Express Talks

These pre-recorded, on-demand presentations are less than 10 minutes in length and offer a quick take on a story, case study, idea or technique.

Track 1: Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Mental Health

A Diagnosis Doesn’t Derail Dreams

The information provided in this talk will empower those living with mental health conditions to pursue treatment, despite the stigma often associated with mental illness. The goals of this session will be to assist individuals in getting treatment, to address the stigma and shame associated with mental health diagnoses, and to explore how family support plays a role in recovery.

Venez Blackmon, Milwaukee, Wis.
Joshua Buckhaulter, Milwaukee, Wis.

Living with Chronic Pain: A Discussion Toward Health Equity

Learn about the unique challenges faced by chronic pain sufferers and how these challenges impact mental health. This session will focus on the lived experiences of chronic pain sufferers and clinical implications for practitioners working with chronic pain sufferers within the therapeutic setting. Most importantly, this session will demonstrate how chronic pain is more than just a health issue: It is a social issue and a public health crisis.

Melanie Mason, M.Ed., Ed.S., Mental Health Counselor and Doctoral Candidate, Adler University, Chicago, Ill.


Track 2: Engaging with Youth and Young Adults


Bringing Virtual Suicide Prevention Programming Back to in Person

In 2020, Active Minds transformed its signature suicide prevention education and advocacy event, “Send Silence Packing,” to an immersive, online experience, titled “Behind the Backpacks.” As communities transition to in-person events, “Behind the Backpacks” provides a seamless transition from virtual to in-person programming for suicide prevention education. Participants will leave with strategies for young adult suicide prevention education in both virtual and real0world settings.

Amy Gatto, M.P.H., Senior Manager, Active Minds, D.C.
Hayley Harnicher, Send Silence Packing Tour Manager, Active Minds, D.C.

Mental Health and Foster Care: The Role of Volunteer Mentors

This talk will explore the ways in which long-term, volunteer adult mentors can support youth in foster care as young people navigate healing from trauma, mental health management and independent living skills. The session will address how mentoring programs can foster cultural humility to build more inclusive and equitable programs.

Christina Haines, M.A., Senior Director of Strategy and National Impact, Silver Lining Mentoring, Boston, Mass.

Sharing Your Mental Health Story on Social Media

Are you considering sharing your mental health story on social media? This workshop will walk participants through important questions to ask themselves before sharing their mental health stories online. Additionally, participants will be provided with helpful language, tools and resources to guide them through the self-disclosure process. They will leave this session with helpful language, tools and resources to guide them in their mental health storytelling journey.

Kyle Elliott, MPA, Career Coach,, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Teaching Youth Mental Health: Tips, Tricks and Resources

With the U.S. Surgeon General’s new advisory on the decline of youth mental health in this unprecedented pandemic, it is more important than ever to understand how we can teach our young people key information about mental health. In this presentation, Letters to Strangers, the largest global youth-for-youth mental health nonprofit, brings a panel of lifelong educators (spanning kindergarten to post-doc students) to share our newest (free!) Teachers’ Handbook: Mental Health Curriculum Guide.

Clayton Becker, Chief Learning Officer, Letters to Strangers, Los Angeles, Calif.
Carla Biggs-Bridgman, M.A., Doctoral, Letters to Strangers, Highland, N.Y.
Vatesha Bouler, M.Ed. Letters to Strangers, Laurel, Md.
Diana Chao, Executive Director, Letters to Strangers, Claremont, Calif.
Amy K. Levin, Ph.D., M.A., Independent Scholar, DeKalb, Ill.

Youth Take the Whole Table

In this talk, presenters will share information about a youth-led policy platform. Learn about the process and tenets that youth in Pennsylvania are undertaking and be inspired to begin youth-led work in your own communities and states. This presentation will be recorded by youth participating in the PA Youth Advocacy Network’s Advocacy Series this winter.

Connor Dalgaard, Youth Advocate, PA Youth Advocacy Network, Pittsburgh, Pa. Luna Plaza, Youth Advocate, PA Youth Advocacy Network, Pittsburgh, Pa.


Track 3: Exploring Innovations in Mental Health Research and Treatment — Enhancing Engagement in between Sessions with Therapeutic Exercises

Practicing therapeutic exercises between sessions with a practitioner can promote generalization of skills learned during therapy, facilitate progress monitoring and strengthen clients’ learning. is an innovative, free, HIPAA-compliant, web-based solution to improve engagement in therapeutic exercises during and between therapy sessions. This session will discuss therapist and client goals, address barriers related to high-quality, mental health care, describe features and discuss how therapists can leverage it to improve the quality of care they deliver.

Brian Bunnell, Ph.D., M.S., Assistant Professor, University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.

Empowering Clinicians to Provide Client-Centered Care for Early Psychosis

There is a substantial gap between when individuals first experience psychosis and when they are provided effective treatment, in part due to low provider comfort in providing care to this population. The goal of this session will be to educate mental health care providers about guiding principles of effective treatment for persons experiencing early episode psychosis. This session is designed for individuals living with a mental health condition, their family members and mental health care providers.

