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Joy Burwell

Director of Communications, National Council for Behavioral Health

Q&A with the #NatCon17 Twitter Ambassadors

April 1, 2017 | Community Impact | Comments
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Take a few minutes and get to know our Twitter Ambassadors. They will help you experience all of #NatCon17, sharing their unique perspectives within the behavioral health space and giving you an insider’s view of some of our 20 tracks, thought leader sessions, the film festival and more. Subscribe to the official #NatCon17 Twitter Ambassador list to follow them. Be part of the Tweet team, join the conversation on Twitter — use #NatCon17 and #BH365.

Name: Sean Erreger
Hometown: Saratoga Springs, NY
Twitter Handle: @stuckonsw
Attended NatCon: 1 time

What about the conference are you most looking forward to? 

I have such a variety of interests in behavioral health and health care. NatCon has a ton to offer which is both a good and a bad thing. The larger General sessions often take some the guesswork out as they attract such amazing guests. I look forward to seeing the “Mental Health State of The Union”.  It’s often hard to choose between the smaller sessions but look forward to looking at technology and program development sessions. I also enjoy spending time in the exhibit hall learning about various innovations.

What track will you be covering?

Technology. I love hearing success stories (and even the potential bumps in the road) of organizations implementing technology to improve care. Especially those often under-served that technology helped reach.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

This is tough…on the clinical level I am interested in understanding burnout and compassion fatigue.  I am also active both in suicide prevention in local community and social media.  As mentioned I am also passionate about understanding the applications of technology for clinical care and social media as a means for advocacy.

What is a live tweeting piece of advice/guidance for attendees new to Twitter?

What I recommend is just share what excites you:  A slide in a presentation, a vendor booth you thought was really cool, a quote from a presenter that made you think differently.  Also, be sure to use the hashtag… #NatCon17 🙂

What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t tweeting?

I enjoy spending time with family. I have two boys 4 and 8 years old that keep me pretty busy. When I can tear myself away from work, family, and social media; I enjoy kayaking.

Name: Bart Andrews
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Twitter Handle: @bartandrews
Attended NatCon: 5 times

What about the conference are you most looking forward to?

Ummm, ok, this is EASY. Everything. It is the Show of Shows when it comes to behavioral health conferences and asking me to choose a favorite is like asking me to choose between one of my dogs (ok, I do love Rolo the most and none of them read so I think I am safe).  If you made me (and clearly you are) I would say I am most looking forward to Judy Collins’ Thought Leader Session. Sweet Judy Blue Eyes is a song that reflects a lot of my own experiences as both a recipient and provider of therapeutic services and hearing her talk, in person, about her own experiences, will be a highlight for me.

What track will you be covering?

Crisis Track because it is the BEST track.  Crisis services are implementing some of the most innovative and impactful changes to our service delivery system.  Integrating crisis services into all the other services has the potential to start bending the needle in both better care and reducing suicide.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I have dedicated the last 18 years of my life to suicide prevention. I am a psychologist, an executive at a behavioral health company, a suicide intervention trainer of trainers AND a suicide attempt survivor. Far from being a dark and dreary topic, I believe that study of the prevention of suicide is what is most elucidating about life.  As we learn about suicide, we learn about what are the most important elements of LIVING. It is time we moved away from stopping suicide or just removing symptoms and started moving towards wellness and creating lives worth living. That excites me.

What is a live tweeting piece of advice/guidance for attendees new to Twitter?

Have fun!  Don’t be self-conscious, reply to folks who are engaging and ride the wave. Your tweets do not need to be perfect and you will have more fun tweeting your own personal reactions to key events, taking pics of people you meet and tossing out cool thoughts into the Twitterverse than trying to painstakingly tweet out all the content. As my mentor and colleague @docforeman says “Find what’s sticky and TWEET THAT”.

What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t tweeting?

I write poetry, read and think about what to tweet. Oh, I spend time with my family. Crap, almost forgot that. Love them, gawd, I really do

Name: Ryann Tanap
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Twitter Handle: @mamatanap
Attended NatCon: 0 times (this will be my first time)

What about the conference are you most looking forward to?

I am thrilled to connect with other dedicated behavioral health professionals and advocates. It’s an honor to be part of such a convening of individuals.

What track will you be covering? 

I am very excited to cover the Film Festival this year. The arts can be a wonderful introduction or conversation starter for those unfamiliar with behavioral health.

What are you most passionate about? Why? 

Suicide prevention is something very important to me. As someone who has lost close friends to suicide over the years, I now encourage others to talk about mental health and to not be afraid to seek help. It’s important to be both well-educated and vocal about what you care about so that people see you as a resource.

What is a live tweeting piece of advice/guidance for attendees new to Twitter? 

