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

All times reflect Eastern Time Zone

Wednesday, June 15

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

Overcoming Trauma in Troubled Times

11:40 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. ET
Experts will explore mental health in today’s current environment, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial violence, systemic injustice and economic adversity. Speakers will use an intersectional lens — including race, ethnicity, and LGBTQIA and disability status — to unpack the effects of trauma, depression/anxiety/stress and isolation on young people of color.

Speakers: To be announced

Racial Microaggressions in Mental Health Care

2:10 – 3:10 p.m. ET
Addressing racial microaggressions is critical to help those in mental health care become more cognizant of their behavior. The goals of this session will be to inform, educate and provide a deeper understanding of the harmful impact microaggressions have on minority populations. Microaggressions oftentimes go unnoticed due to their subtle nature; thus, increasing awareness on this topic is also an important goal of this workshop.

Simone Watkins, M.Ed., Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Ph.D. Student in Counselor Education and Supervision; LPC, Adler University/Insideout Living, Chicago, Ill.

Only Those with Underlying Health Conditions: COVID-19 and Disability

3:25 – 4:25 p.m. ET
Disability impacts everyone and intersects with all social categorizations. This interconnectedness creates interdependent systems of oppression, prejudice and disadvantage. The pandemic not only compounded these effects, but it also disproportionately impacted the mental health of people living with disabilities, putting them at an increased risk for suicide and suicide ideation. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between mental health, ableist words and actions, the devaluing of human lives, isolation and social stigma.

Sarah Kirwan, MSPA, Founder and CEO, Eye Level Communications, LLC, Santa Maria, Calif.


Track 2: Engaging with Youth and Young Adults


Using Peer Support Networks to Elevate Adolescent Mental Health and Well-Being

11:40 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. ET
This workshop will explore research highlighting the negative impact of COVID and broken social networks on adolescent mental health. Strategies to create peer support networks for teens will be shared, along with several examples of peer support networks created and strengthened through experiences with national and school-based organizations. Strategies to foster diversity, equity and inclusion within peer support networks, which serve to elevate mental health, will also be highlighted.

Kaitlyn Tollefson, Loveland, Colo.
Michelle Tollefson, M.D., FACOG, MSU Denver, Loveland, Colo.

The Power of Peers: Organizing a NAMI on Campus Chapter

2:10 – 3:10 p.m. ET
Learn about the steps to establish a NAMI on Campus group, how to help students organize successful events and how to deal with organizational challenges. We will discuss the importance of being an official campus group and collaborating with local chapters. We will also address the challenges of supporting others through mental health issues and getting fellow students to attend events.

Maria Felix-Ortiz, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas
Pilar Gonzaba, Student, University of the Incarnate Word, Leander, Texas

Mindfulness Mental Health Tools for Young Adults

3:25 – 4:25 p.m. ET
This workshop will focus on ways to teach resilience and build mental health through mindfulness. It will include strategies and research from the University of Southern California’s Introduction to Mindfulness course, as well as a student panel that will speak about mindfulness and mental health tools. Learn how mindfulness can support mental health, explore what it means to include a trauma-sensitive curriculum, and identify and apply practices for awareness and compassion.

Linda Yaron Weston, M.Ed., Lecturer, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif.


Track 3: Exploring Innovations in Mental Health Research and Treatment


Innovative Approach to Strengthening Families of People with Mental Illness

11:40 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. ET
This session will address the impact of mental illness on families and will deliver practical strategies that family members and providers can use to help increase sibling resiliency, decrease trauma and empower caregivers. Through review of an evidence-based and trauma-informed program, Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative, participants will be able to identify common behavioral patterns that exist among siblings and family members, strategies for building resiliency and resources to help strengthen the family unit.

Emily Rubin, MSW, LICSW, Director of Sibling Support and Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, Mass.

What Technology Really Works and How to Make an Informed Decision

2:10 – 3:10 p.m. ET
This workshop will discuss the evidence for digital mental health technologies with a focus on smartphone apps. Presenters will discuss risk, benefits and real-world use cases while offering hands-on information and frameworks that you can use to better evaluate any mental health innovation, ranging from an app in the iTunes store to an enterprise software suite.

Michael Goldstein, Ph.D., Clinical Director, Division of Digital Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass.
John Torous, M.D., Director of Digital Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass.

Clozapine Can Save Lives — Why Is It Still Underutilized 33 Years after FDA Approval?

