From: "Andrew Phelps <>"


Cc: Friends

Subject: Re: [S-ACC] structural competency event

Sent: Sunday, November 6, 2016 1:50 PM


Sorry, I sent an unfinished draft response.

Abc, Yyy, et al.:

Abc, you have spoken well to the conundrum of "grassroots" activism. We saw that advocacy in San Diego, replete with the capacities and the narrowness you describe. The Structural Competency event presented what people working the "clinical" side of that advocacy dream and do in relation to the "grassroots" that they engage. Thus many (including Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who introduced the keynote speaker) spoke to our concern, that the "mental illness" concept reflects the institutional structural violence that must needs be reworked; however that was not the general advocacy.

Yyy, I'm pleased to say that you did - at last - find the event, and join myself, Delphine, and [two] others who participated. Delphine and I passed flyers about our "Structural Competency" work group - they were well taken yet not focal to the event: see  here. Toward the end, Delphine did speak up and explain the "mental illness" concern, that to engage our oppression was not properly reflected in the manner of speaking of many presenters. And that, I perceive, is the "work problem" we face in that context.

In San Diego we engaged the "ducks in line" concern which stereotypes the behavioral clinicians as people engaged in managing the "ducks." The underlying theme then was that we need to build our capacity in teaching the mental health system how to "behave" in a better way. The Structural Competency event strengthens that advocacy and shows us more about the work that needs to be provided. The actual construction and practice of overcoming the "oppression and reconciliation" paradigm needs to be understood better, then worked more fully.

There are many directions to further the voicing against oppression, one being the Rad-Med work group. My sense is that furthering social accountability in that context will require some serious time and effort. In the mean time, I will reflect upon "teaching the system how to work better." The conference had about 300 attendees - more information about that may be found  here.