Special Sessions

All times reflect Eastern Time Zone


Fireside Chat with Michelle Williams

Tuesday, July 27, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET
Michelle Williams, Grammy Award-winning singer and former Destiny’s Child member and author of Checking In: How Getting Real about Depression Saved My Life — and Can Save Yours, will speak candidly about her mental health journey alongside Dr. Christine M. Crawford, NAMI’s Associate Medical Director. For years, Williams was in one of the top-selling female groups of all time, all the while struggling with depression, which finally began turning around in her 30s when she found the right support system and treatments. She will discuss the lessons she learned about prioritizing her own wellness, normalizing mental health conversations and how she hopes to help others. She has dedicated herself to increasing awareness of mental health and empowering people to recognize when it is time to seek help, support and guidance.

Michelle Williams, Author, Singer and Songwriter, Los Angeles, Calif.

Christine M. Crawford
, M.D., MPH, Associate Medical Director, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

Special Panel Discussion

At the Intersection of Race, Identity and Mental Health: What’s Next? with Dr. Erlanger Turner, Dr. Jacque Gray, Dr. Christina Hong Huber, Dr. Alfonso Mercado and Dr. Valerie Williams-James

Tuesday, July 27, 1:25 – 2:25 p.m. ET
This past year has revealed how systemic racism and racial injustice have impacted diverse communities. Thought leaders and mental health experts who identify as Native American, African-American, Hispanic/Latinx and Asian-American will discuss how COVID-19 and systemic oppression have negatively affected the mental health and well-being among BIPOC communities from a data driven and intersectional perspective. The panel will highlight areas of need to transform the mental health system to address mental health disparities.

Jacque Gray, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D.
Christina Hong Huber, PsyD, BCB, M.A., Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Compassionate Integrative Therapy, LLC, Arlington, Va.
Alfonso Mercado, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas
Erlanger (Earl) Turner, Ph.D., Executive Director/Psychologist, Therapy for Black Kids, Los Angeles, Calif.

Valerie Williams-James
, Ed.D., Organizational Leadership, President and CEO, VisionSpot Consulting Group, LLC, Mobile, Ala.

NAMI Candlelight Vigil

Tuesday, July 27, 4:55 – 5:05 p.m. ET
The NAMI Service Members, Veterans and Their Families Council will hold a Candlelight Vigil to highlight, honor and pay respect to the many lives lost to suicide, including those who were active duty, reserve or guard members, veterans, family members and dependents, as well as non-federally-activated reserve or guard members. We invite everyone to attend to take part in this virtual ceremony, which will display lit candles during a moment of silence so participants can feel connected as if we were all here together. We also encourage people to light a candle at home in support.

Sponsored by NAMI Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families Council

Research Plenary

Challenges and Opportunities in Mental Health Research

Wednesday, July 28, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET
Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, will provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities in mental health research. Dr. Gordon will present emerging approaches and technologies, including the five-year Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) Schizophrenia research project, which launched in September 2020. In this era of unprecedented opportunity, he will highlight the importance of cross-disciplinary, integrative approaches to address the vast complexities associated with mental illness as we move closer to our goal of finding effective treatments and therapies.

Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institute of Mental Health, North Bethesda, Md.

Ken Duckworth
, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

Well Beings/Youth Mental Health Project

Learn more about Well Beings, a multi-platform public media campaign created by WETA, the PBS flagship station in Washington, DC, and the Youth Mental Health Project, during Tuesday’s NAMICon welcome and see a first clip from the documentary “Hiding In Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness (working title),” slated for 2022, with a special message from executive producer Ken Burns. NAMI is a proud sponsor of this national initiative that also includes a 34-city national engagement campaign with PBS stations around the country, sponsors, NAMI Affiliates and community partners.

Tuesday, July 27, 7:30 – 9 p.m. ET
Log on to for the 19th “Virtual” Well Beings Tour event, hosted by San Francisco PBS station, KQED. Myles Bess from Above the Noise will host a panel of Bay Area youth and their advocates to address “Youth Resilience and Your Mental Health Post-Pandemic.” Dr. Christine M. Crawford, NAMI Associate Medical Director, will be interviewed by a PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs youth journalist.