3:25 – 4:25 p.m. ET
Clozapine is an antipsychotic medication with the potential to dramatically improve the functioning, symptoms and relationships of people living with schizophrenia. The American Psychiatric Association guidelines recommend a trial of clozapine if a person still has symptoms despite two prior trials of other antipsychotic medications. Clozapine is also the only medication approved to reduce the risk of recurrent suicidal behavior for people living with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Although 20–30% of people living with schizophrenia may benefit from a trial, clozapine is highly underutilized in the United States (around 4% currently). This presentation will review the current research on clozapine’s utilization and effectiveness, and it will explore the individual, prescriber and system/administrative barriers to more widespread utilization.

Robert Cotes, M.D., Associate Professor, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga.


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


The NAMI State Organization/Affiliate Relationship — Way Easier Than Thanksgiving Dinner

11:40 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. ET
So many people fear conversation around the Thanksgiving table. Fortunately, with planning, dialogue and shared objectives, the conversation around the affiliate roundtable is far less daunting. In fact, through common ground and collective goals, the relationship between the National State Organization (NSO) and its affiliates can not only be strong, it can also go from good to great! Find out through case studies how one NSO found ways to leverage the strengths of its affiliates into collective good.

Anna Kim, Executive Director, NAMI Boulder County, Boulder, Colo.
Ray Merenstein, MAMC, Executive Director, NAMI Colorado, Denver, Colo.

Building the Movement for Stronger Crisis Services

2:10 – 3:10 p.m. ET
This workshop will focus on how to build broad support to strengthen and expand behavioral health crisis services through effective grassroots and legislative advocacy. The presenters lead the Fund Maryland 988 Campaign, a statewide advocacy effort to secure dedicated funding to support the continuum of behavioral health crisis services in Maryland. They will share strategies for coalition building, how to secure resources to support advocacy and strategies for positioning for positive advocacy outcomes.

Adrienne Breidenstine, MSW, Vice President, Policy & Communications, Behavioral Health System Baltimore, Baltimore, Md.
Glenn E. Schneider, MPH, Chief Program Officer, Horizon Foundation of Howard County, Inc., Columbia, Md.

Practical Tips to Help Organizations Strengthen Their Grant Writing Skills

3:25 – 4:25 p.m. ET
Strengthening an organization’s grant writing skills is a critical component of drawing resources to the organization and building overall organizational capacity. Learn tips on effective grant writing and how to set your organization up for success when it comes to NAMI grant opportunities and beyond. Obtain practical tools, takeaways and templates to use and adapt to your own needs.

Sheel Pandya, J.D., MPH, Director, Field Capacity Building, NAMI, Arlington, Va.
Susan Schaefer, M.S., Nonprofit Management, Principal, Resource Partners, Bethesda, Md.


Track 5: Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response Systems


Realizing the Promise of 988 and Crisis System Transformation: Key Issues

11:40 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. ET
The goal of this session will be to present research and facilitate discussion about key issues that have emerged in our work on 988 and crisis response: 1) the regional variation in what crisis response services are acceptable and feasible, 2) the workforce expansion required to develop skilled responders prepared to work in diverse communities and 3) the need to define and operationalize concerns about “safety” so that calls can be triaged to the appropriate response.

Leah Pope, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Columbia University, Department of Psychiatry, New York, N.Y.
Amy Watson, A.M., Ph.D., Professor, Social Work Department, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wis.

When Crises Collide: Responding to Mental Health Crises in the Time of COVID

2:10 – 3:10 p.m. ET
Unprecedented challenges have faced mental health services during the pandemic. Chatham County, Ga., and Athens-Clarke County, Ga., will share lessons learned while responding to increased requests for services while under COVID protocols and staff shortages. The session will be moderated by a representative of the Bureau of Justice Assistance who will share Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) resources to provide support and, when appropriate, divert people from the criminal justice system.

Laurie Wilburn Bailey, M.Ed., Director of Acute Services, Advantage Behavioral Health Systems, Athens, Ga.
Maria Fryer, M.S., Criminal Justice North Carolina Central University, Policy Advisor, Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, D.C.
Tara Jennings, Strategic Planning Administrator, Chatham County (Government) Board of Commissioners, Savannah, Ga.