As opposed to tweeting word for word, focus on the big picture of the event session, speaker, etc. Listen for key takeaways that you think will be informative and/or inspirational to your followers. Tweets only have a lifespan of about 18 minutes, so focus on sharing quality content.

What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t tweeting? 

I grew up always immersed in creative and performing arts. These days, I paint, crochet, read, write poetry and prose, and perform spoken word. Additionally, I’m always on the lookout for tickets to plays, musical theater and concerts. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend checking out “Next to Normal” – a musical about a woman living with bipolar disorder.

Name: Bryan Wempen
Hometown: Sumner, Nebraska
Twitter Handle: @bryanwempen
Attended NatCon: 0 times

What about the conference are you most looking forward to?

Meeting people from around all-over (geographically) who changing and saving lives.

What track will you be covering?

Addictions

What are you most passionate about? Why? 

My journey with Self-awareness. I’m passionate about gratitude. I wake up each morning and meditate about on being a participant in my life as this wasn’t always the case. Covering the Addictions track is my opportunity to share conversations about recovery, loss, gratitude, connection, and much more via Twitter with people around the world.

What is a live tweeting piece of advice/guidance for attendees new to Twitter?

Be patient, it takes a little bit of practice and time to figure out the best way for you to share what matters to “you”.  Remember, this is Twitter not transcription, put it in your own words.

What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t tweeting?

I hang-out with Michella my wonderful wife, learning to cook (better) and started writing my 3rd book.

Name: Natasha West
Hometown: Charleston, West Virginia
Twitter Handle: @StampStigma
Attended NatCon: 1 time (this is my second!)

What about the conference are you most looking forward to?

My favorite part about NatCon is the people that you meet. There are so many interesting people that attend this conference and I love every second of it. Being able to have conversations with some of the most influential people in the behavioral health field is incredibly inspiring. It’s also wonderful to be surrounded by people who are share the same passion and interests as you.

What track will you be covering?

Living Your Life Well is the main track I will be covering, but I’m looking forward to checking out additional tracks such as Population Health. I will also be speaking at the “How We Do Social: Harnessing the Power of Social Media” session that is a part of the Marketing and Branding track.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

Education and sharing your story. I strongly believe that sharing your story and educating others helps to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders. Stamp Out Stigma, an initiative spearheaded by the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, has implemented the “Three Rs,” which stands for recognize, reeducate and reduce. First, we must recognize the high prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders; then reeducate ourselves, friends and family on the truths of mental illness and addiction. When we do this, we can reduce the stigma.

What is a live tweeting piece of advice/guidance for attendees new to Twitter?

There is a lot of preparation when live-tweeting an event. My best piece of advice would be to figure out what sessions you will be attending and try to find Twitter handles and related hashtags beforehand. Luckily National Council has made this incredibly easy by developing an interactive app for NatCon. The app provides information on who is speaking, what the sessions are about, and it even allows you to develop a personalized schedule for the conference.

What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t tweeting?

When I’m not tweeting, I’m usually hanging out with my cat, Khaleesi. I have also started to pick up running again and will hopefully be running my second marathon this October in Detroit. I’ve also started to get more involved in video editing and photography, so Adobe Creative Cloud has been my best friend for the past few months.

Name: Sally Spencer-Thomas
Hometown: Born and raised in Connecticut but a Coloradan in my soul. Currently living in Conifer, CO
Twitter Handle: @sspencerthomas
Attended NatCon: 3 times

What about the conference are you most looking forward to?

I come to be inspired. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. So I look forward to our conversations: “Why are you interested in this work? What brought you here and what makes you tick?”

For these reasons I also love the Ted Talks, films and general sessions. You’ll probably find me hanging out during breaks with the fun crew at the LIVIN exhibit.

What track will you be covering?

I will mostly be focused on the sessions about suicide prevention, but I’m also interested in Peers, Prevention and Recovery.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am a psychologist, faculty member, and mental health advocate, and my passion is fueled by the tragedy of losing my brother to suicide 12 years ago. I am on a mission to find bold, gap-filling ways to prevent what happened to Carson from happening to other people. In this journey I have found the suicide attempt survivor community to be incredible partners with loss survivors, and I look forward to how we can harness our collective energy to build an army in the war against suicide.

What is a live tweeting piece of advice/guidance for attendees new to Twitter?

Go for it! Inject your personality into your posts. Take pictures. Share your opinions. Don’t be afraid to sprinkle in a bit of humor. Finally, loop other partners, organizations, influencers and communities into our conversations so we can #ElevateTheConvo more broadly than just the conference.

What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t tweeting?

Raise my three boys – Nicholas (18), Tanner (16) and Jackson (12) – and play with my dogs Rocky and Apache. I also have a strange habit of running long distances incredibly slowly. I am trying to do a marathon in all 50 states. I love chillaxin’ in the beautiful Rocky Mountains – this is my top wellbeing practice