Sunday, August 18, 2013

Clearing the Air (In reply to a post) - Mental Health Awareness Retreat

I wanted to take a moment to reply to Raquella Warrhol's post. It seems there is a bit of a confusion and I wanted to clear things up.

First, Mental Health Awareness Retreat is indeed donating money to a shelter. The covenant house in Houston, Texas, Usa. All donations will go there and we will post all of the information in regards to that towards the end of the hunt/events. People will know for sure their money went there without a dime touched. Unlike a fair, neither I nor store owners make a dime. That means that 100% percent of the donations goes to this shelter and only they profit.

I chose to support this shelter because I was homeless in Houston Texas for about 4 months and that shelter helped me through so much. I know for a fact the money is rightfully used. They fed me, gave me soap to bathe, I had a bed to sleep safely at night, I didn't have to worry about abuse as all the staffs were accountable for each other and what they did to us. Heck, one time a lady just raised her voice to us kids and next thing we knew she was not working there anymore.

They also help feed the homeless people around the city who live in the streets and in poor housing areas. For Christmas they gave me a gift card to TJ Max with 150 dollars in it. For someone who is alone with no family and gifts from people who love you, this was the most awesomest thing ever. (yes, I know awesomest is not a real word but I want to use it lol)

There is a lot of things covenant house helped me with and gave me and I promise I will share those things with you in upcoming posts.

Everyone is more than free though to donate to any shelter of their choice. There are other ways to donate as well, which we discuss in the homeless awareness exhibit. You can donate your time to a soup kitchen, shelter or street work such as handing out food and clothes. You can donate supplies needed to a local shelter. And if you see a homeless person out in the streets you can help them too as well by providing them with a meal or a drink.

We now have a homeless awareness exhibit in which we spend days to organize and put together. It holds a lot of resources and information in regards to homelessness and mental health.
Homeless Awareness Exhibit LM

Perhaps people don't see the use of a homeless awareness event in sl just like they don't see the need for any of the other hunts mental health awareness retreat has done. But we have over 700 members in the group who are very active and I think that shows how much needed this group is.

Second life is sometimes the only world people have to live in with their disabilities. In here we can raise awareness, support others in need, and help them find resources in Rl that can make a difference in their Rl life.

Unfortunately mental health has everything to do with homelessness. Off the top of my head I know of 2 people in sl that I don't know in Rl who are homeless right now. 3 people who were homeless and about 3 who are soon to be homeless. A common myth, which we discuss in the exhibition is that homeless people can't possible be in sl because they don't have a computer. The truth is that many can get access to a computer via a library, their friends and families computer and/or they have a laptop before being homeless that they use wherever they can get free wifi.

There are many programs set out to help the "healthy" people but the mentally ill? Do you know of housing for the mentally ill unless you been hospitalize 3 or more times? SSI is hard to get and here is the real dilemma...

You are mentally sick yet you can't get SSI or fundings. If you can't get money then how do you pay rent and bills? o.O You can't work because you are sick. The shelters only cover you for a few months so even if a person who is mentally ill wants to get better the fundings and programs are not installed for a person to get better and be on their own two feet. In conclusion, most mentally ill people who are poor end up in the streets. Don't believe me? Look it up. Unless they have financial help from family and friends and/or finally get SSI.

So yes, this homeless awareness event has everything to do with mental health. With the lack of funding and budgets there is. In fact a great percentage of people who are homeless are mentally ill. You can do the research for your home town as it varies in the amount but you will see that no matter what part of the world is a really good amount of people.

About half the women and children that are homeless are running from domestic violence which cause depression and PTSD in many of them. Again, a simple google research for your home town will guarantee that my answer is very researched based.

Most homeless youth are runaways who left their home due to abuse and sexual rape/molestation. Most of them suffer from traumatic events and use alcohol or drugs to help them get through the hardships mentally. With mental health budget cuts, getting mental health is a huge issue that we should be raising awareness and really voicing about.

The average age of a homeless person is only 9 years old. And within 48 hours, 1 out of 3 teens will be prostituted and/or trafficked. Many of these youth are looking for safety and love because they have been abused in their house. Take a look at this documentary "Very Young Girls" where girls talks about how easily they became a prey when in search of love. As you can see, there is a huge need for counseling and mental health to sort out through traumatic events and help prevent these situations. Another thing I loved about the covenant house is that they didn't judge people by their mental health condition. I had two friends who were bipolar and many who were depressed. Their staff is trained to know that many kids are running from abuse and mental health is something that must be attended as a priority. For adult shelters, can we say the same thing for many of them?

Take a look at how many kids deal with mental health issues while being homeless, before being homelesss and after being homeless. Did you know that many homeless kids will die by committing suicide?

There is many things to talk about that ties mental health into homelessness. It is a taboo topic (mental health) that people would rather not talk about many times but it really needs to be talked about and addressed.

As for the cardboard box being stereotypical, unfortunately it is reality for many  homeless people sleeping in the streets. Many hold up cardboard signs asking for help while others sleep in them. It is why we are doing an event on Sept. 14th with 3 artists, Prowess Rayna, Eio Tuquiri and Twostep Spiritweaver, to raise this awareness.

People may think this world is just a game but in reality we are all human beings behind this game unless your a bot. We look for support, friendship, and some kind of communication. For some with disabilities this is the only world they have for now to live in until they recover.

We have seen the power of unity in second life. Just take a look at Relay for Life who managed to raise more than 2 million lindens. Many of those people walked and raised awareness in Rl as well. To think we can't create a change via the net is absurd. Just take a look at anonymous who gather so many people in their Real Life protest all via the net.

It starts here! the net. Yet we can carry that same spirit and vision on to our real life. Let us join in unity for a cause. Let us raise our voice and create changes, no matter by what means people do it. Harriet Tubman managed to save many slaves through an underground network. She didn't speak up like Martin Luther King but in the end she made a change.

As for the designers, please keep in mind that everyone has the rights to express themselves as they wish. And we value and love their work and their vision. No designers were vulgar. We also do have a myth and facts in our exhibit that explains this myth that you speak about. It reads "Myth: Most homeless people look dirty and smell. Fact: Most homeless people try to keep their appearance, especially the homeless youth." and "Myth: A person dressed up in a suit can't possibly be homeless. Fact: Shelters, charities and other organizations help homeless get cleaned up and get very good looking attires to get jobs. This doesn't mean they are no longer homeless."

I apologize if there was any confusion with our mission and we encourage you to im us in the near future and let us know your opinion, ideas, and how we can better our future events to help serve in resources, support and peer help.

We have already received countless of ims letting us know how the hunt has helped them or they are feeling less alone because they are seeing people addressing a cause so dear to them.

For anyone out there, please feel free to im me, Joshuan Banx if you need specific resources in your country and/or city.

Happy Healing,
Joshuan Banx


  1. I visited the Covenant House website, and I can see that they do good work, but you should probably be clear on the fact that it's a Christian religious institution.

  2. You bring up a good point Shmoo. I will be posting the information in regards to this shelter (Covenant House, Houston, Texas, USA)soon.

  3. Sometimes it's unclear as to how things are interrelated, but there's a definite correlation between the issues of homelessness and mental health. The hunt and this post do a great job in highlighting those. Thanks for sharing.