Another Piece of the Puzzle: CIT’s Role in 988

3:25 – 4:25 p.m. ET
Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs have long played a role in changing the way communities respond to mental health crisis. With the deployment of 988, there is an even greater opportunity to leverage CIT in communities to support the build out of comprehensive crisis response systems. Learn how CIT complements the efforts to implement 988, benefits and challenges of crisis response models involving law enforcement, and how to utilize 988 to enhance justice diversion efforts.

Chris Roup, Director of Programs, CIT International, Fresno, Calif.
Shannon Scully, MPP, Senior Advisor, Justice and Crisis Response Policy, NAMI, Arlington, Va.


Thursday, June 16


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

Mental Health and Black Men in the NFL: On the Field and Off

12:50 – 1:50 p.m. ET

Join us for an in-depth discussion about mental health within the Black community and with current and former NFL athletes. How they managed their mental health while playing and now that they are off the field. And how they are helping break the mental health stigma that men, and especially Black men, face all too often.


Providing Culturally Relevant and Affirming Care to the LGBTQ+ Community

2:05 – 3:05 p.m. ET
LGBTQ+ affirming care training is necessary for staff working in behavioral health settings, hospitals and social service organizations. LGBTQ+ individuals experience higher rates of mental health challenges and experience troubling encounters with providers who do not fully understand the concerns that stem from being a part of a marginalized community. This workshop will address instances of inadequate care and provide information to fill the gaps in affirming care training.

Steven Haden, MSW, MBA, CEO, Envision:You, Denver, Colo.

Deaf Mental Health: The Barriers to Accessing Support in the Deaf Community

3:20 – 4:20 p.m. ET
This workshop will promote the provision of quality, equitable mental health services accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. Presenters will underscore how the Deaf culture of storytelling encapsulates best practices in specialized care for Deaf people. This session will also address how clinical care can operate synchronously with cultural affirmation in support settings. Participants will be shown how to break down systemic and attitudinal barriers through appropriate recognition of this population as a cultural, linguistic minority group.

Emma Hunt, Executive Director/Founder, Signed By Stories, D.C.
Makoto Ikegami, DSW, LCSW, Team Leader, Signed By Stories, Atlanta, Ga.
Noel King, Mental Health Clinician and Art Therapist, The Learning Center for the Deaf: Walden School, Watertown, Mass.
Melissa Yingst, LMSW, Host/Advocate, MELMIRA, Riverside, Calif.


Track 2: Engaging with Youth and Young Adults


NAMI Ending the Silence: Taking Mental Health Education Virtual

12:50 – 1:50 p.m. ET
Learn about NAMI’s Ending the Silence (ETS) virtual program and preview snippets of the finished product. Hear about how to access this virtual program and how to increase its use in middle and high schools in your communities. Young adults who participated in the creation of ETS virtual will share their experiences on set and in the making of the resource videos.

Nikki Rashes, Senior Manager, Programs & Digital Training Delivery, NAMI, Arlington, Va.
Barb Solish, Director, Youth and Young Adult Initiatives, NAMI, Arlington, Va.
Britt Turpack, Mental Health Advocate, Speaker and Movement Teacher, NAMI Westside LA, Calif.

What I Wish I Could Tell You About the Internet: Young Adult Perspectives

2:05 – 3:05 p.m. ET
The internet and social media have increasingly been cited as contributing factors to the state of youth mental health, yet academic research tends to be years behind the issues young people are currently facing. The presenter will share concerns regarding social media’s impact on mental health that were derived from interviews with teens, alongside commentary informed by her work as a peer counselor, media design student and as a young adult herself.

Pooja Nair, Interaction Designer, Houston, Texas

Self Advocacy within the College, Academic and Workforce Environments

3:20 – 4:20 p.m. ET
In this session, participants will learn to: Explain what supports they need with instructors and Disability Support Services; know when and how much to disclose about a disability; and understand their rights as well as the limits of protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Participants will also learn about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and be advised when to reach out to them.

Jordan Smelley, Mental Health Peer Specialist, Association of Persons Affected by Addiction, Dallas, Texas


Track 3: Exploring Innovations in Mental Health Research and Treatment


Early Intervention Treatment: Limiting Effects of Mental Illnesses

12:50 – 1:50 p.m. ET
This presentation will provide information on the benefits of early intervention treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Participants will benefit from increased general knowledge of the importance of early treatment of mental illness, as well as an introduction to the range of treatment modalities. Goals of the session will include covering timelines of symptom development; methods of interdisciplinary treatments; information about neurocognitive, economic and social benefits of early medication treatment; and early treatment resources.

