INTAR Conference, Liverpool 2014: Call for Contributions

The International Network Toward Alternatives and Recovery (INTAR) in partnership with the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, Liverpool Mental Health Consortium and University of Liverpool is pleased to make this preliminary announcement and call for contributions for the INTAR 2014 Conference, to be held in the University of Liverpool on 25th – 27th June 2014.

INTAR gathers survivors, professionals, family members, and advocates from around the world to work together for new practices towards emotional distress and what is often labelled as psychosis. Based on leading research and successful innovations, INTAR believes the over-reliance on diagnosis, hospital and medication fails to respect the dignity and autonomy of the person in crisis. Self-defined recovery must be at the centre of ethical care.

INTAR promotes alternative settings to hospitals and institutions, so that people can find the care, connectedness, respect, and interventions they need and choose to use. We understand ‘madness’ and extreme states of distress from a social, holistic, and humanistic perspective. Our backgrounds range widely – peer/service user/survivor, psychiatry, psychoanalytic training, Eastern meditative disciplines, family advocacy, and academic research. Through this diversity, we are committed to building safe spaces and positive relationships. As an international network, we undertake to document the effectiveness of such alternatives, to refine and expand their use, and to make them more accessible to people who need them.

Psychiatric services increasingly regard madness as biological disorders affecting the individual’s brain. This is despite the absence of scientific evidence for this view, and the accumulation of recent evidence that drug interventions for psychosis are ineffective, lead to poorer long-term outcome, and cause serious harm to physical health.

In addition, biological theories down-play the importance of the many contexts that are central to understanding madness, especially the role of socio-economic adversity, oppression, trauma and abuse that disproportionately affect people who are forced to use mental health services. There are deep concerns that Western disease models imposed through the notion of ‘global mental health’ will stifle creative, community-based responses to distress and madness. These have the potential to benefit us all. New approaches being developed by service users, survivors, experts by experience, carers and others refuse to prioritise biomedical understanding of distress preferring to see it as part of a wider range of responses, including self-help, self-advocacy, social and political activism, spiritual and faith-based approaches. This places choice and diversity at the centre of recovery.

These issues are at the heart of the 2014 Conference, which will take place over 3 days in June 2014 at The University of Liverpool. The key themes are:

  • Social injustice and mental health
  • Securing human rights in psychiatric care
  • Cultural diversity and mental health
  • Creating and developing healing communities
  • Arts and madness

Confirmed plenary speakers include:

  • Prof Isaac Prilleltensky (University of Miami) Mental Health as Social Justice
  • Prof Kate Pickett (University of York) Inequality and Mental Health
  • Marianne Schulze (Human Rights Consultant, Vienna) Human Rights & Mental Health
  • Bhagarvi Davar (Survivor activist, academic India) Gender, Culture & Mental Health
  • Rameri Moukam (Birmingham) Pattigift and Black People’s Recovery
  • William Sax (University of Heidelberg) Recovery as Healing and Ritual
  • Jacqui Dillon (Hearing Voices Network UK) Recovery as Social Action
  • Alison Gilchrist (Independent Community Development Consultant) Community Development  and Mental Health
  • Prof Brendan Stone (University of Sheffield) Recovery and Community Narratives

How to be involved

INTAR prides itself on being inclusive and engaged. We want to hear your ideas for presentations, workshops and performances that relate to the above key themes. We are particularly keen to hear from mental health service survivors, service users and carers. We also welcome contributions from students who are interested in critical perspectives of mainstream approaches to mental health care.

We are particularly keen that people who have never before presented at a conference can participate fully in the proceedings. We hope to encourage and facilitate as many people as possible to be involved in debates, questions and activities. We have therefore organised the conference so that there are different ways for people to contribute:

WORKSHOPS – these sessions will maximise audience participation. Alternatively, they may focus upon key problems, opportunities or challenges relating to the key themes of the event, and attempt to draw out audience contributions to addressing these issues. These sessions will be 60 minutes in length.

SHOWCASES – sessions that present the work of specific service user and carer involvement initiatives within community groups and organisations, health and social care practice, and Higher Education Institutions, health and social care practice and the voluntary sector. The emphasis will be on the practice and experience of user and carer involvement its impact and outcomes. These sessions will be of 60 minutes duration and might involve a number of short stories that offer the experiences of project participants from various perspectives (e.g. users and /or survivors, carers, project workers, researchers, students). Group discussion will be encouraged to explore, with presenters, possible solutions to key problems identified or discussion of strategy. The emphasis will be upon sharing experiences, celebrating innovation and good practice, and learning from each other.

PAPERS – these sessions will typically involve short presentations (20 minutes) with a short time for questions afterwards. These might involve reflections on practice, research studies or biographical accounts. There may also be theoretical papers which present critical thinking in relation to key conference themes.

PERFORMANCES – these sessions will be performances of different forms of creative arts relevant to the conference themes. For example, they might involve short pieces of drama or dance, readings of poetry or prose, music performances, or even stand-up comedy. These will be of 30 minutes duration.

EXHIBITIONS AND STALLS There will also be opportunities for static exhibitions of artwork or creative writing, video instillations etc.  There will be space for a number of stalls for voluntary and community groups, healing communities, co-operatives and social enterprises, and others who are working towards socially and ethically derived practices in relation to emotional distress.

We aim to make the whole conference as interactive as possible and accessible to all participants. Participants are encouraged to present their work and facilitate sessions in plain language.

Please submit your idea for any of the above (this should be no more than 250 words, with reference to which of the key themes your contribution will fit) by email to: or by post to:

The Liverpool Mental Health Consortium, 151 Dale Street, Liverpool, L2 2AH

The deadline for this is:  December 31st 2013

All ideas for contributions will be reviewed by the conference committee, who will aim to respond within 3 weeks of the deadline.

Please see here for more information about INTAR.

We look forward to hearing from you


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