It’s no secret that there is a desperate shortage of health care professionals who know about ME. Stigma and ignorance of the disease abound in British Columbia, and as a result, patients are suffering without validation, medical guidance, or access to disability income. And that’s why it’s #TimeForUnrest.
First we take Vancouver, then we take BC!
Monday, 30 October, was the launch of our Society’s participation in #TimeForUnrest, a worldwide ME awareness raising campaign devised by the unstoppable Unrest impact team. In collaboration with 2nd year UBC Med students Rachael Houlton and Perneet Sekhon, we held our first screening of Jennifer Brea’s extraordinary feature documentary for UBC Vancouver students from the faculties of Medicine and Nursing.
The screening took place at the UBC Medical Student and Alumni Centre (MSAC) in Vancouver, a large, open space in a lovely building. We provided food and an information table, complete with our new brochures, copies of Myalgic encephalomyelitis: International Consensus Criteria, printouts of the National ME/FM Action Network’s latest newsletter, Special Issue Under-Served and in Great Need, sign up sheets, and our Student Audience Survey. Taking our student volunteers' advice, we provided chocolate rewards for those who handed in completed surveys, and it worked.
Those of us who were watching the film for a second time were still very moved and in awe of Jennifer Brea’s personal and visionary depiction of the ME story. The audience viewing for the first time were clearly learning something new and shocking.
After the screening, we had prepared a Patient Panel Q&A. Many thanks to Society members Juan Garzon, Katrina Evans, Melanie Lehman and Stefan Fedorowich for donating so many spoons to participate. They were generous, open, informed and articulate about their experience with this wretched disease. The audience was very engaged, asking many good questions. If there was any doubt that the panel was immensely valued by the students, it was removed when we read the audience survey responses.
With the success of this first #TimeForUnrest in BC screening, we are fired up for repeat events throughout the province. The program and materials we prepared for Monday’s event can all be packaged up and easily adapted for other screenings. We have a number of students willing to join us, a collaboration that is important for a successful campaign. Students know their people/our audiences, they can use social media and their physical presence on campus and in classes to promote the events, and they have access to campus screening venues. But, most importantly, students bring their passion to help patients, a much needed resource for the ME community to educate the next generation of doctors and health care professionals.
Together we are stronger
Join us in this important campaign to raise awareness of ME among medical and health care students throughout British Columbia. If you live near any major health science student faculties, and have the energy to help, or if you know of any students who would like to get involved, please join our #TimeForUnrest in BC team.
Check on our Facebook page, or sign up for updates on upcoming #TimeForUnrest in BC events.