Keynote: A Man on Fire: Georgia Man on the Road to Recovery after Four Decades

Presented by Bill Carruthers.

Before my recovery, I was all of those horrible, scary things that you hear about regarding mental illness and addiction. I was that in spades, not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. I believed that’s who I was. It was a hopeless place to be and I was there for 40 years. Forty years is a long time to be anywhere, but especially there. Today I am the Director of Peer Workforce and Development for Highland Rivers CSB, Today, I work with people who have educated and invested in me, these relationships propel me forward.. Today I’ve committed my life to that process for other people. This workshop/presentation will make this incredible journey available to you and the people that you serve.

Check out his story:

Leadership Transition: Strengthening and sustaining before a Leadership Transition

Presented by Julia Burns.

Boards of Directors are often ill-equipped when staff leadership changes. This workshop will give Boards and CEO’s the tools to successfully navigate this critical time for nonprofits and to position the organization for future success. You will benefit from this overview even if your organization does not expect a transition.

Keeping Your Head in the Game: Mental Health and Stress Management for Mental Health Professionals

Presented by Dr. Marsha Brown.

This session will focus on identifying signs and symptoms of stress; physical, cognitive, and emotional impacts of stress; the impact of stress on MHP work productivity and interpersonal relationships.

Natural Living Natural Recovery

Presented by Jeanine Hoff.

Individuals in the process of mental health recovery often only consider traditional forms of treatment such as medication, therapy or a combination of the two. The incorporation of natural lifestyle changes can greatly complement and improve recovery. Natural treatment incorporates such changes as sleep hygiene, aromatherapy, meditation and mindfulness.

Why Are They So Stressed? Understanding and Helping Today’s Youth

Presented by Deborah Anthony.

I will explore the different reasons why there has been an increase in depression, stress and suicide in teens in the last 10 years including screen dependency, a generation of overly conscientious parents, and a school system that places too much emphasis on testing and performance. Many teens do not develop a sense of self, lack effective social skills, and tend to avoid dealing with and resolving interpersonal issues.

Panel Discussion: “God Knows Where I Am” PBS Documentary Screening & Lunch Followed by Panel Discussion

Presented by Tara Wildes, Chandler Coggins, Jeff Stone.

Panel: Chandler Coggins, MSW-Mental Health America of Northeast Florida; Tara Wildes, NAMI Jacksonville and former Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office

Premiering on PBS on October 16, 2018, GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM is the story of Linda Bishop, a well-educated New Hampshire mother who suffered from severe bipolar disorder with psychosis, who was intermittently incarcerated and homeless, inevitably being committed for three years to a state psychiatric facility. Successfully fighting her sister’s protective attempts to be named her legal guardian, Linda was able to refuse treatment and medication, and eventually procured an early, unconditional release, despite the lack of post release planning. Upon her release, she wandered ten miles down the road from the hospital, broke into an abandoned farmhouse and lived off of rainwater and apples picked from a nearby orchard for the next four months, through one of the coldest winters on record. Unable to leave the house, she became its prisoner, and remained there, a prisoner of her own mind, eventually starving to death. Her body was discovered several months later and with it a diary that Linda kept documenting her journey. The diary is poignant, beautiful, funny, spiritual, and deeply disturbing.

In tackling the subject matter, the award-winning filmmakers began from a social justice perspective but their focus quickly shifted to a more intimate and artistic exploration. How does one depict the interior landscape of a person who is imprisoned by the mind? How does one build empathy for a person who is no longer alive? The story is told from a variety of perspectives, including her own, through recollection and first person narrative.

In creating the film, the filmmakers were very conscious of exploring the visual medium in a purposeful manner. The depiction of Linda’s conscious state was filmed in film, using 35mm, 16mm, and super 16mm for different reasons. They employed a variety of cameras, including a 1939 Eyemo and a 1980s Aaton, each for thematic reasons-to underline notions of dreamscapes, personal nostalgia and commercial memory. As Linda was an art history major before her break with sanity, the aesthetic and visual nature of telling the story was explored in ways that reference both film history and art history. They also used performance to access the diary, and actress Lori Singer is mesmerizing as the voice of Linda.

As one of the characters in the film states, we live in the most powerful country on earth, yet our society fails to protect those who cannot protect themselves. GOD KNOWS WHERE I AM is both a study of systemic failure and also a testament to the artistic and independent spirit of Linda Bishop. In a state known for its motto of “Live Free or Die,” Linda wanted to live free but given her mental illness, this proved to be a fatal decision. The film poses many provocative questions including the issue of civil liberties of the mentally ill—if one’s mind is not free, how can one truly exercise free will?

The result is a unique documentary that challenges the boundaries of the medium artistically and at the same time questions our societal norms for dealing with the mentally ill and homeless.

Advocacy 101 Your Voice Your Facts Your Stories

Presented by Erica Whitfield.

If your legislators do not hear your voice, then they may hear the voices of those who choose to speak against your purpose and your mission. In this workshop, you will learn key strategies and concepts needed to successfully engage and stay connected with local, state and national legislators.

Suicide Awareness, Assessment & Prevention Strategies

Presented by Jacquelyn Canning.

* Elucidate statistics associated with suicide globally and in the United States
* Discuss the possible relationship between suicide and psychiatric illnesses: major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia
* Highlight various suicide assessment tools
* Present current research on the neurobiology of suicide
* Provide suicide prevention resources and insight into ongoing research

Intuitive Eating

Presented by Dr. Indelicato, Katie Stuart.

