Confronting The Madness
Ep. 20 Luke Jahjefendic Confronts His Five Tours of Afghanistan

Ep. 20 Luke Jahjefendic Confronts His Five Tours of Afghanistan

September 22, 2021

Antifragile is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to suggest that “things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty...Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.

My guest today, Luke Jahjefendic embodies Antifragility.

Born in Bosnia, Luke immigrated to Canada during the midst of the Bosnian War.  Landing in Toronto at age thirteen, Luke joined the Canadian Armed Forces in his early twenties as way to payback the country who he says, “saved his life.”

In total, Luke did five tours of duty and spent over 1200 days serving in Afghanistan -- one of the most of anyone in the Canadian Armed Forces.  During our conversation, we unpacked each tour one by one.

The notion of suffering is woven throughout our conversation. Suffering often carries a negative connotation, but like Taleb, who believes that “complex systems are weakened, even killed, when deprived of stressors”, Luke’s perspective on suffering is worth absorbing.

In many ways, our society is being weakened due to a lack of significant stressors placed on our systems.  I’m referring specifically to those of us who are living “comfortable” lives. 

We often equate comfort with happiness, but, ironically, most people find the opposite is the case. Confronting, and then transcending, suffering is where meaning, purpose, and happiness live. 

During this conversation Luke provides us all a reminder of that.

 

 

 

 

Ep. 19 Dr. Valerie Taylor Confronts redefining the meaning of ”Sh*t for brains”

Ep. 19 Dr. Valerie Taylor Confronts redefining the meaning of ”Sh*t for brains”

September 18, 2021

In this episode I had the great pleasure of speaking with Dr. Valerie Taylor.  Originally hailing from Newfoundland, Valerie is now the Calgary Zone Lead for Addiction and Mental Health with Alberta Health Services as well as the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Calgary.

Her research focuses on working to identify new treatment modalities for those suffering from mental illness.

In 2020, Valerie was named one of Canada’s 100 most powerful women.

Valerie has a keen interest in the area of the brain body interface.  A major focus of her research is the gut brain axis and investigating how manipulation of this system can be used as a potential therapeutic target for new treatments and how psychiatric illness impacts the gut microbiome.

Valerie is currently running the only clinical trial in North America using fecal transplant to target mood disorders (must listen to become a convert), and are running a longitudinal microbiome biobank which contains detailed clinical, fMRI, and biological (feces, urine, blood) data.

Just recently, Valerie announced The Parker Psychedelic Research Chair, the first of its kind in Canada, thanks to a $3M gift by UofC Alumnus Jim Parker.

I'm so impressed by Valerie and the innovation she is driving in Calgary.  I love this episode so much and would be prepared to donate my stool to her research, but the only issue is I wouldn't quality as a "healthy subject.":)

 

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Ep. 18 Dr. David Goldbloom on Urgent Innovations to Improve Mental Health Access & Care

Ep. 18 Dr. David Goldbloom on Urgent Innovations to Improve Mental Health Access & Care

September 7, 2021

In the episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of my favorite people, Dr. David Goldbloom.  David has been a leading mental health advocate long before it was en vogue. 

He is a leading psychiatrist and an Officer of the Order of Canada. He maintains an active clinical and teaching role as a Psychiatrist and Senior Medical Advisor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto – Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world's leading research centres.  David is also a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

In 2007, he was appointed Vice-Chair of the Board of the Mental Health Commission of Canada; he subsequently served as Chair from 2012-2015.

He has authored numerous scientific articles and book chapters and has provided talks and lectures to student, professional and public audiences. He is the co-author of the 2017 best-selling book “How Can I Help? A Week In My Life As a Psychiatrist”.

David and I spent the bulk of our conversation discussing his most recent book “We Can Do Better: Urgent Innovations to Improve Mental Health Access and Care.”

I have been personally involved in Alberta helping launch some of the innovations discussed.  Many of the challenges that I experienced while attempting to encourage these innovations related to significant institutional barriers: bureaucratic stagnation; political indifference; a fragmented array of historical program and services; and, legacy funding programs that no longer meet the needs of health systems, service providers, or, most importantly: the patient.

I agree with David:  We can do better, much better, and that many of the innovations discussed in this episode have promise to Improve Mental Health Access and Care.

In order to unleash these innovations at scale, we require more flexible governmental support, which includes agile funding programs. We also require bold leadership: individuals within and outside the “system”, committed to collaborating fulsomely while also challenging the legacy system that is currently in place.

We can all agree: the status quo will no longer suffice.

 

Ep. 17 Dr. Alina Turner Confronts Impact Through Disruption

Ep. 17 Dr. Alina Turner Confronts Impact Through Disruption

August 19, 2021

Dr. Alina Turner joins me for Episode 17 of Confronting The Madness

Dr. Turner is the co-founder of HelpSeeker Technologies.  HelpSeeker Technologies is a social technology B-Corp founded in Calgary in 2018. 

Helpseeker develops and services a suite of data-driven digital solutions to support social sector decision-makers, service providers, and community members looking for help.

Alina’s background is as a social scientist with a specialization in systems planning and integration, and as a funder and social policy expert. She’s had the opportunity to work in systems change efforts on homelessness and affordable housing, domestic violence, poverty, mental health, and addictions throughout her career.

She is a Fellow at The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, and serves on the Board of Directors for A Way Home Canada and the Alberta Rural Development Rural Advisory Board on housing and homelessness.

We had a wide ranging discussion which mainly centered around the challenges and opportunities surrounding disruption and transformation in the health and social services sectors.

 

Ep. 16 Yalda Kazemi Confronts Postpartum Mental Illness

Ep. 16 Yalda Kazemi Confronts Postpartum Mental Illness

July 20, 2021

My guest today is Yalda Kazemi.  Yalda’s story is powerful, emotional, honest, and raw.  Her courage in sharing her story is admirable. 

