Vail Place attends National Council for Behavioral Health Conference

Vail Place attends National Council for Behavioral Health Conference

On March 7th, 2016 staff members from Vail Place traveled to Las Vegas, NV for the National Council for Behavioral Health Conference also known as NatCon16. The annual three-day conference brings together health, mental health, and addiction care professionals from across the country to discuss industry innovations and best practices. Vail Place staff returned from the conference bursting with new ideas and ways to improve current programs and initiatives.

This year NatCon16 focused specifically on social determinants of health as well as addiction. Linda Rosenberg, National Council President and CEO, kicked off the event with a discussion regarding the convergence of policy and technology,  and praised the organization’s growth and ability to make a difference to large numbers of people.   She was followed by Hardball’s Chris Matthews, who spoke of the importance of electing someone who can get things done and giving them the power to do so.  Opening day also included The Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, who delivered a compelling and informative talk on the science behind brain function and addiction.

Another feature of this year’s conference was a segment called “Uncomfortable Conversations” in which experts provided insights about opposing viewpoints on key issues. Many of the conversations focused on the role of race as a health variable and in a person’s ability to access care. Sally Stael from Yale University pointed out that race aside, doctors need to have appropriate amounts of time with patients in order to be effective. Also discussed were privacy issues relating to 42 CFR Part 2 and civil commitment.

“Although the entire conference was a huge learning experience, Patrick Kennedy’s speech literally brought me to tears,” said Vicky Couillard, Executive Director of Vail Place. “His personal experiences, combined with a strong knowledge of our needs in mental health public policy make him an impactful spokesperson for those with mental illness.” Kennedy was part of a panel discussion with other members of his family, in which the Kennedy legacy of contribution to removing the stigma of mental illness,  and further legislation to support initiatives around mental health, was highlighted.

To celebrate and honor key contributions in the field, the conference closed with the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Awards of Excellence. Awards this year were issued for: Inspiring Hope, Advocacy Leadership, Visionary Leadership, Change Maker, Helping Hands, and Impact. These awards are given to individuals, their families, and health care workers.

In addition to these formal events, the conference provided attendees ample opportunities to network and learn from each other on a more personal level. Inspirational stories were heard during several sections of the conference including Ignite! and the Ted-style talks. Other events included book signings, opportunities for care takers to take care of themselves, and a topical film series.

The National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH) works with 2,500 member organizations to provide comprehensive, high-quality, affordable care to the more than 10 million adults, children, and families affected by mental illnesses or addiction across America.  The NCBH offers resources aimed at ensuring treatments and services are effective and implemented appropriately. NCBH also advocates for policy changes targeting health care access for people with addiction and other mental health illnesses. They operate a Mental Health First Aid program, and conference attendees were provided opportunities to become certified Mental Health First Aid providers.