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Tuesday, June 07, 2022
11:00 AM-2:30 PM Eastern

2022 Policy Institute: A Bi-Directional Approach to Bring Together Public Health and Mental Health


When the national public health emergency declaration was initiated, policymakers acted quickly to support states in informing the public, preventing and reducing transmission of COVID-19, supporting access to health care, and to remedy financial and economic fallout. It became clear that as physical and surgical health needs were being met with policy flexibility and funding, many of the mental health needs in families and communities were not met with a necessary increase in funding and flexibility. In many ways, mental health and mental illness were thought about by public health agencies as an afterthought, even though there was early evidence of great mental needs in the frontline workforce and data showing increases in substance use, telemental health visits, and emergency room visits for youth in crisis. 

Among public health stakeholder discussions, there is an acknowledgment that mental health professional services and supports are not fully embedded into the public health system. There is also limited awareness of how the mental health system, as strained as it is, successfully engages with public health. Through six sessions over a three-hour virtual meeting, Mental Health America’s National Policy Institute will inform policymakers and other stakeholders about: 

  • How federal agencies can better work together to support public mental health, and what data collection and data analysis contribute to responding to crises, 
  • What missing components of a robust public mental health workforce should be employed that other countries use,
  • What is needed to ensure key messages from public health officials are aligned and effective,
  • What structural support is needed to build and sustain a strong equitable public workforce that includes behavioral health professionals and paraprofessionals,
  • How financing should be modeled to support better public mental health, and what prevention research has emerged on mental health,
  • What community-based models promoting mental wellness should be funded and integrated, and;
  • How young leaders have led changes in local, state, and federal government to better meet rising youth mental health needs.

MHA’s National Policy Institute will also recognize a young person for their dedication to advocacy over the last year with the 2022 Youth Advocacy Award.



A Bi-Directional Approach to Bring Together Public Health and Mental Health

June 7, 2022, at 11:00 am - 2:30 pm Eastern Time (UTC/GMT -06:00)

Speaker names will be added to the agenda as confirmed.





11:00 am - 11:15 am 

Opening and Welcome Remarks

Caren Howard, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mental Health America 

Schroeder Stribling, President and CEO, Mental Health America

Don Mordecai, National Leader for Mental Health and Wellness, Kaiser Permanente

11:15 am - 11:50 am 

Question and Answer on CDC and SAMHSA’s Approach to Prevention in Public and Mental Health

Chris Jones, Acting Director for the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Anita Everett, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)

Moderated by: Theresa Nguyen, Vice President of Research and Innovation, Mental Health America

11:50 am - 12:20 pm

Panel 1: Investments for an Equitable Public Mental Health Workforce

Vail Smith, USMC Veteran 
Peer Support Specialist Instructor & Mentor

Vikram Patel, PhD, Professor inthe Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School

Yesenia Anaya, Lived Experience Leader, FosterClub

Gloria Leiva, Promotora, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Moderated by: Keris Myrick, Co-Director, S2i the Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative

12:20 pm - 12:25 pm

Youth Voice 

Catherine Delgado, Co-Founder, Student Wellness Education And Resources (SWEAR) Committee, San Diego Unified School District

12:25 pm - 12:30 pm


12:30 pm - 12:35 pm

Remarks on Public Workforce Issues and Messaging

Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

12:35 pm - 12:45 pm


Mighty Fine, Director, Center for Public Health Practice and Professional Development Director, Center for Public Health Practice and Professional Development American Public Health Association

Watch Mighty Fine speak on the basics of public health here!

12:45 pm - 1:10 pm

Panel 2: Mental Health and Stress Within the Public Workforce

Jeanne Alongi, National Association of Chronic Disease and Disorders

Arpan Waghray, MD, AHA Behavioral Health Chair, Providence Health System

Lorena Roth, LCSW, Senior Director, National Mental Health and Wellness at Kaiser Permanente

Amber Norris Williams, Senior Vice President, Leadership & Organizational Performance, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Moderated by: Reyna Taylor, Vice President for Public Policy, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

1:10 pm - 1:15 pm


1:15 pm - 1:35 pm

Fireside Chat on Prevention Financing and Research

Ben Miller, President, Well Being Trust

Tom Insel, Board Member, Steinberg Institute

Moderated by: Mary Giliberti, Chief Public Policy Officer, Mental Health America

1:35 pm - 1:40 pm

Youth Voice

Youth Empowerment Speaker

To Be Announced

1:40 pm - 2:05 pm

Panel 3: Integrating Mental Health in the Community, Schools, and Primary Care

Paul Jaquith, Executive Director for MHA Southeast Florida

Ysabel Garcia, Founder, Estoy Aqui

Matthew Press, MD, MSc, Medical Director, Primary Care Service Line at Penn Medicine

Kelly Davis, Associate Vice President of Peer and Youth Advocacy, Mental Health America

Moderated by: Caren Howard, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mental Health America

2:05 pm - 2:10 pm

2022 Youth Advocacy Awards

Award Winners: Sriya Chilla of San Diego, CA & Nghia Do of Anaheim, CA

Presented by: Kelly Davis, Associate Vice President of Peer and Youth Advocacy, Mental Health America

2:10 pm - 2:25 pm

Closing Thoughts

Caren Howard, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mental Health America

Sydney Daniello, Public Policy Manager of Projects and Events, Mental Health America



Those interested in learning more about some of the topics that will be discussed at MHA's 2022 Policy Institute can view the video above on Mental Health and Wellbeing in Public Health and Health Care, presented by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

About Mental Health America

Mental Health America (MHA) - founded in 1909 - is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need it; with recovery as the goal.

Questions about the Policy Institute?

Contact MHA's Director of Policy and Advocacy, Caren Howard, at or MHA’s Public Policy Manager of Projects and Events, Sydney Daniello, at

Past meetings

Watch the 2021 Policy Institute: Addressing Youth Mental Health Needs in Schools

Watch the 2020 Policy Institute Moving Upstream: Prevention and Early Intervention

View the 2019 Agenda: Supporting Digital Innovation in Behavioral Health