Opening Keynote
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Opening Keynote: Sean Astin - Live Streamed / Recorded

The 2023 Conference on Mental Health will feature keynote speaker Sean Astin. Astin is a vocal advocate for mental health awareness, bi-polar disorder, civic engagement, and other issues. He is an energetic and passionate speaker who promotes a culture of volunteerism to all audiences. Sean Astin is an American film actor, director, voice artist and producer, best known for his film roles as Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, the title character of Rudy, and Bob Newby in Netflix’s hit series, Stranger Things 2. He is also the author of the New York Times best-selling There and Back Again, a memoir – co-written with Joe Layden – of his film career with emphasis on his experiences with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Morning Concurrent Sessions 1
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

(ETHICAL CREDIT) Indigenous and Culturally Based Healing Practices - Live Streamed / Recorded

Ethical dilemmas that arise when evidence-based practices vs. Indigenous and culturally-based healing practices are used for suicide prevention, depression treatment, substance use disorders and domestic violence. Indigenous healers in many cultures have long been recognized for their traditional knowledge and practices in managing trauma, mood disorders, and pain along with promoting holistic well-being. These healers, who often hold deep cultural and spiritual connections to their communities, offer alternative approaches to mental health management that consider the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of an individual. While indigenous healing practices vary across different cultures and regions, healthcare providers can resolve ethical dilemmas and make space for involving indigenous healers and practices along with evidence-based practices. These methods are often intertwined with spiritual beliefs and ceremonies, recognizing the interconnectedness of the individual with nature, cultural strengths and the spiritual realm. However, these approaches have not been broadly realized in Western health systems that privilege biomedical approaches and Western knowledge paradigms and models. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations support the availability of traditional health practices. The WHO provides a definition of traditional medicine, including indigenous healing practices, which is: "The sum total of the knowledge, skill, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness." Furthermore, the rights to traditional health practices are declared in Article 24 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Plenary Session
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Plenary Speaker: Dr. Nadine Burke Harris - Live Streamed / Recorded

During her keynote address, Dr. Burke Harris will share her groundbreaking research on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the long-term effects of childhood adversities. She will discuss how ACEs can lead to toxic stress, which can disrupt brain development and increase the risk of chronic diseases later in life. Dr. Burke Harris will also highlight the importance of early intervention and trauma-informed care in mitigating the impact of ACEs. In addition to her research, Dr. Burke Harris is a passionate advocate for children's health and well-being. She has been a vocal proponent of policies and programs that prioritize the needs of children and families, including the creation of a California Health Task Force led by Dr. Burke Harris herself. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.

Lunch, Exhibit Fair, & Student Poster Presentations
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions 1
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Grief Literacy - Live Streamed / Recorded

Grief Literacy is a goal within the larger compassionate communities movement. Recognizing that our society is fragmented, and the varying norms and traditions to support one another in times of suffering are unclear, increasing grief knowledge would equip both the public and professionals to identify grief and suffering more readily and to activate appropriate supports to be proactive in avoiding complications from the grief and suffering such as isolation and suicide-risk. In addition to formal care offered by grief counselors, mental health clinicians and palliative and hospice care professionals, the Grief Literacy Movement seeks to equip all citizens to support one another in times of loss, suffering and bereavement. In this session, we will provide a framework for creating and sustaining compassionate communities across multiple social and community settings that enhance supportive care and contribute to mitigating risk of suicide.

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions 2
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

Understanding Trauma and Suicide Among First Responders: Navigating Challenges and Promoting Resilience - Live Streamed / Recorded

The primary goal of this presentation is to raise awareness about the prevalence and impact of trauma and suicide within the first responder community. The first responder community has one of the highest rates of suicide of any population. I have given different versions of similar presentations well over a hundred times. The presentation aims to equip the audience with a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by these heroic individuals and provide practical strategies to enhance resilience and foster a culture of support.

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions 3
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Beyond the Alarm – Youth Mental Health Solutions - Live Streamed / Recorded

Youth suicide, anxiety, and depression are on the rise, and school shootings are reported in the news. Parents feel desperate to protect their children physically and emotionally. When a child cuts their finger, parents know how to treat it and when to get medical care. Yet when a child is bullied, experiencing anxiety or depression, or struggling with thoughts of suicide, parents don’t know how to help. Additionally, mental healthcare workers and school counselors are stretched thin and unable to meet increasing demand alone. We are leaving out an important member of the team by not engaging and educating parents about their child’s mental health. As parents learn to care for their child's mental health they can strengthen their communities by increasing resilience among youth. In this session, participants will learn how parents and practitioners can work together to improve youth mental health and prevent suicide. Access to free online parenting courses that support parents in addressing common mental health issues will be provided.

CALM – Counseling on Access to Lethal Means - In Person ONLY

CALM: Counseling on Access to Lethal Means is an evidence based training designed to help providers implement counseling strategies to help clients at risk for suicide and their families reduce access to lethal means, particularly (but not exclusively) firearms. It includes a number of components: background on suicide data and lethal means; an introduction to firearms; video and didactic presentation that models the counseling strategy; a presentation and discussion on conducting a counseling session and includes role plays.