These 60-minute sessions, which include dedicated Q&A time, highlight mental health research, resources, developments and much more.

Track 1: Amplifying Youth and Young Adult Voices
Track 1 Workshops: Day 1 | Day 2

Track 2: Advancing the Promise of Research
Track 2 Workshops: Day 1 | Day 2

Track 3: Addressing Mental Health Disparities
Track 3 Workshops: Day 1 | Day 2

Track 4: Living Well with a Mental Health Condition
Track 4 Workshops: Day 1 | Day 2

Track 5: Supporting Stronger Communities
Track 5 Workshops: Day 1 | Day 2

Tuesday, July 27

Track 1: Amplifying Youth and Young Adult Voices

Empowering Youth as Advocates of Change in Mental Health Systems

Tuesday, July 27, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
Mentis' Teen Council is an inclusive group of diverse and compassionate youth engaging their peers in ongoing conversations about mental health, working to prevent suicide, connecting young people to a comprehensive network of accessible and affordable mental health services, and creating lasting social impact in the community. Its youth-led Prevention Division places value on connection, community and collaboration with school districts and county agencies focused on supporting mental health and wellness.

Carla Magana, Teen Council President, Mentis, Napa, Calif.
Jeni Olsen, Prevention Director, Mentis, Napa, Calif.
Rob Weiss, MSW, LCSW, Executive Director, Mentis, Napa, Calif.

Lift Your Voice: A Public Speaking Approach to Empowering Young Voices

Tuesday, July 27, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
How can we use public speaking to encourage today's youth to tap into the most powerful gift they possess: their voice? This presentation aims to provide various ways in which we can use "speech" as a means to allow young people to feel heard. Especially in today’s political/social climate, when youths are given the space to use their voices, we can hear about their backgrounds, experiences, insights, perspectives, vulnerabilities, fears and needs.

Kristopher Merceron, Ph.D., Speech Communication & New Student Experience Program Director, Valencia College, North Adams, Mass.

Enhancing College Student Mental Health via an On-Campus Support Group

Tuesday, July 27, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
For the last three years, a local NAMI Affiliate has partnered with a social work professor at Western Kentucky University to offer a free student NAMI Connections mental health support group on campus. This session will explore the structure of the group, the types of issues students bring to the table, the importance of a university/NAMI alliance in reaching students on campus who are struggling with mental health issues, and important lessons gleaned after several years of implementation.

Jay Gabbard, MSW, Ph.D., Professor of Social Work, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Ky.

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Track 2: Advancing the Promise of Research

Psychedelic Therapy Renaissance: A New Frontier in Mental Illness Treatment

Tuesday, July 27, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
The main goal of this talk is to present a brief summary of recent developments in the re-emerging field of the therapeutic use of psychedelic substances (e.g., MDMA and psilocybin) for the treatment of mental illness. Learn about new insights into mental illness and treatments that have emerged from this exciting field, with a focus on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dimitri Perivoliotis, Ph.D., Psychologist & Associate Clinical Professor, VA San Diego Healthcare System & University of California San Diego, San Diego, Calif.

Optimal Treatment of Psychotic Disorders: Clozapine/Engagement/Community

Tuesday, July 27, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
This session will present Team Daniel’s experience and provide a template for others to optimally manage psychotic disorders. Learn the approach of "Engagement, Education, Access, Treatment and Wrap Around Support." The session will emphasize the importance of using the virtual platform Zoom to create a community across the world. It will describe how people can avoid being stymied by HIPAA and use both AOT/LEAP to engage. An optimal clozapine regimen using medication to decrease side effects and enhance benefits as well as psychotherapeutic support complete the treatment paradigm.

Robert Laitman, M.D., President/Doctor, Team Daniel Running for Recovery from Mental Illness, Bedford, N.Y.

