2020 Virtual NAMICon Sessions

Track 1: Getting Help Early

Taking NAMI Ending the Silence Statewide

Hear how NAMI South Carolina received various sources of grant funding to develop a strategy and process to take the NAMI Ending the Silence presentation-program statewide. We will discuss staff hiring, strategic planning, budgets, support staff, presentation team members, and policies and procedures for regional leaders. We will also review successes and challenges throughout the planning and implementation process and will include helpful methods for finding presentation team members.


Paige Selking, NAMI Ending the Silence Project Director, NAMI South Carolina, Lexington, S.C.

Judy Rauppius, NAMI Ending the Silence Regional Program Leader, NAMI South Carolina, Rock Hill, S.C.

Amanda Phillips, NAMI Ending the Silence Program Coordinator, NAMI South Carolina, Greenville, S.C.


What Is Behind the Increasing Suicide Rate Among Black Youth?

There has been a recent trend in the growing number of suicides in Black youth and adolescents. Despite making up 15% of the population, Black youth make up 37% of all youth suicides — with the highest affected demographic being young Black males. We will look at and discuss the risk factors that are possibly causing this increase.


Napoleon Higgins, M.D., CEO, Global Health Psychiatry, Houston, Tex.

Ericka Goodwin, M.D., CEO & Founder, Goodwin Medical Associates, LLC, Atlanta, Ga.

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Who Ya Gonna Call? NAMI HelpLines!

No one is prepared for mental illness when it strikes, but having a NAMI HelpLine to call makes a big difference. In this workshop, discover why helplines are special, and learn about a new effort to align helpLines across the NAMI Alliance using cloud-based technologies for sharing resources, training volunteers, data collection and reporting. Together, NAMI HelpLines can offer better help and support to people in need.

Speaker: Dawn Brown, Director, Community Engagement, Information, Support & Education, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

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Aspiring to Conquer Serious Psychiatric Illness: Research Journey to Heal

After 30 years of personal experience with schizophrenia recovery, Brandon Staglin leads a talented team at One Mind, lived-experience-led nonprofit helping people with brain illness and injury to recover, toward a vision of healthy brains for all, including a focus on research to heal serious psychiatric illness. Brandon’s journey inspired him and his team to launch One Mind's ASPIRe (Applications for Serious Psychiatric Illness Recovery) Initiative to enable nationwide access to gold-standard early care and dramatically-enhanced recovery rates for youth experiencing (or at risk for developing) serious psychiatric illness.

Speaker: Brandon Staglin, President, One Mind, Napa, Calif.

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Track 2: Getting the Best Possible Care

Rethinking Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Come discuss why diversity, inclusion and cultural competence are important to NAMI. We'll create shared meaning by discussing selected definitions and emerging issues in the workplace and the NAMI Alliance. How can we address the changing issues of identity, language and demographics? We'll share selected best practices and gather input from participants to inform the deployment of NAMI’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy. Meet key players and learn about the infrastructure and efforts co-created with NAMI's DEI Staff Council and Board Committee.

Speaker: Mónica L. Villalta, M.P.H., National Director of Inclusion & Diversity Officer, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

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Engaging Faith Leaders in Addressing Mental Illness

One in four people struggling with a mental health concern go to their faith leader before they engage with a mental health professional. And when spirituality and religion are incorporated into care, many clients do better. The Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (The Partnership Center) will present on how we are encouraging faith leaders and their communities to address mental illness using education, tools and resources.


Shannon Royce, J.D., Director, HHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, Washington, D.C.

Michael Perron, Minister of Life Recovery, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Tex.

Gabrielle Spatt, Executive Director, The Blue Dove Foundation, Atlanta, Ga.

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Ending Conversion Therapy to Save Young LGBTQ Lives

Research has proven that conversion therapy significantly endangers the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth. Despite these risks, conversion therapy is still practiced by licensed mental health professionals across the country. Learn about the movement to protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of conversion therapy as well as the ways in which mental health advocates can push for anti-conversion therapy protections in their states and cities.

Speaker: Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs, The Trevor Project, Rockville, Md.

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

This session will provide an overview of NAMI's federal legislative agenda and the status of policy issues before Congress and the Trump Administration that impact people affected by mental illness. Hear updates on NAMI's policy priorities and what NAMI is doing to advocate at the federal level. Learn about the status of current proposals and the ways that NAMI leaders and advocates can get involved.


Jennifer Snow, M.P.A., Director of Public Policy, Advocacy & Public Policy, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

Andrew Sperling, J.D., Director of Legislative Affairs, Advocacy & Public Policy, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

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NAMI Homefront: Effective Education for the Families of Veterans

Engaging, educating and supporting families is crucial to the recovery of veterans experiencing posttraumatic stress and other mental health symptoms. Participants in our NAMI Homefront program have been found to experience significant improvement in the areas of empowerment, coping, psychological distress, family functioning, knowledge of caregiving and knowledge of mental illness. Join researchers and program leaders to learn about the in-person and online versions of NAMI Homefront and how to launch the program in your communities.

