2015 Mental Health Symposium

A deeper look at challenges and solutions

To better understand all of the ways mental health issues affect society, University of Phoenix® College of Social Sciences partnered with the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC®), the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI®) and STEMconnector® to present a national symposium.

We brought together mental health, counseling and criminal justice thought leaders and stakeholders from across the country for this interactive event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on November 3rd.

Videos of the panel discussion, as well as a full report of the symposium findings, will be available for download on this page at a later date. 

The keynote speaker was:

  • Malika Saada Saar — Special Counsel on Human Rights, The Raben Group

The guest speaker was:

  • Elizabeth Taylor — Executive Director, National Health Law Program (NHeLP)

Featured panelists discussed the challenging work being done around these important issues and the creative solutions being implemented. Topics included:

Research reveals about 21 percent of state and local prisoners have a recent history of mental illness,1 and studies estimate that 70 percent of young people incarcerated in the juvenile justice system meet the diagnostic criteria for at least one mental illness.2 This panel explored why people enter the criminal justice system, the typical experience of someone in the system exhibiting mental illness symptoms, and ways to prevent and reverse the trend of incarcerating them.

  • Arlington Community Services Board — Leslie Weisman, LCSW, Client Services Entry Bureau Chief
  • Department of Correction and Rehabilitation Montgomery County, Maryland — Robert Green, Director
  • National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Mentors — Dr. Sophine Charles, Chair; NOBLE National Training Committee, Member
  • Industry Expert — Pete Earley, New York Times bestselling author and mental health advocate

Introduced and moderated by Ron Honberg, JD, National Director for Policy and Legal Affairs, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

The most common circumstance associated with suicide is a related mental health problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists suicide among the 10 leading causes of death in America,3 and the NIMH lists suicide as a major, preventable mental health problem. This panel explored broad issues including: suicide triggers and prevention; myths and taboos; associated physical illnesses; what to do when someone is considering suicide; the resulting impact on loved ones; and the relationship between self-injurious behavior and suicide.

  • Columbia University — Dr. Kelly Posner, Founder and Director, Center for Suicide Risk Assessment
  • East Carolina University — Dr. Kylie Dotson-Blake, Associate Professor, Department of Interdisciplinary Professions
  • Not Our Native Daughters — Lynnette Grey Bull, Director; Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs, Chair
  • Youngstown State University — Dr. Victoria Kress, Professor, Department of Counseling and Special Education

Introduced and moderated by Dr. Scott Hinkle, Editor, The Professional Counselor, National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates (NBCC)

Human trafficking occurs in every country in the world, across every social strata, and in rural and metropolitan areas. Victims include women, men and children from across many communities. Allies Against Slavery estimates the number of human trafficking victims could be as high as 30 million, meaning there are more slaves today than during all the years of the entire transatlantic slave trade combined.4 The result is a lifetime of mental health challenges. This panel explored the rise of trafficking and exploitation; how to train someone to recognize the signs; the psychological impact on survivors and escapees; and treatment options.

  • Communities Digital News — Jerome Elam, Columnist and Staff Writer; Child Sex-Trafficking Survivor, Child Advocate, Speaker; Marine Corps veteran
  • Phoenix Dream Center — Dr. Carla Grace, Certified Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Clinical Director
  • TraffickFree and S.O.A.P (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) —  Theresa L. Flores, Founder; Survivor; Author

Introduced and moderated by Dr. Stephen Sharp, Academic Dean, University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences

Emotional, mental and behavioral factors directly impact health. When an individual’s emotional health is out of balance, the body manifests this with physical symptoms. Some behavioral problems may even have a biological basis. Treating both the mind and body can be effective therapy for both trauma and illness. This panel explored how different therapies — yoga, art therapy and meditation — can help combat mental illnesses; and how mental illness can precipitate domestic violence and suicide.

  • Bastyr University California — Dr. DeJarra Sims, Assistant Professor of Naturopathic Medicine
  • Sex Trafficking Prevention — Savannah Sanders, BSW, Survivor Advocate, Author
  • Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania — Dr. Kurt Kraus, NCC, ACS, LPC, Professor and Chair, Department of Counseling and College Student Personnel
  • Swedish Medical Group (SMG) — Charlotte Foster, RN, BSN, MHA, Chief Nurse Executive

Introduced and moderated by Kakela Hall, Sr., CEO & Co-founder, K.D. Hall Communications, D&I Consultants

1 Glaze, L.E. & James, D.J. (2006). Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=789

2 Cocozza, J.J. & Skowyra (2007) Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System. National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice.

3 CDC (2013). 10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States, 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2013-a.pdf

4 Allies Against Slavery (2015). Modern Slavery http://www.alliesagainstslavery.org/slavery/

Full report coming soon

The full report of in-depth findings and the executive summary of highlights will be available for download soon.

Full report coming soon

Annual mental health survey

Each year we conduct a survey to learn more about mental health during the holiday season and release our findings. View the survey results and learn more about the holidays and mental health, along with a few tips on managing this serious issue.