Annual State Conference

Register Online at

For a printable Agenda to mail with a check CLICK HERE

For Company/Organization  Sponsorship OpportunitiesCLICK HERE

8:15 - 9:15        Registration/Booth Viewing/Breakfast Refreshments 

9:20 - 9:25       Welcome: Executive Director, NAMI Connecticut

9:30 - 10:15     Keynote: Mary Olson, Ph.D., Founder, and Director of the Institute for Dialogic Practice and an        

                         Internationally-Recognized Therapist and Lecturer

10:30 - 11:20   Workshops A, B, C

A: The Culture of Poverty & Mental Health: Melissa Mendez MS, IMH-E®, Executive Director, CT Association for Infant Mental Health. Find out how even our earliest interactions with children begin to shape their mental wellness.

B: The Culture of Suicide Prevention Across Vulnerable Communities & Care Transitions: Lauren Weinstock; Ph. D., Associate professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. Brown University. In this presentation, Dr. Weinstock will provide an overview of the landscape surrounding transitions in care for individuals at risk for suicide. There will be an emphasis on not only challenges and barriers faced by consumers, family members, and healthcare providers, but there will also be an emphasis placed on resources and new developments to ease these vulnerable transitions and provide support during this critical point in treatment. 

C: The Role of Supportive Housing as Pathway for Recovery and Independence: Chelsea Ross, Associate Director, and Kyle Barrette, Program Manager, Corporation for Supportive Housing. The Corporation for Supportive Housing is a leader in best practices to stabilize at-risk populations in supportive housing.  Presenters will discuss current initiatives aimed at helping the highest need, highest risk persons with serious mental illnesses move towards stability and independence.

11:30 – 12:20  Workshops D, E, F

D: The Culture & Intersection of Mental Health, Ethnicity and Race: Amanda Pickett; Consultant, State Education Resource Center. Nitza M. Diaz; Consultant, State Education Resource Center, and the CT Parent Information and Resource Center. During this interactive session, participants will learn the Courageous Conversation tool to guide conversations around patient-centered planning.  The tool offers an opportunity for providers to self-reflect on their practice and ensures that their care encompasses racial, cultural, and linguist differences to ensure individualized and equitable outcomes.

E: The Culture of Mental Health in Gender Identity, Acceptance Vs Alienation: Jacki Alessio, LCSW. She is a newly appointed Integrated Clinician at the Community Health and Wellness Center in Torrington, CT.  In this workshop presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to hear case studies and concepts of Gender Non-Conforming Individuals in the community as well as amongst Professional Networks. Attendees will have the opportunity to share thoughts/concerns in a safe dialogue about addressing gender bias and discrimination in their workplace and professional networks. Attendees will have acquired more insights and knowledge as to how to create safe spaces for Gender Non-Conforming individuals which allow for greater growth in diversity in their workplace settings.

F: The Culture of Wellness Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Dr. Thomas Cordier, Licensed Professional Counselor, Ph.D., MA, D-I-CBT.

12:30 – 1:20      Lunch – Main Room

1:30 – 2:20  Workshops G, H, I

G: Tango Todo Terreno: An Experiential Link Between Culture & Mental Health: Gerardo Sorkin, MSW; Psy.M. It is a participatory and experiential workshop that links concepts and tools drawn from the science of psychology with the multi-sensoriality of Tango. Utilizing the music as a sensory- perceptive cultural resource, we will mindfully establish edifying connections with each other and the behavioral, emotional and cognitive skills planned for each exercise. ***This is not a tango dancing class  

 H: Supporting the Trauma Exposed Child: Promoting Recovery and Resilience : Damion Grasso, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UCONN. Participants of this workshop will gain a deeper understanding of how trauma exposure can impact child development and functioning and research-supported principles of treating children with posttraumatic stress disorder and difficulties associated with developmental trauma disorder. Participants will take away practical knowledge and skills that they can employ to support recovery from trauma-related mental health problems and promote resilient outcomes for the children in their care. 

I: The Culture of Opioids: Anatomy of an Epidemic & The Role of the Pharmaceutical Industry in The US Overdose Epidemic. Thomas F. Babor, Ph.D., M.P.H. Professor, Community Medicine, and Health Care UCONN. Dr. Babor will discuss the epidemiology of the Opioid epidemic—"What is clear from a more recent analysis of industry-driven trends is that the differences between licit and illicit markets in psycho-pharmaceuticals have become blurred and that the introduction of powerful opioid analgesics into an already volatile drug market is capable of negatively impacting a nation’s life expectancy statistics.”

2:30 – 3:20  Journey to HOPE discussion: Panelist TBD                                                                                                                                              

Moderator: Dr. Vinod Srihari, Yale Dept. of Psychiatry, Director of Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis (STEP)


LaShawne Houston, LMSW, Caregiver & Author of “Insanity Plea: On Race, Mental Health, and Judicial System.”

Ken Mysogland, MSW (Bureau Chief of External Operations and Affairs at DCF)

Collin Schuster, Young Adult

Frank Somohano, Veteran & Mental Health Advocate



Scroll to top