Moderator: Suzanne Robinson, M.S.W.,Director of National Education Programs, Information, Support & Education, NAMI, Arlington, Va.


Lisa Dixon, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Director BH Svcs and Policy Research & Center for Practice Innovations, Columbus University and NY State Psychiatric Institute, New York, N.Y.

Anita Herron, Manager, National Education Programs, Information, Support & Education, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

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Track 3: Getting Diverted from Justice System Involvement

Crisis Hotlines: The Gateway to Crisis Systems

With discussions around a 9-8-8 national mental health crisis number and the building of local crisis systems, crisis hotlines have become a hot topic in the mental health community. Learn about the Georgia Crisis and Access Line and why it’s becoming nationally recognized. Also learn about the services crisis lines can offer, how they can address a variety of mental health crisis and how they can help minimize the role of law enforcement in a mental health crisis.

Speaker: Sue Ann O'Brien, LPC, M.B.A., Chief Operations Officer, RI International, Phoenix, Ariz.

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Hero Help Addiction and Behavioral Health Assistance

The New Castle County Police Department has combined and expanded two successful programs: Hero Help and the Behavioral Health Team. This newly unified team provides access and outreach in the community to help those in need of addiction and mental health services, as well as case management to promote positive, long-term health outcomes. This team, consisting of police and mental health/medical professionals, proactively engage individuals in crisis and divert them away from incarceration whenever possible.


Colleen Kearns, M.S.W., Officer First Class, New Castle County Police Department Hero Help Addiction and Behavioral Health Unit, New Castle, Del.

Omari George, Officer First Class, New Castle County Police Department Hero Help Addiction and Behavioral Health Unit, New Castle, Del.

Daniel Maas, M.P.H., Hero Help Addiction Coordinator, New Castle County Police Department Hero Help Addiction and Behavioral Health Unit, New Castle, Del.

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Engaging Individuals Who Have Mental Illness in the Stepping Up Initiative

This session will focus on ways that stakeholders can work together to reduce the high numbers of people with mental illness in local criminal justice systems. It will highlight the Stepping Up initiative and how it engages people with lived experience in planning efforts, including forming collaborations and prioritizing policy, practice and funding improvements.


Mark Stovell, M.P.A., Senior Policy Analyst, The Council of State Governments Justice Center, N.Y.

Chris Johnson, M.F.A., Director of Communications, Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Atlanta, Ga.

Kristin Schillig, Court Support Manager, Fulton County Superior Court, Atlanta Ga.


Using CIT Programs to Reduce Stigma and Trauma While Changing Our Communities’ Crisis Response

Is your crisis response system designed to reduce stigma, trauma and police involvement? While many are familiar with the law enforcement training element of the Crisis Intervention Team model, they may not be aware that the model also supports the development of comprehensive mental health crisis services that actually minimize the role of law enforcement. This interactive session will walk you through how this model of mental health/law enforcement/advocacy collaboration can be used to transform crisis response systems.


Amy Watson, Ph.D., President, Board of Directors, CIT International, Brookfield, Utah

Ron Bruno, Executive Director, CIT International, Salt Lake City, Utah

Shannon Scully, M.P.P., Senior Manager, Criminal Justice Policy, Advocacy & Public Policy, NAMI, Arlington, Va.

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Track 4: Research Updates

CBT for Psychosis: Evidence-based Training Program for Family and Caregivers

CBT for psychosis (CBTp), an evidence-based treatment for schizophrenia spectrum disorders, emphasizes the involvement of family members in the treatment course. In addition, best practice dictates that natural supports are engaged in broader team-based care efforts. Unfortunately, these recommendations are poorly aligned with common practice. Psychosis REACH (Recovery by Enabling Adult Careers at Home) is a training for family members in CBTp-informed principles and skills. With philanthropic support, Drs. Doug Turkington (Newcastle University), Kate Hardy (Stanford University), Maria Monroe-DeVita and Sarah Kopelovich (University of Washington) launched Psychosis REACH in the U.S. Roughly 200 family members participated in the May, 2019 training; 30 received intensive training and consultation, and Train the Trainer planning is currently underway with guidance from a local Family and Caregiver Advisory Board. Family members were referred from agencies that comprise Washington State’s CBTp Provider Network, as well as by those without CBTp-trained providers. This presentation will report on the mental health outcomes among trainees up to 4-months post-training, which suggest that the training was helpful in reducing depression, anxiety, caregiver fatigue, and in improving attitudes toward psychosis.