Sarah Fischer, Ph.D., Psychology Fellow, Veterans Affairs, Durham, N.C.
Hannah Kanthak, MAOT, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Fellow, Durham VA Health Care System, Durham, N.C.
Jonathan Pena, MSW, Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Social Work Fellow, Durham VA Medical Center, Raleigh, N.C.

How Nature Can Play a Critical Role in Mental Health Treatment

Nature is a safe, effective tool to minimize the effects of anxiety and to boost mood. Learn researched-backed explanations for the link between nature and improved mental health. This talk will outline ways to incorporate nature into both therapy and individuals’ daily routines to ease mental health concerns, using tactics like walk and talk therapy, nature prescriptions, mindfulness and creative arts. Individuals and practitioners can apply these tools as a preventative measure or to enhance current treatment plans.

Sandi Schwartz, M.A., Author/Journalist, Ecohappiness Project, Boca Raton, Fla.

Pulling Back the Curtain on Depression’s Lies

Participants will hear from people living with the daily realities of depression who will convey that the dark thoughts that can feel so damning are actually lies that depression tells people living with the illness. Knowing that what you are feeling are “symptoms” and not “truths” can help challenge those thoughts and feelings versus just accepting them.

Terry McGuire, CPS, Giving Voice to Mental Illness, Inc./AB Korkor Foundation for Mental Health, Mukwonago, Wis.

The Healing Wheels: Group Cycling for Persons with Dissociative Disorders

This session will discuss how practicing the sport of cycling in groups encourages communication between neural pathways and healthy social engagement. The talk will also detail how mental health professionals can encourage group riding as a complement to outpatient therapy for persons with Dissociative Disorders. The presenter will provide real-life examples of cyclists overcoming common struggles in social environments and share scientific data showing cycling can be used by clinicians in conjunction with intensive outpatient programs.

Hannah Bedwell, Richmond, Va.


Track 4: Implementing Best Practices for NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates


New Onset of Mania after Surgical Menopause — A Case Study

Little is understood about the relationship between surgically-induced menopause and bipolar disorder. The goals of this presentation will be to highlight the current gap in research done on this topic and to showcase how one could potentially treat someone with new onset mania after surgical hysterectomy. The information in this talk will provide a practical patient care example and educate participants on an understudied aspect of psychiatric and gynecological care.

Eric Han, Medical Student, UC Irvine School of Medicine, Orange, Calif.
Lily Hui, Medical Student, UC Irvine School of Medicine, Orange, Calif.

Partnering to Create Short Mental Health Videos and Editing for Distribution

Brief videos on mental illness/mental health can be easily produced and edited at low cost. View a five- minute video that has been produced, edited and distributed to community Facebook/other networks for free viewing. Learn about inexpensive tools necessary for production and how to partner with a mental health provider to get various mental health scripts written by qualified personnel. Finally, learn the steps in order to produce videos for distribution.

Ron Stone, Esteemed Loyal Knight, Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge 1738, Pelham, Ala.

Virtual Geography of NAMI Affiliates for Improving Collaboration

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, our affiliate worked with NAMI Orange County in California to adapt our in-person courses and train our course facilitators to a virtually-enabled setting. Affiliate meetings can now be attended without the limits of geographic boundaries and the costs of lodging and airfare. The presentation will illustrate the possibilities of working together as a more allied collection of state and national affiliates.

Aaron Drake, MBA, Board Member, NAMI Louisville, Louisville, Ky.


Track 5: Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response Systems


Improving Acute Behavioral Health Access and Response Time

This session will demonstrate how technology can be used to improve mental health care in emergency departments by greatly reducing wait times for psychiatric consults from more than 24 hours to just 40 minutes. Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital will discuss how its telepsychiatry program has not only achieved this reduced time to care, but also decreased inappropriate discharges and admissions and reduced turnover among staff psychiatrists.

Cecelia Stalnaker-Cauwenberghs, LMHC, Administrator of Behavioral Health Center, Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, Vero Beach, Fla.

Preparing for A Crisis: 988 and Other Resources for You and Your Family

When a crisis hits, what resources are available to help? The implementation of 988 could create new opportunities for where to turn in a crisis. Learn about 988, the new nationwide number for suicide and other mental health crises. Also find out if the new number will change crisis response in your community, and how you could be directed to resources that can help you plan ahead, including incorporating the 988 system into an existing crisis plan.

Teri Brister, Ph.D., LPC, Chief Program Officer, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

Sharing Stories to Shape Our Future and Create 988 in New York

NAMI-NYS believes our members’ stories are our most effective advocacy tool. This session will explain how NAMI-NYS interweaves our education and advocacy efforts with emphasizing the importance of members’ stories and incorporating their stories in our advocacy, including our efforts to implement and fund 988 in New York state. The goal of the session will be to provide information on how to use the stories of NAMI members to strengthen advocacy efforts.

Matthew Shapiro, Director, Public Affairs, NAMI-NYS, Albany, N.Y.