Engage & Excel 2022Day 2 Highlights - MMHPI - Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute
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Day 2 Highlights

Engage & Excel 2022
Day 2 Highlights

The Engage & Excel Conference continued this morning for its second and final day. Attendees and speakers involved in mental health from diverse industries came together to share their perspectives on the most daunting challenges in mental health today and offer real solutions for a better tomorrow.

A recurring theme across many E&E sessions this year is the mental health workforce crisis. Even if we develop all the best ideas and receive ample funding, without the workforce required, we can’t follow through with meaningful, comprehensive solutions. As we continue to think through mental health policy and implementation in hospital systems, primary care, school districts, the child welfare system, and the justice system, law enforcement, and throughout our communities, remember that addressing workforce shortages is essential to progress.

Below are programming highlights from today. We hope you’ll join us for more excellent programming during Engage & Excel 2023. Please sign up for the E&E newsletter to stay up to date with information about next year’s event!

Transforming Mental Health through Venture Philanthropy

Moderator: Kacie Kelly, MHS. Speakers: Cara Altimus, Solome Tibebu, Reginald D. Williams II.

This morning starting off with a stimulating conversation about venture philanthropy as an approach for developing innovative solutions to the most complex problems in mental health.

The hard question we have to ask ourselves is if the fragmented approach we have to mental health today is going to take us to the future we want tomorrow.

– Reginald D. Williams II

When diverse stakeholders come together and lend their unique contributions and resources across philanthropy, policy, and economic investment, more effective solutions can be pieced together to drive substantive change.

For digital solutions you can have the most amazing tool but if you don’t have your distribution sorted out it’s not going anywhere, it’s just collecting dust. Meadows Institute has a unique platform to partner with so many companies to make that distribution faster and really put it in place.

– Solome Tibebu


The Kids Are Not Alright: Family Centered Solutions for Juvenile Justice Reform

Moderator: Marcy Melvin, LPC. Speakers: Amanda Peters Britton, MEd, LPC, NCC, Dan Edwards, PhD, Sheamekah Williams, Tiffanie Williams-Brooks, MA, LPC-S.

It’s not the kids that aren’t alright, it’s the system.

– Marcy Melvin, LPC

When the juvenile justice system fails to address the mental health needs of youth, those individuals are more likely to face incarceration, further traumatization, and a lifetime of involvement in the criminal justice system.

We’re doing it in a way that brings the best tools & resources to the people that have big hearts, but maybe not the training. We can do it in a way that delivers services to homes & keeps kids out of jail.

– Dan Edwards, PhD

New strategies like Multisystemic Therapy (MST) and a robust continuum of evidence-based programs can effectively address these challenges. These effective interventions at the home and community levels can disrupt this cycle and improve a young person’s life outcomes.

This is not one isolated problem, it’s all of our problem. That’s the way you have to approach it.

– Sheamekah Williams


Proven & Practical Strategies to Expand the Workforce

Moderator: Becca Brune, MPAff, MBA, Speakers: Eric Estrada, Ashlee Harris, Vikram Patel, PhDMatthew S. Stanford, PhD.

Does everyone with a mild mental health issue necessarily need to see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other top specialist? Not necessarily.

Panelists discussed ways we can train and utilize existing organizations, staff, and individuals to effectively help people with the most basic mental health needs and, if warranted, open the door to more extensive care.

As far as the training and credentials required by community health workers, it differs from state to state, but the main quality they must possess is empathy.

– Ashlee Harris

With the proper training and digital tools, we can significantly expand the pool of people who can help when someone is experiencing a mental illness.

Building community based mental health care goes beyond what traditional mental health care actually offers. It invokes the healing power of social connectedness which happens when you are receiving care from people who speak your language, look like you, etc.

– Vikram Patel, PhD


Tragedy to Triumph: Addressing the Silent Epidemic of Childhood Grief

Moderator: John Snook, JD. Speakers: Catherine E. Jaynes, PhDJulie Kaplow, PhD, ABPPHeather Nesle.

We’re focused on bereavement because it’s the most frequently reported type of trauma in clinic-referred youth, the most common form of trauma worldwide, the most distressing trauma among adults & youth in the general population. It is also the strongest predictor of poor school outcomes above & beyond any other form of trauma.

– Julie Kaplow, PhD, ABPP

At least 215,000 American children have lost a parent or caregiver as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic between March 2020 and May 2022. The COVID Collaborative and Trauma and Grief Center’s partnership was formed to meet the grief-related needs of bereaved youth across the country.

Our goal in the end is to raise awareness to advocate for not only the children, but the families & the schools.

– Catherine E. Jaynes, PhD

Partnerships leveraging both program and policy expertise can be powerful tools in addressing the challenge of childhood grief and improve the chance of positive outcomes for our youth.


It’s Skill Not Will: Giving Families the Tools to Help Their Kids Succeed

Moderator: Tegan Henke, MS, MFT. Speakers: J. Stuart Ablon, PhDAndy Keller, PhDKarl Rathjen, MD.

More than half the battle is having an accurate understanding of why kids struggle—kids do well if they can, not if they want to. We equip families with that philosophy & that mantra that it’s about skill, not will. That really positions caretakers in a much more empathic way & the greatest power we have as parents is empathy.

– J. Stuart Ablon, PhD

A significant body of research shows that challenging behavior is more about lacking the skill to do better and less about lacking the will. The Goodness Web Foundation is investing in a better approach: Collaborative Problem Solving. It has been effectively used across multiple settings to build empathy, teach youth the skills they lack, and improve behavior.

Baked into the ingredients of this is the skills training so all parents have to do is walk through these ingredients–including modeling & practice, & these symptoms are then reduced & children effectively build these neurocognitive skills. But children aren’t the only ones; adults build skills as well.

– J. Stuart Ablon, PhD

Through shifting to a mindset of empathy and understanding, both youth and caregivers can develop the skills to be their best.

View Day 1 Highlights