Thomas C. Wales, the former assistant U.S. district attorney in Seattle who died in 2001, believed that ordinary citizens taking action can bring about a more livable society based on fairness. The Wales Foundation symposium Friday and Saturday (March 4-5) is the sixth in a series on topics such as civic engagement and participation, the death penalty and due process, and gang violence in the Puget Sound region.
The purpose of this symposium is to address the problem of the stigma associated with mental illness, an attitude that is peculiarly intense across America. Stigma discourages people who are ill from seeking treatment, erects barriers to their housing and jobs, impedes the forming of social relationships, and subtly moves elected officials to put mental-health treatment last on the list of social services deserving public funds and support.
Symposium topics will range from community safety and mental-health education to workplace issues and access to treatment. Sessions will emphasize ways in which community volunteers can fill some of the gaps left by funding cuts, by helping individuals with psychiatric disorders as well as their families get the support they need.
Featured speakers include U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, a physician and a child psychiatrist for 40 years, and nationally known mental-health advocate Jessie Close, sister of actress Glenn Close, who helped found the nonprofit BringChange2Mind in order to change prevailing attitudes about mental illness.
Presenters and panelists include Seattle filmmaker and physician Dr. Delaney Ruston, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, King County mental health director Amnon Shoenfeld, King County Sheriff Sue Rahr, UW psychiatry chairman Dr. Richard Veith, and Seattle Mental Health Chaplain Craig Rennebohm.
If you go: "Fighting Stigma - Finding Solutions," Kane and Mary Gates halls, University of Washington, Friday (March 4), 5-9 p.m., and Saturday (March 5), 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (includes light breakfast). Tickets are sold out, but sign up on the waitlist: it's short, and last-minute cancellations are coming in, sponsors said. Download the full agenda here.