Day Two at Mental Health America’s 2022 Annual Conference, Forward Together: Recovery, Healing, Hope


Fri, 06/10/2022 – 22:53

Bassey Ikpi, New York Times bestselling author of “I’m Telling The Truth But I’m Lying,” discussed writing her book and the moment she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. “So many of the books I’ve read about mental illness, and specifically Black mental illness, were statistic-based…It didn’t feel like anything and I wanted people to feel it,” she said. 

“One of the things I had the most difficult time with was not knowing who I was,” she said of her experience after being diagnosed. She was suddenly unsure of her true personality. 

Ikpi also recognized and thanked the mental health professionals and advocates in attendance: “I wanted to be here because of the role mental health professionals have played in my life. It is because of them that I am here…You are saving so many lives in ways that I hope you understand…what you do has saved me more times than I can count.”

Four of MHA’s Young Mental Health Leaders, Breanna Kennedy, Mahmoud Khedr, Melanie Zhou, and Catherine Delgado took the stage for a conversation with AVP of Peer and Youth Advocacy, Kelly Davis. The young leaders spoke about the experience of being told by adults that as a young person, your problems are small. “Kids just want to be listened to,” said Breanna Kennedy.  

Mahmoud Khedr emphasized the need for finding out why young people are experiencing unprecedented anxiety and called for systemic change. “If we’re not looking at the underlying causes and what is causing that stress, than we’re going to fail them,” he said. 

Kelly Davis presented MHA’s 2022 mPower award to Sam Gerry. The mPower award celebrates the life and work of a teen or young adult who has spoken out about mental health issues to educate his or her peers and fight stigma. Sam is a 20-year-old rising junior at Bates College and the co-founder of Kick It for a Cause, Inc., a charity kickball tournament-turned-nonprofit organization supporting suicide prevention.

MHA’s 2022 George Goodman Brudney and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award was presented to Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW. The award recognizes significant contributions made to the care and treatment of people living with mental illnesses by practicing professionals in the field of social work. Freedenthal accepted the award in person and spoke about how for decades she hid her own depression and suicidal ideation. ”I was afraid the stigma of mental illness would harm my career as a mental health professional,” she said. Freedenthal said that ultimately she chose to share her lived experience to help people who still must hide their mental illness and who still have a lot to lose.

MHA’s 2022 Richard Van Horn Innovation in Programming Award was presented to the Mental Health Association in New Jersey for the New Jersey Mental Health Players program. The award recognizes the continuing innovation and creativity of an MHA affiliate in program development and implementation. Lynette Sheard accepted the award in person and told the audience: “Let’s inspire creativity. Let’s be brave. Let’s fight in the open. Let’s stay well…don’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm, let self-care be your superpower.” 

MHA’s 2022 Betty Humphrey Equity Champion Award was presented to Open Paths Counseling Center. The award is given to an individual or organization for demonstrating an ongoing commitment to the fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Sierra Smith accepted the award on behalf of Open Paths Counseling Center, which has been at the forefront of serving low-income clients and communities in Los Angeles for over 40 years. In her acceptance speech, Sierra recalled that when she started at Open Paths in 2016, the therapists that the center was training came primarily from Los Angeles’ more affluent communities. She noticed a disconnect. “We had to pivot,” she said, and she led the shift toward bringing in clinicians who were representative of the communities that the center served. 

MHA’s 2022 Joseph de Raismes III Policy Award was presented to Cynthia Wainscott. The award honors an individual who – like Raismes – makes outstanding contributions to furthering mental health policy. In her acceptance speech, Wainscott spoke about her inspiration to continue being a mental health advocate. She said her inspiration comes from two things: an impactful day volunteering at Central State Hospital in Georgia and her experience with intergenerational family mental illness. 

MHA’s 2022 Media Awards were presented to journalists Lindsay Holmes and Catherine Pearson for their article, “If You Have A Mood Disorder, You May Now Be Eligible For A COVID Booster”; to the WBIR Newsroom and Production Team for WBIR’s Mental Health Monday; and to Well Beings & Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness.

Lindsay Holmes accepted the award virtually noting that, “The pandemic has only underscored the fact that mental health is health.”

Emily Wakefield and Katie Inman accepted for WBIR. “It’s not about how pretty our shots were or how well-crafted our research, it’s about making a difference in our community,” said Wakefield. 

Christopher Ewers was part of the group accepting for Well Beings and Hiding in Plain Sight. “I don’t think there’s a single human being on the planet who is not directly or indirectly affected by mental health challenges…it is time we start talking about it,” he said. 

MHA VP of Partnerships and Community Outreach Dr. America Paredes led a breakout session on language, culture, and mental health literacy. “There’s a lack of culturally and linguistically relevant, responsive providers and treatment options,” she said, “Language is not the main issue. It’s one of the issues. At the end of the day, it’s about seeking out people who understand your culture.”

Rita Sitney of the U.S. Army led a breakout session on music as a coping strategy to reduce stress during COVID-19. “If you’re listening to the right music, it can help you get to a neutral, calm state where your well-being improves,” she said, “We saw yesterday how music has an impact. What Andy Grammer did was take his emotions and thoughts and use them to communicate and connect with people around him.”