Intuitive eating is an evidence-based treatment model that empowers clients to reframe thoughts related to food, body image, and diet culture. This workshop will use didactic and experiential activities to demonstrate how to integrate intuitive eating in mental health treatment and recovery. Psychoeducational materials will be provided.

Art As “First Aid” When Working With Families

Presented by Carmen Joyce.

Creative expression has been used as a tool for healing in both clinical and informal practice for centuries. Studies have shown that people benefit from creative expression both physically and emotionally and there is evidence that art and music can even reduce hospital stays. Creative activities can relieve stress and aid in communication, which makes it a perfect tool to use with teens. Art provides a safe place for teens to express themselves. The process of creating teaches teens see art as a coping skill and provides a safe space for them to express themselves

SOAR: From Disability to Work

Presented by Jermaine Corley, John Scott.

SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) reaches people who live with mental illness and are at risk of or experiencing homelessness by providing comprehensive assistance in applying for Social Security disability benefits. This presentation gives the audience a closer look at the SOAR program on both a national and a local level. The unique value SOAR brings to communities is highlighted, including the significant impact on the economy and quality of life measures caused by increased wealth among our most vulnerable populations. A particular emphasis is given to the role SOAR plays in the overall recovery of individuals. For most people who are successful in obtaining Social Security benefits through SOAR, a disability check is not the end of the story. People served by SOAR programs can and do find stable, permanent housing, continue their education, and even return to work. Done properly, SOAR can be one component of a rich, satisfying, and purposeful life lived in recovery.

Mental Health Challenges and Corresponding School-Based Services for Military Children and Youth

Presented by Vincenza Stone.

Military children and youth are confronted with unique challenges which put them at a higher risk for mental health disorders. Project Navigation’s goal is to provide an increased level of social and emotional support for military connected students through counseling interventions and the creation of a positive mental wellness environment.

Counseling Children- An Introduction to Play Therapy

Presented by Anna Farrin.

Play therapy is an innovative approach to working with children. How children use play to engage in relationships, communicate feelings, and process emotionally significant experiences will be addressed. The therapeutic power of play and counseling skills used by play therapists to engage in therapeutic relationships with children will be discussed.

Strength for our Youth

Presented by Russ Warner, Jalen Douglas-El.

Jalen Douglas and Russ Warner will be sharing the challenges they faced in their youth including medical and mental health problems, suicidal ideation, hopelessness and desperation. They will share their stories of recovery and their paths to becoming youth peers through interactive teaching and skits to demonstrate how youth peers can be implemented effectively into practice.

Panel Discussion: The Future of Peer Services in Florida

On Friday, our breakfast panel is a focused discussion by a group of Certified Peer Recovery Specialists hearing from them about the needs in treatment, in legislation, and in the community with the fight against stigma. It should be enlightening to hear about living with mental illness from a lived experience perspective and not just a text book perspective.

Culturally Competent Care for the LBGT Community

Presented by Dona Leith.

This workshop discusses areas of knowledge needed to provide supportive treatment to the LGBTQ community. It will cover terminology for appropriate communication and understanding of how people identify themselves. It will discuss the stages of openness and give resources for providing a more welcoming and supportive environment for care.

Nutrition and Mental Health for All Ages

Presented by Dr. Barbara L. Gracious.

“Diet Change or Nutritional Supplements?” will inform on how diet is associated with mental health and offer evidence that diet changes do, in fact, improve mental health. In addition, attendees will learn how to make appropriate changes to their own diet. The research on how micronutrients may broadly improve specific mental disorders will also be covered.

Empowered by Peers

Sherita Douglas will address the importance of integrating clinical services and peer support for the benefit of the individual through interactive demonstrations. She will share her incredible journey and how she turned decades of trauma into a life full of joy and fulfillment to become the empowered leader she is today. Demonstrating how the Veterans Administration has implemented the peer model successfully into an integrated practice helping individuals live a life of recovery.

Sand Tray Therapy, an Emerging Trend in Mental Health Counseling

Presented by Mary Beth Ridderman, Jennifer Celani.

Sand tray therapy is an emerging trend in the mental health community. Useful with children and adults, in individual or group settings, this modality uses symbols to promote better communication, understanding and healing. An understanding of sand tray therapy and how clients may benefit will be demonstrated through hands-on experience.

Legislative Realities Workshop

Presented by Wendy Hughes, Michael Hightower.

This workshop will look at what we do well as advocates when we go to Tallahassee to meet with our Legislators and maybe what we do not do so well. Hearing feedback from Mr. Hightower we will get tips on how we can better our game and learn how to effectively make our ask.

Following the presentation from Mr. Hightower, a workgroup will be facilitated by Wendy Hughes, CEO of Mental Health America of NE FL and Tara Wildes of NAMI Jacksonville to layout our Advocacy Platform for Legislative Session 2019.

Journaling & Writing for Healing and Emotional Wellness

Presented by Bobbie O’Connor, Yvette Angelique Hyater-Adams.

10:30am to 12 noon on Friday


Presented by Megan Cochran.

10:30am to 12 noon on Friday


Presented by Alisha Ross Ramcharitar.

Thursday 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Just Add Rhythm

Plants and gardening

Presented by Darlene Hall.

Thursday 2pm – 3pm

UF/IFAS Extension Office

Social media, stigma, and community

Presented by Sydney Solan.

Thursday 8am – 9am