I feel obliged to make a content warning to listeners that some of the stories discussed in this episode are raw.

Yalda and I spoke about her journey battling postpartum depression, which eventually lead to postpartum psychosis.

23% of mothers having recently given birth reported feelings consistent with postpartum depression or anxiety.  The incidence of postpartum psychosis is 1-2 per one thousand births or, .001 -.002% likelihood. 10% of mothers who are diagnosed with postpartum psychosis result in either a mother’s suicide or infanticide.

Yalda is a mom, mental health advocate, entrepreneur, and author of a new book entitled Unapologetic Truths: The Realities of Postpartum We Don’t Talk About.  Her personal experience with postpartum mental illness has led her on a mission to be a voice for mothers who suffer in silence; and to raise awareness and break stigmas associated with mental illness.

A powerful conversation, with a powerfully courageous woman.

Ep. 15 Dr. David Clark Confronts Making The Case for Publicly Funded Psychotherapy

Ep. 15 Dr. David Clark Confronts Making The Case for Publicly Funded Psychotherapy

July 8, 2021

My guest for Episode 15 of Confronting The Madness is Dr. David M. Clark.  Dr. Clark is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oxford and a National Clinical Adviser for the United Kingdom’s Department of Health.

Dr. Clark’s research has led to the development of new and effective cognitive therapy programs for panic disorder, social phobia, and post traumatic stress disorders.  Alongside economist Richard Layard, Dr. Clark wrote the book Thrive: How Better Mental Health Care Transforms Lives and Saves Money.

Dr. Clark was instrumental in pioneering the development and implementation of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) program in 2008. IAPT has grown each year since 2008 and now sees over 1 million people each year. 

Dr. Clark has won numerous awards in the UK and the USA. Such recognition includes Lifetime Achievement Awards from the British Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association.

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Ep. 14 Dr. Thomas Insel Confronts People, Place, and Purpose

Ep. 14 Dr. Thomas Insel Confronts People, Place, and Purpose

June 22, 2021

Joining me for Episode 14 is Dr. Thomas Insel, an american psychiatrist and neuroscientist.  Without question Tom is one of the most influential minds as it comes to mental health in the world today. 

 

Tom is currently a co-founder and adviser to Mindstrong -- a company seeking to transform mental health through innovations in virtual care, data measurement, and data science.  Tom has also recently been named the mental health czar for the state of California by Governor Gavin Newsom.

 

From 2002-2015, Dr. Insel served as Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), advising people like President Barack Obama on mental health policy.  The NIMH is the largest research organization in the world specializing in mental illness with a budget of $1.5 billion dollars.

 

After leaving NIMH, Tom moved to the private sector and from 2015-2017 he led the Mental Health Team at Google Life Sciences, now known as Verily.

 

Humble, honest, reflective, entrepreneurial, and aspirational are the words that come to mind after talking with Tom. 

 

I hope you enjoyed our conversation as much as I did.

Ep. 13 Sheepdogs lead singer Ewan Currie Confronting Music and Meaning

Ep. 13 Sheepdogs lead singer Ewan Currie Confronting Music and Meaning

June 15, 2021

In Episode 13, I had the great fortune of reconnecting with an old friend, lead singer Ewan Currie of The Sheepdogs.  The Sheepdogs are a Canadian rock and roll band and first unsigned band to make the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.  Since then, they have gone onto win four Juno Awards along with a number of multi-platinum albums.

They have performed at some of the largest music festivals in the world:  including South by Southwest, Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza — and last but not least, the Grey Cup.

Please forgive us in advance for some of the inside baseball conservations we indulge in.  It was literally our first conversation in 20 years. 

Ewan and the Sheep Doggs have had a quite the ride so far.  It's a testament to their character that through their rise in fame they have stayed humble, driven, and are still in love with making music because they love music; and I think there is great beauty and meaning in that.

I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did

- Mark

Ep. 12 Police Chief Dale Mcfee on recalibrating the social safety net ecosystem

Ep. 12 Police Chief Dale Mcfee on recalibrating the social safety net ecosystem

June 9, 2021

I had the great pleasure of speaking with City of Edmonton Police Chief, Dale McFee. Dale is one of the most transformational, systems oriented thinkers I have had the pleasure to speak with.  He is an authentic and courageous leader, doing the work for the right reasons.  I think we are extremely fortunate to have him as our police chief, especially during these turbulent times.

Dale and I spent a considerable amount of time discussing how to recalibrate the social safety net ecosystem in an integrated, coordinated, collaborative, and sustainable fashion. 

I strongly encourage you all to take a look at the Edmonton Social Impact Audit Report developed by Dr. Alina Turner and her organization HelpSeeker (HelpSeeker.org) if you are interested in exploring the subject further.

I hope you enjoy this discussion.

Ep. 11 MP Matt Jeneroux - Men’s Mental Health

Ep. 11 MP Matt Jeneroux - Men’s Mental Health

June 1, 2021

My guest for Episode #11 is Member of Parliament, Matt Jeneroux.

Matt is the Conservative Member of Parliament representing Edmonton Riverbend, and a former Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly.

In January 2020, Matt was named the Shadow Minister of Health. In this role, Matt worked with Canada’s health stakeholders on pertinent files, including COVID-19.

Currently, Matt is a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. 

Matt is a passionate advocate for mental health initiatives with a particular focus on addressing the stigma of mental health in young men.

Matt and I covered a wide range of topics – politics, men’s mental health, publicly funded psychotherapy, psychedelic medicine as a treatment for mental illness, Covid-19, and for good measure, Universal Basic Income.

I hope you enjoy.

*Please forgive the poor audio on my end for this episode*

 

 

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