2023 Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference

///2023 Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference
2023 Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference 2023-08-29T16:57:47+00:00

Pennsylvania Mental Health & Wellness Conference

NAMI Keystone PA’s 2023 Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference took place on May 22-23 at the Best Western Premier: The Central Hotel and Conference Center in Harrisburg.

The event, Elevating Your Advocacy Voice: Moving the Mental Health Agenda Forward, highlighted the importance of the peer and family voice and the role those voices can play in informing policymakers on the real-life impact legislative decisions have on people’s lives. We also covered how the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is providing Pennsylvania with an opportunity to reexamine the existing crisis care continuum with stakeholder input, including peers, families, advocates, and the

Acting Secretary of the PA Dept. of Human Services, Valerie Arkoosh, MD, MPH, delivered opening remarks. The conference also featured keynote presentations, workshops, resource tables, and networking.

Longtime advocate, Lloyd G. Wertz, MS, was the recipient of the 2023 Carol Caruso Mental Health Advocacy Award. Lloyd is Vice President for Policy and Program Development at the Family Training and Advocacy Center. Lloyd has experience as a family advocate in the community behavioral health system and has worked toward developing a comprehensive set of family inclusion standards in the behavioral health community service setting. Lloyd has also experienced first-hand the trauma of having a family member diagnosed with a serious mental illness and helping him work through the inpatient and outpatient systems in his eventually successful attempts to return to work following each episode of the illness.

Conference Brochure
Conference Photos

Psychologists: 7.5 continuing education hours; UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education credits for psychologists. UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This program is being offered for 7.5 continuing education hours.

Social Workers/Professional Counselors/Marriage & Family Therapists (LSW/LCSW, LPC, LMFT): 7.5 continuing education hours; The indicated number of clock hours of continuing education is provided through Education and Consultative Services of UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital of UPMC’s Office of Educational Resources and Planning, a PA-approved provider of social work continuing education in accordance with all the applicable educational and professional standards of the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapist. This program is being offered for 5 continuing education hours. These clock hours satisfy the requirements for LSW/LCSW, LPC, and LMFT renewal.

Mental Health Professionals: 0.75 CEUs or 7.5 contact hours; Nurses and other health care professionals are awarded 0.75 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). One CEU is equal to 10 contact hours. Nurses: For attending this program you will receive a Certificate of Attendance confirming 7.5 hours of continuing education. These hours may be considered eligible for completing the 30 hours of continuing education required for biannual nursing re-licensure in Pennsylvania.


Conference at a Glance

DAY 1 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION     —     “An Advocate’s Impact:  Using Your Voice to Shape Public Policy”

Joan Erney, JD, Behavioral Health Consultant, Trainer, Facilitator, and Mental Health Advocate

Peer and family advocates have played a significant role in the development of Pennsylvania’s Behavioral Health Care System. From the closing of state hospitals and the creation of Consumer/Family Satisfaction Teams to the launching of the PA Behavioral Health Choices Program, the voices of families have had a pivotal role. Advocates have raised issues, pushed for evidence-based practices, and educated the public about serving and supporting individuals with serious mental illness. Organizations like NAMI, along with others in the advocacy community, have also been critical partners in elevating the voice and providing support to those with lived experience. This keynote presentation will examine the role advocates have and can play in shaping public policy, how everyone can use their personal or professional experience to become an advocate, and why the need for advocacy is more important now than ever.

DAY 1 AFTERNOON PLENARY PANEL DISCUSSION     —     “Building the Crisis Continuum”

Jenna Mehnert Baker

DPA, MSW, CAE, SHRM-CP, Bureau Director for Policy, Planning and Program Development, PA Department of Human Services, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS)

Matthew B. Wintersteen

PhD, Director, David Farber Center for the Advancement of Suicide Prevention Intervention, Research, and Education (ASPIRE); Associate Professor and Director of Research in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Annie Strite

MH.IDD Administrator, Cumberland and Perry Counties’ Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Office

David Measel

Pennsylvania Certified Peer Specialist (CPS), CPS Supervisor, and National Certified Peer Specialist

As we approach one year since the rollout of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, Pennsylvania is still in the process of implementing SAMHSA’s vision for a full continuum of crisis services. Pennsylvania faces significant challenges implementing the dynamic vision for crisis services. New federal guidelines and updated state regulations are prompting counties to evaluate and enhance their existing crisis system, which is a national priority because it will decrease law enforcement engagement and unnecessary jail confinement for individuals living with mental illness.

