jason Morrison of Dalhousie University will outline how they can be promoted through cognitive behavioural therapy. Additionally, Valerie Davis and Pamela Langille of Kentville’s Beacon Program will present their organization’s multidisciplinary approach to empowering and supporting the development of individuals through psychosocial rehabilitation.

Describing possible outcomes of the conference, Dr. Ursuliak anticipates “that the audience comes out of there inspired that recovery is possible.” She adds, “From that positive attitude, people will advocate for change.”

FOR BROADCAST USE

The Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia is holding its 23rd Annual Conference beginning at 8:45 am on Friday, November 4th, at the Dalhousie University Club, 1 Alumni Crescent, Halifax. The theme of the conference is Recovery.

The objective of the conference is to demonstrate that recovery from a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia is not only possible, but, with treatment and other supports, can be expected. The plenary speaker, Dr. Susan McGurk of Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire, will present her recent research results on the Thinking Skills for Work program. This unique program involves combining supported employment with methods to help a person improve cognitive skills through focused practice using computerized cognitive exercises. Other topics to be covered include peer support, psychosocial rehabilitation, medications, cognitive behavioural therapy, and a wellness program. On-site registrations are available. For further information visit www.ssns-conference.com.

About the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia

The Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia works to improve the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia through education, support programs, influencing public policy, and encouraging research. In addition to the provincial office located in Dartmouth, the Society has chapters conducting monthly support group meetings in Cumberland County, Halifax Regional Municipality, Kings County, and Lunenburg County.

Media Contact


Dr. Stephen Ayer
Executive Director
Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia

Phone: (902) 465-2601
Toll-free in Nova Scotia: 1-800-465-2601
Fax: (902) 465-5479

Room B23, E.C. Purdy Building
300 Pleasant Street
P.O. Box 1004, Station Main
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 3Z9

Website: www.ssns.ca
Weblog: www.blog.ssns.ca


To download a printable version of the media release (PDF), please click here.

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