Barbara Swanston (left) and Victoria Broker will be the guest speakers at this month’s Philosopher’s Café and will discuss mental illness in society.

Does mental illness pose a risk to public safety?

This month’s Philospher’s Café in Campbell River discusses the topic of mental illness

In July of 2008, Vince Li beheaded a fellow bus passenger, believing him to be the devil.

He was found not criminally responsible due to schizophrenia, and subsequently hospitalized for treatment. In February he was released.

He will no longer be subject to any conditions or monitoring to ensure he takes his medication.

This is a dramatic example of untreated mental health conditions posing a threat to public safety. Experts have determined Mr. Li (Now known as Will Baker) can function in society with proper treatment, but surely the public will take a long time before they will trust him.

It begs the broader question: Does mental illness pose a risk to the public?

Join this month’s Philosopher’s Café as mental health advocates Victoria Broker and Barbara Swanston lead a discussion on mental health – with a focus on real versus perceived risks to society.

In 2005, Broker experienced an extreme manic episode and a psychotic break.

Since that time she has actively participated in mental health recovery and appreciates any opportunity to speak on the topic.

After the death by suicide of her son, Terry, Swanston has become a Suicide Awareness Advocate.

Her purpose is to raise awareness and help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide. Once a month a speaker will introduce a theme to the Café, and then all who attend can join in respectful, non-partisan conversation, or just sit back and listen.

Participants are welcome to propose topics and introduce them at future Cafés. Themes should be of broad interest and national significance, and have an element of controversy to them.

As with each Café, Broker and Swanston will have just 10 minutes to introduce the topic, and then the floor is open for 50 minutes of moderated discussion.

The session takes place tonight (Wednesday, April 12) from 7 to 8 p.m. at Berwick by the Sea in the Tyee Lounge (take the elevator to the top floor) and is free to attend.

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