Over this last weekend, I had the opportunity to address the Rocky Mountain Rebellion Convention in Salt Lake City. The theme of the event was “Rebelling Against Shame”. Below is the content of that speech, as well as some additional information.
[Full Text of Speech]
I joined the kink community on July 16, 2006. In the years since, I have lost track of the many parties, classes and social events that I have attended, but I do know that this is my 26th conference. In that time, many dates stand out, but few more than an evening in November of 2013 when I received a call telling me that a friend in the community had committed suicide.
Across the US, in any given year, 1 in 4 adults will struggle with a mental health problem, but because of stigma, lack of availability, and other factors, only a small percentage will seek help. The good news is research tells us that the prevalence of these issues in the kink community are lower than the general public. However, when people in the kink community do face a mental health challenge, they are far less likely to seek help, largely because they do not believe that their lifestyle will be understood or respected.
In culturally isolated communities like ours, SHAME LITERALLY TAKES LIVES.
That’s why I wear a pin on my vest for suicide awareness and prevention. It’s why our organization in Colorado is working with the NCSF and supporting their Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) list, and it’s why I have spent a huge amount of my time for the last year working to train individuals within the community to recognize the signs of a mental health problem or crisis and offer appropriate assistance. Because in a community like ours, no one should ever have to make or receive that phone call.
The National Behavioral Healthcare Council has set the goal of reaching one million people trained in Mental Health First Aid by the year 2020. I am personally working to see that at least one thousand of those are people within the kink community.
You can help by going to MentalHealthFirstAid.org and finding a class near you. If there isn’t a class near you, CALL ME and I will come and facilitate one.
For everyone who has been lost and for everyone who can still be helped, please do your part.
The other States in the Rocky Mountain region (Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana) currently do not have a dedicated site for information on local classes. If you live in those states, or any other in the country, you can visit the national website so search for a class near you.
I am a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor. I am authorized to provide this training anywhere in the United States. If you would like to organize a MHFA training for your area, please feel free to contact me.
Thank you to all who approached me after the speech offering resources, connections and assistance. I hope to be in contact with you all soon. If you don’t hear from me, please reach out to me.