Effectiveness of Youth Mental Health Screening in the ED

Tuesday, July 27, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
This session will share effective protocol for youth mental health screening in EDs and offer strategies to overcome technical, workflow and attitudinal barriers. With youth depression and suicide increasing, we must identify populations at risk of mental health concerns. EDs present an ideal setting, delivering nearly half of all U.S. medical care. From early 2017 to March 2020, 4,000+ youth age 12+ were screened. From March–December 2020 alone, a new protocol screened 2,400+ (590 severe depression; 215 contemplating suicide).

Jennifer Cooper, RN and Value Stream Coordinator, Emergency Services, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, Del.
Jessica Williams, MSW, Emergency Department Social Worker, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, Del.

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Track 3: Addressing Mental Health Disparities

Use of Culturally Competent Education to Address Health Disparities

Tuesday, July 27, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
The goal of this session is to help mental health professionals augment their practice by integrating prevention and education to address mental health disparities. Therapists are challenged to expand their practices for community education by partnering with existing infrastructures in affected communities. Respecting cultural traditions and practices will allow therapists to educate a larger audience. Building relationships with community partners allows practitioners to recognize community strengths, support local programs and advance culturally-competent practice.

Yolanda Bogan, Ph.D., Professor and Psychologist, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Fla.

Voices of Hope: Community Conversations in LGBTQ+ and Black Communities

Tuesday, July 27, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
Hear an overview of how one NAMI State Organization developed peer-led online community conversations focused on mental health-related topics affecting their communities, specifically, the Black and LGBTQ+ young adult communities. Learn how to empower volunteer leaders, generate community involvement, highlight local agencies and leaders, and leverage local partnerships to directly address mental health disparities affecting Black and LGBTQ+ young adult communities safely, inclusively and authentically.

Nyemade Boiwu, Volunteer, NAMI Delaware, Newark, Del.
Wesley Ingram, Programs Manager, NAMI Delaware, Newark, Del.
Annie Slease, M.Ed., Director of Advocacy & Education, NAMI Delaware, Wilmington, Del.

Social (In)Justice and Mental Health

Tuesday, July 27, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
The relationship between social injustice and mental health is multi-faceted, complex, and has significant implications — not only for individual clients, but also for society. To understand social justice as it relates to mental health, one must consider the framework of the social determinants of mental health — the conditions into which we are born, grow, live, work and age — as they are most responsible for the health and mental health inequities that exist in society. Certain segments of our population (especially people with serious mental illnesses) disproportionately experience striking inequities and disparities in health outcomes. Furthermore, people who have serious mental illness have an increased vulnerability to the deep-rooted inequities in major systems such as criminal justice, child welfare and healthcare. This presentation will feature an overview and discussion of the co-editors of the book Social (In)Justice and Mental Health.

Ruth S. Shim, M.D., MPH, Luke & Grace Kim Professor in Cultural Psychiatry, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, Calif.
Sarah Y. Vinson, M.D., Ubuntu Mental Health LLC, Psychiatrist, Atlanta, Ga.

Daniel H. Gillison, Jr.
, CEO, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

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Track 4: Living Well with a Mental Health Condition

Engaging the Community through NAMI Family & Friends Seminars

Tuesday, July 27, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
The NAMI Family & Friends seminar informs people who have loved ones with a mental health condition about how they can best support them. It’s also an opportunity to meet other people in similar situations and gain community support.

Suzanne Robinson, MSW, Director, National Education Programs, NAMI, Columbus, Ohio
Kathy Younker, Volunteer, NAMI Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Norman Younker, J.D., Retired Attorney, Salt Lake City, Utah

Dogs That Heal: Using K–9 Partners to De-escalate Emotional Crises

Tuesday, July 27, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
This seminar will review evidence-based crisis intervention program development in law enforcement that assists people living with mental illness and discuss the growing convergence of human and K–9 partnering (Animal-Assisted Therapy or AAT) to create rapid, effective and compassionate strategies for ensuring individual wellness and safety. A mental health consumer, the captain of a local Behavioral Health Intervention Team (B.H.I.T.) and Charlie the K–9 will moderate the group Q&A.