Speaker: Sarah Kopelovich, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.

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The Fusion Model: A Peer-Informed Model for Crisis Support

Accomplishing fusion on Earth has been a holy grail quest for clean bountiful energy. Scientist continue efforts to overcome the barrier of bringing two atoms together on earth. In crisis care, like much of health care in general, we see resistances to merge culture and strategies between biomedical or hospital models and the recovery and peer supports model. We offer the Fusion Model, the transformative model that occurs from successfully integrating peer powered culture and peer support with national best practices in crisis care.

Speaker: Charles Browning, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, RI International, Wilmington, N.C.

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A Novel Approach to Treatment Resistant Depression: Esketamine

This workshop will provide an overview of the novel medication esketamine for treatment resistant depression, providing an overview of the medication, the administration of the medication, criteria for use, and potential adverse effects. Diagnostic criteria for treatment resistant depression will be discussed. The workshop will also review additional indications for the medication. A discussion of a clinic and expectations for use of the medication will also be reviewed. Participants will be encouraged to ask questions regarding the medication. Additionally, other treatment strategies for treatment resistant depression will be reviewed.

Speaker: Megan Ehret, PharmD, BCPP, Associate Professor, University of Maryland, College Park, Md.

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Youth Resilience in Communities of Color, Community Participatory Research

In this workshop, The AAKOMA Project, Inc will present an integrated research symposium highlighting the strengths and contributions of the AAKOMA Project, Inc. and our community and university partners. We present a historical arch of our founding and development along with our data on patient centered outcomes derived from our work in rigorous community based participatory and clinical trials research methods. Our data presentation will include descriptives psychometrics, univariate and, multivariate statistical analyses informed by qualitative data that addresses he resilience of Black youth (and youth of color) along with their families and communities for mental health equity. We will also present findings from our use of media and social media to both inform and promote our work to ensure that accessibility of our research for a broad audience including teens, our population of focus.

Speaker: Alfiee Breland-Noble, Ph.D., MHSc, Director, The AAKOMA Center, Washington, D.C.

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Track 5: Youth Voices

The Importance of Youth Voice: A Panel Discussion

Youth and young adults from diverse backgrounds will answer questions about some of the mental health challenges facing youth today. They will share their stories, experiences and perspectives on what mental health means to them, how to deal with stigma and what resources are available that they find helpful.

Moderator: Sara Karaga, MS, Senior Program Manager, NAMI Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia


Estephania Plascencia, Youth Program Coordinator, NAMI Miami-Dade, Miami, Fla.

Mykah Ellié, Human Rights Campaign, Lead Field Manager & Canvasser, Human Rights Campaign, Norcross, Ga.

Anthony Catlin, Youth Engagement Specialist, DBHDD, Atlanta, Ga.

Charlie Lucas, CIO, Bug and Bee, Cumming, Ga.


NAMI Ending the Silence for Students

This presentation is designed to help educate youth about various mental health conditions. It will include some of the warning signs, facts and statistics, and how they can get help for themselves or a friend. Research has shown that NAMI Ending the Silence for Students is effective in changing middle and high school students’ knowledge and attitudes toward mental health conditions and toward seeking help.


Sierra Cunningham, M.A., Patient Affairs Coordinator, SC Department of Mental Health, Columbia, S.C.

Amanda Phillips, M.A., NAMI South Carolina, Upstate Regional Program Manager, NAMI South Carolina, Greenville, S.C.


Creating Meaningful Connections: Youth Certified Peer Specialists (CPS-Y)

The presenters will discuss the significance of Youth Certified Peer Specialist (CPS-Y), how those training have assisted in communities and what peers have been offering in the state of Georgia. The CPS-Y training instruct individuals with lived experience who can then provide others living with behavioral health conditions the emotional support, knowledge and resources to help them identify meaningful connections and tools that contribute to wellness/resiliency/recovery.


Ana Martinez Gaona, Youth Peer Specialist Coordinator, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, Ga.

Dana McCrary, Parent & Youth Peer Specialist Coordinator, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, Ga.

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Taking Care of Me During COVID-19: A Panel Discussion

Join four young adults as they share how their lives have been affected during COVID-19. They will discuss various ways they have stayed connected to friends and family, what they’re doing to prepare for their return to school, and how their families and communities have been impacted.

Moderator: Veronica Mahathre, M.P.H., State Opioid Response Specialist, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta, Ga.


Eungjae (NJ) Kim, Research Assistant, Georgia Health Policy Center, Atlanta, Ga.

Kathleen (Katie) Donohue, Ending the Silence Presenter, NAMI Greater Orlando, Orlando, Fla.

Hannah Lucas, Co-Founder, Bug and Bee, Cumming, Ga.


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