13th Annual Conference

May 31, 2024

Save the Date
Thank you to our sponsor
Nieisha Diehl

Nieisha Deed

Nieisha Deed is a powerful emerging voice and leader in the mental health and wellness space in Boston and is working fiercely to advocate for mental wellness in Boston’s Black community. She is the visionary and creator behind PureSpark. As a person living with bipolar disorder, Nieisha understands all too well how important access to holistic support services and community are to one’s mental wellness. As a Black woman, Nieisha is a community builder and disruptor in the mental health and wellness space. She is dismantling the walls of silence by raising awareness about mental illness and wellness, not just through PureSpark, but with speaking engagements and facilitated events, where she shares her personal story as a Black woman living with a mental illness.

Conference Kickoff

Brooke Doyle

Conference Kickoff from Department of Mental Health (DMH)
DMH Commissioner Brooke Doyle

Morning Workshops

Karen Carreira

The Fight to Stop Suicide
Karen Carreira, MA, LMHC
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. Our AFSP 101 presentation highlights the work of our organization and both why and how we fight for the cause. We cover each of our four main pillars of work – research, advocacy, prevention education and loss and healing – while sharing ways you can get involved and make an impact in Massachusetts.

Keeping your Kid out of the Juvenile Justice System
Cristina F. Freitas, Esq., Deb Freitas, Esq., Freitas & Freitas, LLP

Children involved with the juvenile legal system can experience interruptions in their education, isolation from their friends and family, stigma in their community, and decreased opportunities for employment and higher education/vocational schooling. Keeping your child out of the juvenile justice system may be one of the most important things you can do to ensure your child’s continued success. We’ll review the data on juvenile justice involvement and strategies to keep your kid out of the juvenile justice system.

Guy Stephens

Reducing Systemic Trauma: A Neuroscience-Aligned Approach to Discipline
Guy Stephens, Founder and Executive Director of AASR
Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint (AASR)

Children with disabilities, Black children, and children with a trauma history are often subjected to systemic trauma. Systemic trauma occurs when a system’s policies and practices cause direct or indirect harm to people within the system. Systemic trauma can occur in systems designed to help children, such as our schools. Outdated approaches to classroom management based on a shallow understanding of human behavior often lead to rewards and punishment approaches that fail to help and often harm children. In this session, we will examine well-intentioned approaches and how they lead to systemic trauma. We will reframe the idea and intent of discipline. We will consider how traditional methods of discipline are failing kids and how a neuroscience-aligned approach can make a positive difference for children, teachers, and staff.

Johana Rodriguez

Fundamentos Básicos de la Salud Mental
Johana Rodriguez, Multicultural Outreach Coordinator
Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL)

Tu salud mental es la clave para vivir una vida feliz y plena. No se trata solo de evitar las enfermedades mentales, sino de lograr un estado de bienestar en el que puedas prosperar y florecer. Al priorizar tu salud mental y la de tu familia, puedes manejar mejor el estrés diario, construir relaciones más sólidas y llevar una vida más productiva. Mereces vivir tu mejor vida, y eso comienza con que todos cuiden de su salud mental. Este taller tiene como objetivo ayudarte a aprender a manejar tus emociones, superar el estrés y mejorar tu bienestar mental en general para ti y tu familia. También hablaremos de cómo puedes tener una comunidad de apoyo en la que puedas conectarte con otras personas que están pasando por experiencias similares.

Celeste Viciere

Unleashing the Power of Parenting: Strategies for Nurturing Your Intense Child
Celeste Viciere, LMHC

Are you struggling to understand and connect with your intense child? In this session, we will explore strategies for unleashing the power of parenting and fostering a nurturing environment for your intense child. Discover techniques to navigate their strong emotions and unique needs, empowering them to thrive in all aspects of life.

Haner Hernandez

Working with People with Substance Use Disorders and Supporting Recovery Processes
Haner Hernandez, Ph.D., CPS, CADCII, LADCI

This workshop will explore Substance Use Disorders and their disproportionate impacts on individuals, families, and entire communities. Participants will learn about the development of disparities and need to address the Structural Determinants of Health as a way to Support Recovery and wellness. The multiple pathways of recovery will be explored, and the participants will learn about their roles in people in need, those seeking help, and recovery community utilizing an equity lens.

Afternoon Workshops

Celeste Viciere

Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness: Embracing a Holistic Mindset
Celeste Viciere,LMHC

In the pursuit of a fulfilling life, achieving optimal health and wellness is important. Embracing a holistic mindset is the key to unlocking our true potential. By considering the interconnectedness of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being, we can create a harmonious balance that promotes overall wellness. In this session we will explore the power of embracing a holistic approach to living a vibrant and fulfilling life.

Katrina Delaney

The Transformational Power of Student-Led IEPs
Katrina Delaney, M.Ed.
Empowered Pathways

How often have you attended an IEP meeting where the most critical team member was absent? Yes, I am talking about the student. Student-led Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) empower students, increase self-efficacy, improve student and teacher relationships, strengthen school and family partnerships, and prepare youth with disabilities to transition to adulthood successfully. This workshop aims to share best practices and case studies from districts that have utilized Student-led IEPs to encourage these practices in Massachusetts. Open, honest, and affirming conversations about their disability are essential for youth to develop a healthy self-concept. Engaging youth with disabilities in their IEP process allows schools and families to have intentional conversations about individual needs, strengths, and goals with the most essential advocate at the table– the self-advocate. Come to this workshop to learn how to integrate student-led IEPs into your school’s Special Ed. Practices

Tanya Trevett

Early Psychosis: Symptoms, Identification, and Treatment
Emily Gagen, PhD – Director of M-PATH
Tanya Trevett, M.Ed. – M-PATH Family Partner
Sarah Dreyfus – M-PATH Young Adult Peer Mentor

This presentation aims to provide participants with information about common symptoms of psychosis and what kinds of signs to look for to indicate that a young adult may be experiencing psychosis. We will also discuss how to ask and talk about these experiences and identify some common screening strategies that may help with this process. Finally, we will review specialized treatment approaches for early psychosis and discuss a new referral and triage program (Massachusetts Psychosis Access and Triage Hub, or M-PATH) that can help to connect clients, families, and providers to these types of resources.

Allie Emig

Eating Disorders and Anxiety Disorders: Overlap, Differences and Treatment
Ally Emig, LCSW-S, CEDS, RYT, Education Specialist
National Alliance for Eating Disorders

In this presentation, participants will get an overview of eating disorders and anxiety disorders. Prevalence rates of eating disorders as well as contributing factors to the development of both disorders will be discussed. The signs and symptoms of each diagnostic category will be reviewed in addition to the similarities and differences between eating disorders and anxiety disorders. The importance of proper assessment and treatment will be highlighted. Finally, resources will be offered for connecting individuals to care when a referral to a specialist or higher level of care is warranted.

Ruth de la Cruz

Taller de Derechos Básicos 
Ruth de la Cruz, Information-Outreach Specialist – Latino Families/PTI
Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN)

Brindará herramientas esenciales para participar plenamente en el proceso de educación especial.

Tamara Leroy-London

Cultural Considerations in Supporting Caribbean Families 
Tamara Leroy-London, LICSW
Healing With Trust Therapy, LLC
Healing & Wellness: Empowering Migrant Minds

Culture plays an important piece in how families understand and respond to mental health needs. This workshop will explore mental health from a cultural lens and will be led by a first generation Haitian-American psychotherapist. Participants will learn best practices in supporting Caribbean families for best treatment outcomes.