Mennonites, Melancholy and Mental Health: an Historical Critique

Mennonite Mental Health PosterLike all social groups, the Mennonites have experienced mental health issues in their history and

Papers of this conference were published in the 2011 issue of the Journal of Mennonite Studies. For further information purchasing the volume, contact the editor, Royden Loewen, at the University of Winnipeg.

Thursday, October 14: 7:00 pm: Opening

Welcome, David Fitzpatrick, Dean of Arts, University of Winnipeg
Introduction: “Presenters, Conference Themes, and Divergent Voices,” Royden Loewen, University of Winnipeg
Invocation, Rev. Pam Driedger, Petitcodiac, NB

7:20-9:00: Melancholia and Mennonites in Literature

Chair: Royden Loewen, University of Winnipeg
Grace Kehler, McMaster University: “Representations of Melancholy and Martyrdom in Canadian Mennonite Literature.”
Brad Born, Bethel College: “When the Bruised Reed Breaks: The Art of Consolation in Four Mennonite Women’s Writing about Familial Mental Illness.”

Friday, October 15: 8:30-9:30 am: Contexts: British Quakers and Western Canada Psychiatrists

Chair: Grace Kehler, McMaster University
Barry Edginton, University of Winnipeg: “The Influence of British Quakers on the Treatment of Mental Illness."
Chris Dooley, York University: “The Shame of the State: From Asylum to Medicare in Western Canada.”

Coffee: 9:30-10:00

Friday, October 15: 10:00-11:45: Mental Illness in Europe: Anabaptist Radicals and ‘Russian’ Mennonites

Chair: Janis Thiessen, University of Winnipeg
William Klassen, Waterloo: “Duke Ferdinand vs Pilgram Marpeck: Lunatics or Preachers of Care.”
Helmut Huebert, Winnipeg: “The Story of Bethania in Russia: A Centennial Celebration.”
Elsie K. Neufeld, Abbotsford: “Madness in my Family’s Journey: Ukraine, Germany and Canada.”

Lunch 11:45-12:45

Friday, October 15: 12:45-2:30: Old Order Groups, Tradition and Mental Health

Chair: Tina Fehr Kehler, MCC Low German Services
Margaret Reimer Loewen, Kitchener ON: “Murder, Suicide and Mental Illness in a Manitoba Mennonite Village, 1902.”
Steve Nolt, Goshen College: “Old Order Mennonite Mental Health Care: A History.”
Judith C. Kulig and Ling Ling Fan, University of Lethbridge: “The Meaning of Suffering and Mental Well-Being among Low German-speaking Mennonites.”

Coffee: 2:30-3:00

Friday, October 15: 3:00-4:00: Russlaender Refugees and the Trauma of War

Chair: Maria Cheung, University of Manitoba
Hans Werner, University of Winnipeg: “Canada’s Expulsion of Mentally Traumatized Russlaender Immigrants.”
Elizabeth Krahn, University of Manitoba: “Lifespan and Intergenerational Effects of Soviet Oppression: An Autoethnography of Mennonite Women and their Adult Children.”

Friday, October 15: 4:00-5:30 The Praxis of the Mennonite Practitioner

Chair: Vonda Plett, CMU
Irma Janzen, past program director, MCC
Randy Goosen, psychiatrist, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Carolyn Epp-Fransen, nurse, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Annie Wenger-Nabigon, psychotherapist, Laurentian University

Dinner Break: 5:30-7:30:

Friday, October 15: 7:30-9:30: Pioneering a Modern Era Mennonite Mental Health Ethos

Chair: John Friesen, CMU
Conrad Stoesz, Mennonite Heritage Centre/Centre for MB Studies: “Canadian Conscientious Objectors and the Mental Hospital, 1939-1945.”
Titus Bender, Eastern Mennonite University: “The Mennonite Mental Health Movement and the Wider Society, 1942-1971.”
Aldred H. Neufeldt, University of Calgary (Toronto): “Mennonite Mental Health Services and an Ethos of Faith, 1947-1978.”

Saturday, October 16: 8:30-10:30: Mental Health and Canadian Churches

Chair: Irma Janzen, Fort Garry EMC Church
Glen Klassen, University of Manitoba and Charles N. Loewen, Winnipeg: “Eden Mental Health and the Evangelical Mennonite Conference.”
Ellen Paulley, University of Winnipeg (student): “Mental Illness in the MB Herald, Canadian Mennonite and Mennonite Mirror.”
Lucille Marr, University of McGill: “The Brethren in Christ and Mental Health.”
Ken Reddig, Eden Mental Health: “Bethesda Mental Hospital and Ontario Churches.”

Coffee 10:30-11:00

Saturday, October 16: 11:00-12:30: Diagnosing the Mennonite Mental Health Patient

Chair: Vonda Plett, CMU
John W. Elias, Saskatoon: “Love and Work: Itinerant Perspectives on the Well-being of Mennonites in the Americas.”
John D. Friesen, UBC, and John Konrad, Abbotsford: “A Biopsychosocial Model of Depression Grounded in Personal Experiences".
Terence Hoorman, University of Winnipeg (student): “‘Mennonite Psychosis’ and Canadian Academia”

Lunch: 12:30-1:30

Saturday, October 16: 1:30-2:30: Children and Mental Health

Chair: Chris Dooley, York University
Erika Dyck, University of Saskatchewan: “Madness, Mennonites and Medicare: An Historical Look at the Mennonite Youth Farm in Rosthern, Saskatchewan.”
Allison Penner Harder, University of Winnipeg (student): “Attitudes to Children and Adults with Disabilities in Southern Manitoba: An Oral History.”

Coffee: 2:30-3:00

Saturday, October 16: 3:00-5:00: Critiquing and Celebrating Eden

Chair: Ken Reddig, Eden Mental Health Care Services
Bernie Loeppky, Eden, first CEO
Eckhard Goerz, Eden, former CEO
Pam Driedger, Eden, former chaplain
James Friesen, Eden, present CEO

The Planning Committee consisted of Chris Dooley, Irma Janzen, Elizabeth Krahn, Royden Loewen, and Ken Reddig