I am a Ph.D. Candidate at The University of Texas Medical Branch, and I am currently doing research with Asheville Radical Mental Health Collective (ARMHC), a chapter of The Icarus Project. I am working with both these groups to better understand the scope and activity of Icarus chapters across the nation. As a part of my dissertation project, I would plan to conduct online surveys of local support group coordinators (and follow-up phone interviews), create a research discussion thread on the Icarus Project online forum, and spend time with folks involved with the ARMHC and other local groups.
Specifically, I would like to learn more about the ways members are working individually and collectively to carve out creative spaces for thinking differently about mental health, some strengths and challenges engaging with groups (both on and off-line), and how your chapter discusses alternative ways to understand extreme mental states. I am also particularly interested in the role that technology plays in bringing groups together and providing a forum to express emotions and thoughts with others in your community.
Here is a little bit about me. My background is in social science, and I have a bachelor’s of science in anthropology and sociology, a bachelor’s of science in psychology, and a minor in Medicine & Society from the University of Houston. As a part of my research methods, I plan to produce documentary films about participants’ lived experience of extreme mental states.
Throughout my dissertation research, I plan to conduct community-based participatory research. This method draws from the ideas of social justice and democratic processes in its attempts to negotiate a non-hierarchical space for shared knowledge to emerge; and through extensive dialogue between researchers and participants, it creates a more equitable exchange of information built on mutual respect and trust. To that end, I seek to make my research easily accessible to all participants,and I would greatly appreciate any suggestions you may have on ways to structure this project as it develops.
If you are interested in learning more about this research, I would be happy to keep you updated on the progress of this project and send you links to blog and vlog posts I create during the course of this study (Below is a link to a video where I give a brief overview of this project). Please feel free to ask me any questions or tell me any concerns you may have about the project, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!
The Institute for the Medical Humanities
The University of Texas Medical Branch