During this conversation, panelists will provide an update on the implementation of 988 in Pennsylvania and discuss how the Commonwealth, its counties, and key stakeholders are working together to build a robust crisis continuum.


DAY 1 DINNER SPEAKER     —     “Meet & Greet with Jen Smith”

Jen Smith, Deputy Secretary, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

During this dinner presentation, Jen Smith, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will introduce herself to the NAMI community and Pennsylvania mental health advocates and outline the OMHSAS priorities for 2023.

Jennifer (Jen) Smith currently serves as the Deputy Secretary for Pennsylvania’s Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. She took this role in January 2023 and believes her previous experience as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs will prove invaluable as she works with various partners to improve access to and quality of all behavioral health services across the state.

Smith’s achievements in the substance use disorder field are examples of her dedication to ensuring that Pennsylvanians are supported through all phases of their recovery journey. She looks forward to collaborating with individuals, families, and organizations across the behavioral health system to continue improving the health and wellness of Pennsylvanians.


DAY 2 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION     —     “2023 Public Policy Priorities”

Christine Michaels, MSHSA, CEO, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania

Nikki Weigand, MSW, Advocacy Director, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania

As the state NAMI organization in Pennsylvania, one of NAMI Keystone PA’s priorities is to keep affiliates and stakeholders up to date on state and federal legislation affecting mental health. Staff members sit on a number of committees and work groups to stay informed and every month, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania hosts a public policy call to share information on recently proposed bills, budget updates, and advocacy opportunities.

During this presentation, 2023 Public Policy Priorities, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania CEO Christine Michaels and Advocacy Director Nikki Weigand will outline major items that are demanding the attention of advocates, including the 988, federal and state budgets, and the end of the public health emergency. Presenters will provide information and explain how advocates can use their personal experiences and their voices to champion policies that will improve their quality of life.


DAY 2 MORNING PLENARY     —     “Take A Hike! Benefits of Eco-Therapy”

Tracy A Carney, CPS, CPRP, Senior Recovery Specialist, Community Care Behavioral Health

Research shows that spending time outdoors increases attention spans and creative problem-solving skills. Furthermore, studies find that walking in nature can yield measurable mental benefits and may reduce the risk of depression. Given the increase in mental health challenges and physical inactivity in the modern world, interacting in nature settings might be just what the doctor ordered. During this morning plenary, the presenter will highlight eco-therapies and show how attendees can incorporate them into their lives, achieving both physical and mental health benefits.

  • Applied Tabletop Role-Playing Games Change Through Play

  • Caregiver, Put Your M.A.S.K. on First!

  • Response to Persons with Mental Illness: Current Practices and Directions for Law Enforcement Training

  • How Loss of Connection Affects Mental Health

  • Racial Identity Development and Mental Health: AAPI Mental Health and Lessons Learned

  • Understanding Maternal Mental Health

  • Our HAIR (Health Access Initiative for Recovery): An Initiative to Improve Penetration and Engagement of Black and Brown Individuals in Behavioral Health Service

  • From Rock Bottom To Rock Solid: Overcoming Workplace Anxiety and Depression

  • Suicide and Substance Use Disorders

  • The Quiet Hero: Emotional Intelligence (EI) – Concepts Used in Incarcerated-Based Programs

  • Cultivating Self and Emotional Awareness in Order to Promote Mutually Respectful Interactions

  • Talking Recovery in 4 Words or Less

  • The Power of Peers: Starting a Hospital Wellness Program

  • Vaping, Nicotine and Tobacco: What They Don’t Want You to Know

  • Virtual IOP for BIPOC Communities: Using telehealth to overcome common barriers to therapeutic treatment faced by people of color


If you have questions about the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference, contact Sara Levine Steinberg by email at slsteinberg@namikeystonepa.org or by phone at 412-366-3788 (ext. 122)


Prior Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conferences:

2023 Brochure
2021 Brochure
2019 Brochure
2018 Brochure
2017 Brochure