An Atheist Social Worker Puts Together a Mental Health Forum

Spencer Troxell is an atheist social worker at a homeless shelter in Ohio and he’s put together a mental health forum for victims of mental illness and their families. It takes place this October and I’m thrilled to promote it:

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • scinquiry

    Can’t we just say, a social worker, who happens to be an atheist?  

  • Psyguy

    “Victims” of mental illness? Sufferers perhaps, but I think use of the term “victim” ended long ago and for good reason.

  • Alex

    Great initiative! One thing though, “Please RSVP” is redundant, like “ATM machine”. RSVP stands for repondez s’il vous plait, “respond please.”

  • Psyguy

    Oh dear. I see now 3 of us have been picking apart the details Hemant. Sorry about that. I should also have added that it is a great initiative. In my 20+ years in practice as a Clinical Psychologist I was constantly reminded of the need for communities to support our family members, friends, neighbours, and other community members who were experiencing a mental illness (either first hand or otherwise). Great to see an initiative where that help comes without the unnecessary baggage of religious beliefs being “shared”.

  • splodie

    I have to agree that the word “victim” is unfortunate. No one gets a grip on their mental illness until they stop the victim mentality.

  • wmdkitty

    Seconded. We’re not “victims”, we just have illnesses.

  • Rachelannmiller

    Or an atheist who happens to be a social worker? I don’t see the problem. I’m an atheist. I’m a social worker. They’re both important parts of who I am. I don’t see why one part should get more emphasis than any other part.

  • Miriam Mogilevsky

    Are you saying that people who are suffering from mental illness are to blame because they see themselves as “victims”? I really hope that’s not what you’re saying.

  • splodie

    Ummmm….no. I did not blame anyone for anything. What I am saying – as someone with Bipolar Disorder I and multiple addictions – is that no one gains control of their life for as long as they believe they are a victim. Nowhere in that comment did I address or imply blame. However, if one believes one is a victim one cedes control to the person or situation that is perceived to be victimizing. I am not a “victim” of Bipolar Disorder. It is simply the hand I was dealt. Since I am capable of taking steps to control it I do so. My sister is schizophrenic. She is not capable of taking control herself so it is done for her. She is not a “victim” either, though. We were both raised that despite our illnesses we were responsible for our lives.

  • smrnda

    I probably wouldn’t have chosen ‘victim’ but I have schizo-affective disorder and I wouldn’t call myself a ‘sufferer’ either because it’s all been managed pretty well the last few years. My own lack of distaste for ‘victim’ is just that it means ‘this happened and it wasn’t my fault.’ If I made some bad choices and then experienced an obvious consequence then I wouldn’t be a ‘victim’ but to me, it’s more about the fact that I’m not responsible for what I have. I don’t think that looking at myself as a ‘victim’ meant that I was helpless, it just meant that there was something outside of my control that was going to make my life difficult and that, though managed well today, might get out of hand in the future.

    I’ve never liked the ‘don’t think of yourself as a victim’ since, to me, it’s like saying ‘pretend like it’s all about you taking control’ or some other platitude. Yeah, I tried that for years and it didn’t work and it wasn’t owing to any lack of effort on my part or ‘victim mentality’ but on the fact that I wasn’t on meds that were doing me any good. Sometimes you can’t win no matter how hard you try.