Ricardo Ortiz, Detective, Behavioral Health Intervention Team, Pasco Sheriff’s Office, New Port Richey, Fla.
Toni Roach, MPA, Captain, Behavioral Health Intervention Team, Pasco Sheriff’s Office, New Port Richey, Fla.
Elizabeth Statzer, Director, Vincent House Pasco, Hudson, Fla.

The Mind on the Page: The Awakenings Review

Tuesday, July 27, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
Established in 2000 in cooperation with the University of Chicago, The Awakenings Review has evolved into an entity greater than a literary magazine — it has become a calling by which scores of writers, poets and artists who have a personal relationship to mental illness express the quintessence of their lives with mental illness. Learn how this remarkable publication was founded, how it thrives and how one can start a literary magazine.

Edward Robin Coronel, The Awakenings Review, Wheaton, Ill.
Robert Lundin, Editor, The Awakenings Review, The Awakenings Project, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
Irene O’Neill, Vice President and Artistic Director, The Awakenings Project, West Chicago, Ill.

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Track 5: Supporting Stronger Communities

Bridges to Care: Building Grassroots Community Mental Health Support

Tuesday, July 27, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
This workshop will describe a collaboration between faith communities and mental health groups that 1) provides education about mental illness; 2) instructs how to build a congregational mental health initiative; 3) provides tools to create empathy through companionship training; 4) equips faith communities to use trauma-informed care principles; and 5) supports suicide prevention. The workshop will address creating collaborations that can be sustained; building cohorts around geography; addressing disparities among different populations; and measuring outcomes.

Doug Beach, MS Systems Engineering, Board President, NAMI San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
Veron Blue, Pastor, Executive Administrator and Spiritual Development Director, Family Life International Ministries, San Antonio, Texas
Ann Helmke, M.Div, Faith Liaison for the City of San Antonio’s Department of Human Services, City of San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas

Transgender/Gender Nonbinary Folx: Changing the Conversation Around Suicide

Tuesday, July 27, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
The transgender and gender nonbinary community shows vastly higher rates of suicide risk when compared to the general population. By encouraging protective factors for transgender and gender nonbinary folx, we can contribute to preventing possible suicide attempts. We can also become a protective factor for transgender and gender nonbinary folx. The session will discuss risk factors, protective factors and ways to successfully serve as a protective factor.

Dana Cea, Ph.D., Vice President, C&C Betterworks, P.A., Wilson, N.C.

Help Not Handcuffs: 988 as a Gateway to Transforming Crisis Response

Tuesday, July 27, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
The implementation of 988 provides a unique opportunity to further efforts to divert people with mental illness from the criminal justice system through crisis response. This session will provide an update on NAMI’s federal legislative agenda related to crisis services and highlight promising actions at the state level. Participants will leave this session with a model for effective crisis response in their communities and ideas for how to get involved.

Angela Kimball, National Director, Advocacy & Public Policy, NAMI, Arlington, Va.
Hannah Wesolowski, MPA, Director, Field Advocacy, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

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Wednesday, July 28

Track 1: Amplifying Youth and Young Adult Voices

Using Innovative Methods to Engage Youth and Connect Schools to Services

Wednesday, July 28, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
Stigma, socioeconomic factors and cultural disparities are added challenges for youth seeking mental health treatment. NAMI Southern Arizona is working to build better systems of care by using a text messaging platform that engages and amplifies youth voices and partnering with behavioral health providers to directly connect youth to services. Learn how to use technology to more effectively engage youth as well as to develop relationships that strengthen connections to community resources.

Ariane Davaul, Ending the Silence Program Manager, NAMI Southern Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.
Raquel Goodrich, MPA, Executive, Text, Talk, Act, Tucson, Ariz.
Sara Moody, LMSW, Clinical Director of Care Coordination, Casa de los Niños, Tucson, Ariz.

