Editor's Note: I had the opportunity to meet board members from a number of behavioral health organizations at the recent National Council conference in San Diego and was interested in hearing what they had to say. When, at the end of a busy lunchtime conversation, I invited Carmen Reagan, Ed.D. to share more about her views on the state of behavioral health, this board member from Centerstone of Tennessee took me up on the offer.
Bright Lights and Bold Ideas at the 2013 National Council Conference
By Carmen Reagan, Centerstone of Tennessee Board Member
When I shared that I was going with Centerstone staff to Las Vegas to attend a conference, everyone immediately told me of the shows to attend and how to win at the casinos. So I felt fully prepared for my trip to “Fabulous Las Vegas.” Believe it or not, I did not see one show and only walked through the casinos while on my way to dinner. All through the day, I discovered new ideas, met passionate, creative, and caring people, and became emotionally charged with the enlightening presentations and discussions. No need to seek entertainment as each day the opening sessions included talented performers to wake us up with laughter, song, and the wonderful sound of music. What follows are highlights from lessons I learned about innovative ideas and trends in behavioral health.
The quest for parity continues.The first stop of each day began with two plenaries. In the first plenary, Linda Rosenberg, thought leader and President/CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, provided a review of the major changes during the past fifty years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act in 1963. Although I have served on the board of Centerstone for many years, it was insightful to learn more about the changes over time and the future directions of this field with more emphasis on “community” and “mental health first aid,” per changes in healthcare reform. On the last day, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy shared his personal struggle with addiction and his fight for mental health parity and brain research. Although President Bush signed the Mental Health Parity Act in 2008 that Kennedy co-sponsored, Kennedy very passionately argued that much more work needs to be done to assure that parity actually occurs.