Wow! #NatCon16: A Recap

I had the privilege to be invited to speak at the National Council on Behavioral Health Annual conference. I attended from March 6 until March 9, 2016.  In speaking on the final day, I had a chance to attend the entire conference and a pre-conference (I will get to that in a minute). I wanted to thank VP of communications, Alicia Aebersold, for inviting me to give a talk about twitter chats.

So first up I got to there the day before and spent time with my parents who live in Las Vegas (oh yeah, the conference was in Vegas). Next I went to a day of learning at the Zero Suicide in Healthcare pre-conference. This is a goal to develop systems of care to significantly reduce the public health crisis of suicide. I captured many of the insights and resources in the below storify…


This was a wonderful day of learning. It was great to hear some of the success stories organizations have had reducing suicide for people in their care. It was also inspiring to listen to the stories and efforts of the approximately 70 other participants who were attempting to reduce suicides in their systems of care.

They were also launching their social media campaign #SupportZero….

Day 1 Highlights

The opening address was wonderful with Linda Rosenburgh (CEO of National Council and fellow social worker) reviewing recent accomplishments of The National Council. What resonated with me was the progress she described in the last ten years. How much the organization and the voice of mental health has grown in the last ten years was inspiring. Also anytime you create a hashtag for a political movement,  I will share that. Linda announced #FundThe24 to support funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Centers…

This was followed by the opening keynote by Hardball host Chris Matthews.  He gave a wonderful insiders view of politics. With a great sense of humor, he described the complexities politics in both the past and the current state of affairs.

The enormity of resources to chat with in the “Solutions pavilion” and choices of presentations is difficult to describe in words and probably can not hit everything I ran into. I will try my best to hit the highlights. Sorry if you feel left out 😦

My first session was a sampling of digital tools for mental health featuring the companies Pear Therapeutics, My Strength and Big White Wall.. Here are some samples of what they do..

It was interesting to see the mix of things available in the digital space..

Next I wandered in to the solutions pavilion a bit and visited my friends at Sense Health (who I blogged about not too long ago)

I also visited Celerity EHR who I was chatting it up with a bit on twitter before the conference..

Then I got to hang out with Sara Barnes (a regular SPSM chat participant) at the Zero Suicide Institute booth…

Then I heard some important words from Michael Botticelli from The Office of National Drug Control Policy about attempting to shift the justice system to address treatment needs for substance abuse and not punishment…

Then I attended a presentation on mental health apps. There was an app that targets skills for young adults by Wellspring.. They collected some interesting data on clicks for certain tasks…

Day 2 Highlights

I went to some interesting presentations about potential changes one can make within your organization.  The first was a wonderful presentation via MTM Services and EverythingEHR about the nuts and bolts of choosing an electronic health record. As someone interested in technology this was a well informed talk. Here are some of the things to pay attention too..

After that presentation a really cool thing happened. I ran into Dr. Janet Munro and a co-worker from the UK. They are working on some digital solutions for mental health as well…

This was the first of many “tweet-ups” of people who I knew from twitter.  The most exciting one was finally meeting co-host of #SPSM chat Dr. Bart Andrews (some day I will meet Dr. April Foreman in person too)..


There were a lot of people who I got meet IRL (In Real Life). Dr. Anne Beckershutte who was one of the first people I connected with on twitter about behavioral health and physical health integration. Pictured here in her jacket from The Walking Gallery..

I got to meet Janet Kennedy, who hosts the Podcast Get Social Health (@getsocialhealth). I appeared on her podcast this past summer.  So many others who were not pictured including David Covington of Recovery Internationa (@DavidWCovington), John Lynn (@techguy), and Suicide Prevention champions Kevin Hines @KevinHinesStory, Kevin Briggs (@KevinBriggsGGB) and Sally Spencer Thomas (@SSpencerThomas) There was one person who thought taking a selfie with me was a celebrity moment 🙂

I also got a chance to visit Laura Young who works at Behavioral Health Information Partners. I enjoy Laura’s posts on her LinkedIn page, she is advocating heavily for mental health’s inclusion on Health Information Exchanges..

Back to some resources on day two. The next presentation I attended was on same day access to the initial assessment at a mental health clinic. It was pretty amazing what a difference a day makes in the No Call/No Show and cancellation rate at a clinic…

For more information I would recommend looking at the whole presentation found here and following up with MTM Services. They do some awesome consulting work on quality improvement for outpatient mental health.

For the final presentation there was one on the use of bio-markers; namely EEG’s and taking cheek swabs to measure the effectiveness of psychotropic medications. Presenters demonstrated the potential for this technology to reduce the need for trial and error in psychotropic medication trials..

Mynd Analytics is an interesting open source project on collecting baseline EEGs to monitor the effectiveness of medications. They are trying to collect baseline data through EEG and then checking the brain’s response to medications at various points. They have a large database and it growing. They demonstrated how this database is already helping decision support to reduce multiple psychiatric medication trials…

Genomind showed some interesting data about how using cheek swabs of genes can predict the likelihood that people will respond to medications..

I see families struggle with multiple drug trials and it was fascinating to hear the potential of these devices to better understand the response to medical intervention.

I made one last stop to the Solutions Pavilion for some other interesting digital tools..

and one of my favorite programs I ran into was  providing mental health screening systems for schools, colleges, and workplaces…

At the end of day 2 I got to meet my co-presenter Dana Lewis for the first time. It was interesting developing a presentation with someone on the other side of the country. I was running out of battery but eager to take a selfie to chronicle that we has finally met…

Day 3

Day three marked the final day. I was pretty busy packing and ensuring I was ready for my presentation but wanted to make sure I attended  “Inside Out: The Voices Inside a Behavioral Health Executives Head”. I always enjoy David Covington’s blog posts and not surprisingly he is a dynamic speaker. I attempted to Periscope the presentation but only got the first 7 minutes…

David did a great job describing how different mentors have shaped his thinking via “their voices”. Paying tribute to the Disney movie, Inside Out, he outlined how these different voices work together to assist with leadership in behavioral health.

He also summarized this in his own blog post and the below link is my attempt to video tape it …

My final resource is…. well me… I presented in the last slot in the conference on Twitter Chats. Not only did I present, I got to co-present with Dana Lewis, founder of the Health Care Social Media twitter chat (#HCSM). I have been doing twitter chats for about the last 2 years. I am really passionate about this use of twitter and Dana’s 7 years of running a twitter chat made for a wonderful presentation. Thanks to Carl Dunn Jr for curating this via a Storify..


There were so many take away’s from this event and many things I did not capture in this summary. I continue to be amazed how the Zero Suicide movement is growing. As I was leaving I got one more pic with Dr. Marlon Rollins, a leader in attempting to integrate Zero Suicide into his health system. I hope to get more pictures with folks doing that but more importantly want to continue to promote and hear the success stories.

I was just inspired by people trying new things, innovating, and listening to the people we serve. There were a lot interesting partnerships happening and the future of mental health is bright. Linda Rosenburg’s opening speech said it best in talking about where we have been and where we are going. Also the awards evening (which I did not even cover) was inspiring. There are many agencies doing wonderful things. Mental Health and health systems should celebrate their success. Giving the progress that I heard about in the last year, mental health should be excelling ten years from now. Based on the information at Nation Council 2016, we are moving at a great pace. I hope to  make it to National Council in 2017 to hear more successes…









3 thoughts on “Wow! #NatCon16: A Recap

  1. Pingback: My Top Five Blog Posts of 2016 (and other highlights) | Stuck on Social Work

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