Young Adults Leading the Way into Prevention and Well-Being

Wednesday, July 28, 1:25 – 2:25 p.m. ET
Substance misuse and mental health issues often present challenges to individuals, along with suicide risk. The voices of young people have been heard loud and clear that these public health issues are greatly impacting their generation. These young adults have expressed a need to be social agents of change on these issues and that they learn best from their own peers. This workshop will explore how to effectively address these issues to promote prevention, recovery and well-being.

Ann Duckless, M.A., Community Educator, NAMI New Hampshire, Concord, N.H.

Empowering Youth by Facilitating Heartfelt Poetry About Personal Trauma

Wednesday, July 28, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
Learn how to engage diverse youth in writing poetry that addresses significant childhood trauma. For more than 25 years, the Pongo Poetry Project has inspired thousands of young people who are incarcerated, homeless or hospitalized. Discover Pongo’s innovative, community-focused approach by reviewing how personal and racial trauma can affect young people; learning the essentials of Pongo’s healing methodology, as supported by multiple studies; and observing and practicing Pongo’s fill-in-the-blank technique in a role play.

Richard Gold, M.A., Founder, Pongo Poetry Project, Seattle, Wash.
Shaun McMichael, Masters of Teaching, Program Manager, Pongo Poetry Project, Seattle, Wash.
Shannon Spurgeon, Pongo Poetry Project, Shoreline, Wash.

It Takes a Village: A Community Call to Action

Wednesday, July 28, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
This interactive session will share stories of positive impact when youth mental health activists work together with community stakeholders to spread mental health awareness, build community and spread hope. The Yellow Tulip Project has more than 150 youth ambassadors across the state who are part of a momentum that is changing the way we talk about mental health by bringing people together through community gardens, hope day events, stigma dialogue and storytelling.

Suzanne Fox, M.A., Executive Director, The Yellow Tulip Project, Portland, Maine
Conrad Gabriel, Director of Public Relations, The Yellow Tulip Project, Portland, Maine
Madeleine Manno, Co-Director of Events, The Yellow Tulip Project, Walpole, Mass.

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Track 2: Advancing the Promise of Research

Innovation in Research and Treatment of Perinatal Depression: Where Are We Now?

Wednesday, July 28, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
Perinatal psychiatric illness (symptom onset during pregnancy or postpartum) occurs in 10–15% of women who give birth and is one of the greatest causes of maternal mortality. This session will discuss the current landscape of perinatal psychiatric illness and review new approaches in screening and treatment, including the role of telepsychiatry and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also cover novel interventions and the first approved FDA medication for postpartum depression.

Samantha Meltzer-Brody, M.D., MPH, Assad Meymandi Distinguished Professor and Chair, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Trauma and Population Health

Wednesday, July 28, 1:25 – 2:25 p.m. ET
This presentation will share the latest findings on trauma and its consequences for mental and physical health from the past three decades of epidemiologic research. It will also include information on the impact of trauma across generations and address what actions we can take for ourselves and in our communities to prevent trauma and its adverse consequences.

Karestan Koenen, Ph.D., Professor, Harvard, Boston, Mass.

Antipsychotic Medications and Metabolic Syndrome

Wednesday, July 28, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
People living with serious mental illnesses have shorter life expectancies. Antipsychotic medications are extremely helpful for the treatment of a variety of symptoms. However, some of these medications may have negative metabolic effects which can impact weight and glucose and lipid metabolism, which increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This session will describe the risks associated with medications as well as what preventions and interventions are available to address metabolic abnormalities.

David Henderson, M.D., Professor and Chair of Psychiatry, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

Digital Outreach for Obtaining Resources & Skills (DOORS)

Wednesday, July 28, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
Digital Outreach for Obtaining Resources & Skills (DOORS) is a psychosocial intervention program that teaches digital literacy. Supported by the Baer Foundation, DOORS offers education, training and resources that enable all people to understand, utilize and benefit from digital technology. This workshop will explore the theory of DOORS, offer hands-on demonstrations of teaching cover advocacy, as well run participants’ own versions of the program locally.

