Series with Aaron Munro #3: The Art of Respectfully & Creatively Disrupting Mental Health Programs.

About this Session

Aaron Munroe pic copyAfter 17 years working in Vancouver Canada’s Downtown Eastside, Aaron Munro’s highly unique and courageously inventive practice ideas have been studied by mental health systems all over the world and are now being discussed as more humane practices to consider inserting into refugee camps. In our third episode, Aaron guides us through a multitude of relational practices he learned from the homeless people he works with that led him to purposefully challenge and ingeniously disrupt former taken for granted ideas about ‘professional’ relationships with homeless people and managing homeless shelters.

Excerpt from Aaron’s new book Bad Manners (Summer of 2021):

I worked years ago in one project with a lot of folks struggling with what gets called “severe mental health” who were also drug users. One afternoon, one of the men who resided in this hotel came up to me and said, “I’m not feeling great Aaron. I’m feeling really paranoid”. I invited him to let me know more about this paranoid feeling. He replied, “I feel like people are watching me.” This may not seem like the most empathetic response, but I started to laugh and pointed out the many cameras in that hallway. I replied, “They probably are. In fact, there are probably two people in an office watching us right now”. The whole situation suddenly struck me as absolutely absurd and I couldn’t stop laughing. He looked at the cameras and started to laugh too. We sat down together and started to map out all the places where people are watching him on camera where he has to go: the Ministry of Social Assistance Office, every food line, his home, the clinic he attends, where he picks up his medication, his low-income friends’ homes—you get the idea. We talked about whether paranoia might actually not be paranoia and maybe he was actually under constant surveillance by people with more power than he had.


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Comments (1)

  1. VSNT says:

    Absolutely enthralling and wide sweeping discussion on what I felt and experienced as Aaron working closely with the persons who inhabit the shelters alongside the workers he works with to co-create spaces of dignity, caring and mutual respect. This was yet another incredibly creative and imaginative episode. Thanks so much Aaron!


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