Tanya Fabian, PharmD, Ph.D., BCPP, Director of Pharmacy; Associate Professor, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Andreea Temelie, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacist – Psychiatry, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Melanie Yabs, PharmD, M.S., Applied Cognition and Neuroscience, Clinical Pharmacist – Psychiatry, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Whole-Person Health in Populations with Serious Mental Illness: Research and Policy Update

2:05 – 3:05 p.m. ET
This session will review the current evidence and emerging trends regarding the epidemiology, treatment interventions, and emerging policies addressing physical health and well-being in populations with serious mental illness.

Benjamin Druss, M.D., MPH, Professor, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.

Finding the Perfect Fit: Matching Genes and Medications

3:20 – 4:20 p.m. ET
A person’s genes may alter how well a medication works or if side effects will occur. Pharmacogenomics involves the use of an individual’s genetic information to guide treatment selection. The Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium have developed prescriber guidelines involving more than a dozen mental health medications, most recently updated in October 2019. By having a better understanding of pharmacogenomics, attendees will have a more informed stance on the utilization of commercially available pharmacogenetic tests.

Jeffrey Bishop, PharmD, M.S., BCPP, FCCP, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, Minneapolis, Minn.


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


JEDI-CLAS 101: Advancing NAMI’s Cultural Competency Journey

12:50 – 1:50 p.m. ET
The purpose of this session will be to introduce the principles of Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (JEDI) and to show how commitment to these principles, coupled with the implementation of the National Culturally & Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards, can help achieve the vision and mission of NAMI in serving all.

Gayle Tang, MSN, Health Equity Consultant, Gayle Tang & Associates, San Francisco, Calif.

The View from D.C.: NAMI’s Federal Legislative and Policy Update

2:05 – 3:05 p.m. ET
This session will provide an overview of NAMI’s federal legislative agenda and the status of policy issues before Congress and the Biden Administration that impact people 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, National Director, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

NAMI Homefront, Peer-to-Peer and Childcare — Wrapping Around the Family; Early Research Findings

3:20 – 4:20 p.m. ET
This session will highlight the model, inform implementation and share how research is supporting this method as new best practice within the field of veteran and family care. The goal is to enhance veteran and family care through the use of NAMI tools, along with community veteran-service organization support, and linking together to provide the very best care, education and support.

Ann Canastra, M.S., NCC, LMHC, ACS, MSW, LPC, Local Recovery Coordinator, NAMI NY, NAMI Syracuse and Syracuse VA, Cicero, N.Y.


Track 5: Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response Systems


Reimagining Crisis: 988 and the Future of Crisis Care in the U.S.

12:50 – 1:50 p.m. ET
SAMSHA’s National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care outline a low barrier, yet sustainable, model for crisis care. The Guidelines focus on crisis call center, crisis mobile teams and facility-based services. Leaders from national exemplar agencies in all three elements and the lead writer for the Guidelines break down what the model is, what the fidelity standards are, and how to create or optimize your current system to meet the models standards.

Jamie Sellar, M.A., Chief Strategy Officer, RI International, Phoenix, Ariz.
Hannah Wesolowski, MPA, Chief Advocacy Officer, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

Peer Support: A Vital Part of Crisis Services

2:05 – 3:05 p.m. ET
Peer support, an evidence-based practice, is an integral part of RI International’s crisis service continuum. Since 2002, RI International has included peer supporters as service providers in crisis stabilization, living room services and crisis respite services. We call this model of combining the best of clinical services with peer support expertise “Fusion.” Fusion is part of the RI Way that include four key principles: Peer Powered, Performance, Engagement and Safety. Peer Support drives recovery focus.

Lisa St. George, MSW, Vice President of Peer Support and Empowerment, RI International, Phoenix, Ariz.

What Is the Cost? Funding 988 and a Crisis Continuum of Care

3:20 – 4:20 p.m. ET
The implementation of 988 brings new opportunities for state and federal investments in mental health crisis care in communities. Learn about new funding sources for 988 and crisis services and how to advocate for these resources in your community. The session will also include information about resources to estimate the cost of your crisis system to help articulate what is needed to policymakers.

Hannah Wesolowski, MPA, Chief Advocacy Officer, NAMI, Arlington, Va.