Erica Camacho, M.S., Research Assistant, BIDMC, Boston, Mass.
Keris Myrick, MBA, MS, Co-Director, S2i, Los Angeles, Calif.
John Torous, M.D., Director of Digital Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

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Track 3: Addressing Mental Health Disparities

Anti-Asian Racism and Mental Health

Wednesday, July 28, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, people in the Asian-American community have been the victims of racially-motivated assaults. This session will delve into the history of racism and discrimination toward Asian-Americans and the serious mental health implications on this community. It will also talk about ways to build resiliency and provide support for people who have been more recent targets of racial retaliation.

JR Kuo, M.A., Professional Mental Health Speaker, Coffee With JR, Denver, Colo.

Dismantling OCD Stereotypes: What It Really Is and What You Can Do About It

Wednesday, July 28, 1:25 – 2:25 p.m. ET
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a pervasive mental health condition that is widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed. On average, people with OCD do not receive treatment until 7 to 11 years after first experiencing symptoms, primarily due to lack of information about the condition. This workshop will provide information on how to recognize OCD — focusing on lesser-known presentations, as well as culture-specific symptoms — in order to de-stigmatize OCD, reduce treatment gaps and provide resources on how to seek appropriate treatment.

Laura Smestad, M.A., Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Polaris Family Behavioral Health, Bellevue, Wash.

Mental Illness and the Law in Communities of Color

Wednesday, July 28, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
The primary aim of this workshop is to bring attention to the reality of how prisons have become the "poor man’s mental institutions." It will address the reality of how mass incarceration is the byproduct of systemic racism and class discrimination in the U.S. with emphasis on this phenomenon’s impact on families of color.

Valerie Wise Burrell, MSW, Owner-Private Practice, Valerie D. Wise, LCSW, LCAC, Merrillville, Ind.

Advocating with Black Voices

Wednesday, July 28, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
It is critical for health care professionals to understand the experiences that Black people have had with health care in general — especially within the mental health care system. The goal of this workshop is to provide a comprehensive history about the Black community’s distrust in mental health, mental illness, mental health services, medication and research in order inform mental health professionals with the information needed to engage Black patients and end the stigma of mental illness in the Black community.

Ashley Scott, Mental Health Advocate, Vivid and Vibrant LLC., Chicago, Ill.

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Track 4: Living Well with a Mental Health Condition

Cultivating Resiliency and Support for Emerging Adults During the Pandemic

Wednesday, July 28, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
This session will share the new research that reveals “Emerging Adulthood” as a new life stage, and the pandemic’s impact on individuals within this life stage. As emerging adults themselves workshop facilitators will share various coping skills specific to this generation, highlighting support groups as a main tool for wellness. Participants will walk away with a toolbox for supporting young adults and a blueprint to starting a peer-led support group in their communities.

Morgan Pfau, Support Group Facilitator, Mental Health Association, Ocean City, N.J.
Bernadette Trendler, Wellness & Recovery Programs Manager, Mental Health Association, Galloway, N.J.

Illness & Identity: Growing Up Brown & Bipolar

Wednesday, July 28, 1:25 – 2:25 p.m. ET
Despite an abundance of literature, it can be difficult for providers and caregivers to truly understand the experience of illness — particularly if there are cultural differences. This presentation will weave together culture, clinical knowledge and lived experience to inform about the best ways to promote compliance, understanding and supportive care. It will also address the paucity of advocacy in the Asian diaspora, directly promoting NAMI’s "Lead the Conversation" initiative.

Sukhmani Bal, MPH, Director of Community Outreach, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Cross Cultural Student Emotional Wellness, Boston, Mass.

Therapeutic Horticulture in a Small Mental Illness Service Campus

Wednesday, July 28, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
Hear how a small mental health service campus, the San Angelo Clubhouse (SACH), was able to plan and implement small therapeutic gardens. All activities were done in partnership with staff and member and client involvement. This session will discuss the positive impact on the physical and emotional wellbeing for members and clients. Through the SACH example, the presenters hope to show that gardening is beneficial for both physical and mental health and to encourage others to consider starting their own therapeutic gardens.