Wendell Potter of the Center for Health and Democracy co-led a breakout session on breaking down the insurance barrier to equitable mental health care. “You have to become a squeaky wheel,” he said, “You have to take your case to someone who can be an advocate for you – a doctor, lawyer, or member of the media.”

Donta Gee of NAMI co-led a breakout session on the pandemic and poetry. “When we share in these spaces, I can say one, you’re not alone, and I can leave knowing I’m not alone,” she said.

Pierluigi Mancini, MHA Board Chair-elect and President of the Multicultural Development Institute, Inc. led a breakout session on Latino Mental Health. “Equality only works when everyone starts in the same place,” he said. 


The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will house a “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center, that will provide case management, mental health community advocacy, and oversight from the M.I. Mother’s Keeper mental health advocates. 
The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will offer patrons access to immediate coverage by general surgeons as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.
Our goal is to help people in the best way possible in an effort to preserve and to save more lives in the Nation’s Capital and beyond.

Follow Capital City Emergency Trauma & Wellness Center's success:

Sign up to receive updates


Code Red
Gunshot Victim
Life Threatening Wounds
Physical Assault Victim
Severely Injured Auto Accident Victim
Burn Victim
Choking & Breathing Obstructions
and more…


Child Sex Assault Victim
Domestic Violence Victim
Drug Overdose
Rape/Sex Crime Victim
Suicide Watch
Trafficking Victim
Nervous Breakdown
and more…

Mental Health

At Capital City Emergency Trauma & Wellness Center patrons with mental health emergencies that include life threatening situations in which an individual is imminently threatening harm to self or others, severely disoriented or out of touch with reality, has a severe inability to function or is otherwise distraught and out of control, will have access to quality and psychiatric emergency services and referrals.

Physical Health

Whether your life threatening medical emergency involves excessive or uncontrollable bleeding, head injury. difficulty with breathing, severe pain, heart attack, vision impairments, stroke, physically collapsing, or seizure related, rest assured that our professionals will properly assess and evaluate the level of response that will be most needed to help provide stabilized care solutions and minimize complications as well as reduce early mortality.

Holistic Healthcare

We offer healthcare solutions that will support the whole person which includes their physical, psychological, emotional, social, & spiritual wellbeing. Research supports that because your mental state can affect your overall health we support and offer the inclusion of complimentary and alternative medicine(CAM) practitioners and naturopathic doctor recommendations and referrals as a part of our Outreach Community Resource Center’s care regimen and support.


Emergency care can typically result in traumatic injuries for which rehabilitation becomes an essential component of care in trying to achieve the best long-term outcomes for the patient. In addition to speeding up recovery times and helping to prevent further complications, rehabilitative care also helps to support a patient’s self-managed recovery once discharged from our facility. Our Outreach Community Resource Center works closely with our trauma center’s discharge department to assure that patrons requiring these services are linked with qualified professionals who will be accountable to the standard of care required to help the patron be successful in their recovery.

Social Services

Our “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center intends to promote “expansive” beneficial community enriching services, programs, case management, & linkage to “approved” partner resources and supports in all of the following intended areas and more:

Social Services

  • Clothing
  • Food Pantry
  • Housing/Shelter
  • I.D. Credentials
  • Senior Wellness Check
  • Toiletries
  • Transportation
  • Etc.

Extended Family Services

  • Child Care
  • Credit Counseling
  • Family Court Services
  • Legal Aide

Career Training

  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Computer/Graphics Training
  • Culinary Program  
  • GED Courses
  • Hospitality Training
  • Job Etiquette & Grooming
  • Resume’ Prep
  • Sales Training
  • Software/Technology workshops
  • Small Business Training

Return Citizen
Program Partner
(Bridging the Gap)

  • Case Management
  • Temporary Boarding/Housing
  • Transitional Program Registration

Prevention/Intervention Outreach,
Workshops, & Programs

  • After-school Behavioral Health Program
  • Civic Engagement / Volunteer Sign-up
  • Fatherhood Rites of Passage
  • Gun Violence Town Hall Forum
  • Life Coaching & Coping Strategies
  • Marriage Counseling Workshops
  • Medicare Informational Workshops
  • Mentorship Training
  • Parental Classes
  • Support Groups
  • Town Hall Discussions
  • Violence De-Escalation Training
  • Voter Registration

Nutritional Outreach

  • Cooking Demonstrations
  • Dietary Programs
  • Exercise Classes
  • Recipe Sharing Workshops
  • Meal Prep

Community Outreach

The Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition is partnering with the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health advocacy organization to provide outreach services on the community level as an aid in reducing the existent health inequities that many District citizens are facing as a direct result of the presence of debilitating social determinants and the lack of culturally appropriate care choices and realities for community members residing in marginalized and lower-income communities.

It is the vision and intentions of the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health Advocates organization to help improve the quality of living for citizens living in our Nation’s Capital and beyond by overseeing the delicate linkage to services and by maintaining higher standards of care accountability for deserving citizens of the Nation’s Capital.

For more information or to enroll as one of our service providers, please email us at: