Why this theme?
The 2023 Mental Health America (MHA) Conference is a weeklong event in Washington, D.C., that will include Policy Institute Day on June 6, MHA Affiliate Day on June 7, and Annual Conference Days on June 8-10. All events will be offered in hybrid format on our custom platform and will include in-person, live-streamed, and virtual sessions with closed captioning.
The Conference brings together thousands of people – MHA affiliates, peers, providers, government officials, media, advocates, and supporters from across the country and globe. Past speakers have included musicians Michelle Williams and Andy Grammer, author Ibram X. Kendi, Congressman Jamie Raskin, World Champion medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt, soccer star Abby Womback, and other recognized advocates in the mental health field.
This year, together, we will explore intersecting ways we promote lived experience, advance health equity, and focus on the social determinants of mental health in our efforts to promote well-being, prevent illness, increase resilience, and foster recovery – all at population scale – with a focus on Next Gen Prevention.
Next Gen Prevention
Mental Health America has a long history of advocating for prevention and early intervention. At a time when over 50 million people live with a mental health condition, there is no more important moment for prevention than now. The MHA National Prevention and Screening program continually reminds us of this urgent need and the alarming rise of people experiencing anxiety, depression, psychosis, loneliness, and other mental health concerns. In addition to growing health crises, our country has faced widespread hopelessness, despair, and racial trauma, which have unequally affected Black, Indigenous, people of color, the LGBTQ+, and disability communities, and individuals with multiple marginalized identities.
Approximately 15,000 individuals each day are now coming to MHA to screen themselves for a mental health condition and seek support through our online screening program. Over 70% of these screeners are 24 or younger, and most are scoring at moderate to severe risk for a mental health condition. In addition, over half of youth ages 11-17 say they are thinking about suicide more than half the days of the week. We have a generation in peril who need our immediate attention.
At MHA we support people through the ebb and flow of wellness and illness. For some, the pandemic created new mental health and substance use concerns, for others it exacerbated existing mental health and substance use conditions. The future of mental health holds many new opportunities and technologies, and our conference is a chance to examine these issues more deeply.
At the 2023 Mental Health America Conference we will focus on:
- Youth and Young Adults: Creating solutions in partnership with young people.
- Social Determinants of Mental Health (SDOMH): Identifying, responding, and understanding the SDOMH and their impact on health equity.
- Continuum of Prevention: Promoting well-being, preventing illness, increasing resilience, and fostering recovery.
- Crisis Response: Responding to mental health crises and deaths of despair, 988 implementation, and new pathways in harm reduction.
- Recovery and Resilience: Promoting the role of peer support, substance use and recovery, the power of lived experience, and storytelling.
- Innovation: Exploring emerging trends in mental health treatment and well-being promotion, including digital mental health support, alternative therapies, the role of the metaverse, spirituality, and more.
Mental Health America was founded in 1909, by Clifford Beers, a Yale graduate and young businessman, after years of deplorable treatment in mental health institutions. This advocacy sparked a nationwide movement, and our logo tells the story of our founding goal of dignity, hope, and empowerment for all. This led to the movement in 1956 to collect the shackles that once bound individuals against their will in “asylums,” melt them down, and recast them into a sign of hope: the Mental Health Bell.
Now the symbol of Mental Health America, the 300-pound Mental Health Bell serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people with mental illnesses. Today, the Bell rings out hope for improving mental health and well-being of our nation. The Bell will open and close the start of our Annual Conference to remind us where we have been, how far we have come, and the need for continued hope, healing, and recovery for all.