Ruben Gallegos, Member, San Angelo Clubhouse/NAMI Texas of San Angelo, San Angelo, Texas
Ami Mizell-Flint, Director/Affiliate Leader, San Angelo Clubhouse/NAMI Texas of San Angelo, San Angelo, Texas

Practicing Law with a Bipolar I Diagnosis

Wednesday, July 28, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
This presentation will discuss how individuals living with mental illnesses can "get their lives back" after hospitalizations. The presenter will discuss the rules he established with his spouse that were helpful to his recovery, which included regularly attending appointments with mental health professionals, taking prescribed medications, attending school or working toward productive employment, and eliminating alcohol and drug use.

Kenneth D. Lougee, J.D., Attorney, Siegfried and Jensen, Sandy, Utah

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Track 5: Supporting Stronger Communities

Use of Special Courts & The Stepping UP Initiative to Improve the Justice System

Wednesday, July 28, 12:10 – 1:10 p.m. ET
Justice Evelyn Stratton, retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice and Executive Director for The Stepping UP Intiative Ohio, will provide an overiew about The Stepping UP Initiative and how Mental Health Court, Drug Court and Veterans Court can help veterans and people involved in the justice sytem with a mental illness and/or substance use isssue. Attendees will learn about special court dockets, how they can get involved and what resources are available.

Melissa Knopp, J.D., Project Manager, The Stepping UP Initiative Ohio, Columbus, Ohio
Evelyn Stratton, J.D., Executive Director, The Stepping UP Initiative Ohio, Columbus, Ohio

The View from DC: NAMI’s Federal Legislative and Policy Update

Wednesday, July 28, 1:25 – 2:25 p.m. ET
Hear an overview of NAMI’s federal legislative agenda and the status of policy issues before Congress and the Biden Administration that impact people living with mental illness. Hear updates on NAMI’s policy priorities and what NAMI is doing to advocate for people with mental illness at the federal level. This session will share the status of current proposals and ways that NAMI leaders and advocates can get involved.

Jennifer Snow, MPA, Director of Public Policy, NAMI, Arlington, Va.
Andrew Sperling, Director of Legislative Advocacy, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

Respuesta Informada Sobre el Trauma a COVID-19

Wednesday, July 28, 2:40 – 3:40 p.m. ET
Exploraremos los determinantes sociales de la salud y los diferentes impactos provocados por COVID-19, incluida la epidemia de aislamiento, desconexión y aumento de la angustia emocional. Luego, exploraremos el papel del apoyo entre pares y la ayuda mutua para contrarrestar la información errónea sobre vacunas y EPP, explorando la cosmovisión, reconstruyendo comunidades y visualizando una nueva característica.

Informed Response on COVID-19 Trauma (English Translation)
This session will explore the social determinants of health and the different impacts caused by COVID-19, including the epidemic of isolation, disconnection and increased emotional distress. Explore the role of peer support and mutual help in countering misinformation about vaccines and PPE, exploring the worldview, rebuilding communities and envisioning a new characteristic.

Vesper Moore, M.A., Kiva Centers, Worcester, Mass.
Jasmine Quinones, M.A., Kiva Centers, Worcester, Mass.

NAMI Homefront, NAMI Peer-to-Peer, in Partnership with Veteran Service Orgs

Wednesday, July 28, 3:55 – 4:55 p.m. ET
The goal of this presentation is to share a new, best-practice model for supporting veterans and their families by pairing NAMI programs within the community, enhanced by partnership with local Veteran Service Organizations. Information provided will include how-tos, design, insights, lessons-learned and ways to move forward to build enhanced models.

Margaret Bristol, Ed.D., Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Board Member/Veterans Chair, NAMI Syracuse/NAMI NYS, Pennellville, N.Y.
Ann Canastra, M.S., NCC, LMHC, ACS, MSW, LPC, Local Recovery Coordinator, Syracuse VA, Syracuse, N.Y.
Kathleen Hannon, Internal Programs Director, Clear Path for Veterans, Chittenango, N.Y.

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