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The National Council Team

NatCon19: Monday

March 25, 2019 | NatCon | Comments
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Welcome to NatCon19.

Whether you’re here with us in Nashville or following the conference at home or from work, we’re glad you’re here.

During NatCon, join us here at BH365 for the highlights. We’ll be adding new information all day, so keep visiting us. You’ll always find something new.

Parting Thoughts

Linda Rosenberg

For 15 years, Linda Rosenberg guided the National Council with wisdom, grace and innovation. This morning, she took center stage for the last time as president and CEO.

How do you sum up 15 years of vision, leadership and advocacy in 45 minutes? As the roar of a standing ovation faded, Linda Rosenberg turned to the gentle wisdom of Winnie the Pooh.

She spoke with gratitude as she recalled the highlights of her tenure leading the National Council and with affection and admiration for those she has worked with.

“We’ve passed legislation. We’ve changed practice. We’ve saved lives. All the while, we’ve been kind to one another. We’ve shared our challenges and our successes. We’ve given a leg up and had a hand outstretched.”

We face challenges in the years ahead and we have never backed away from a challenge – we know that the stakes are too high. Linda called on us all to have a bias toward action, to stay deeply engaged with the world and to make things better.

“As I step down from the National Council, I’m not setting down my mantle,” she concluded, “This work is too important to me, to the people we serve, and to the nation … I will continue the fight for effective, respectful care for ALL people with mental illnesses and addictions.”

The Future of Health Care

A Conversation with Dr. Atul Gawande

Dr. Atul Gawande is driven by a fundamental question: How do we fix health care systems to deliver better care for every person everywhere? The first step is simple: ask people what their priorities are.

He told about a study that split patients with a terminal cancer diagnosis two groups – one received the usual oncology treatment, and one received oncology treatment plus regular visits with a palliative care clinician.

The patients who saw the palliative care clinician were half as likely to still be on chemotherapy two months before the end of their lives. They also suffered less, had better physical and mental conditions and lived 25 percent longer than patients in the other group.

Instead of focusing on how patients could live longer and giving prescriptive advice, the clinicians asked patients what their goals for their quality of life were and helped them achieve those goals.

“Our purpose is to enable well-being, even in the face of [chronic] conditions,” Dr. Gawande said. And it all starts with prioritizing the quality of instead of quantity of a patient’s life.

Safe Consumption Spaces: Community Strategies

Joe Pyle, MA
Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation

Vitka Eisen, MSW, EdD
HealthRIGHT 360

Tom Hill, MSW
National Council for Behavioral Health

Safe consumption spaces are common in Canada and Europe. There is overwhelming evidence that they can be effective in reducing new HIV infections, overdose deaths and public nuisance – and that they do not increase drug use or criminal activity.

Proposals are pending to create safe consumption sites in Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle and other cities, but there are none active in the U.S.

Why hasn’t the U.S. embraced this promising concept? “I believe there is a moral imperative for us to figure out how can we can have many overdose prevention sites across the country,” said Joe Pyle.

Don’t miss visiting the Safe Shape Exhibit at Delta BCD Lobby, Level 2. This traveling exhibit operates as a mock drug consumption room (DCR). Learn more about the philosophy and practice of harm reduction.

Meet two of the developers for a Q&A Session on Wednesday from 9-10 a.m. at Canal E, Level M.

Ted-Style Talks

Solutions to Our Addictions Crisis
Johann Hari

A Smarter Health System: Paving the Road to Recovery
Danielle Schlosser

Addiction: Facts from Comforting Fictions
Sally Satel, MD

TED-style talks are personal, concise and challenge your perceptions – all in 18 minutes or less. If one speaker can have that much impact, imagine what three of them can do! We found out at today’s second General Session, in which every speaker challenged us to consider addictions from a different angle.

In the first talk we heard from Johann Hari, bestselling author of “Chasing the Scream,” on rethinking our internal scripts about how addiction develops. Over the course of his research for the book, he visited countries with a range of drug policies. Through this, he found that he had profoundly misunderstood addiction.

“If we want to understand why so many people are using so many painkillers, we’ve got to start understanding why people are in so much pain,” he said. “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”

The core of addiction is often not wanting to be present in your life. Since pain is a driver of addiction, Hari encourages compassionate policies and understanding for individuals struggling with an addiction instead of punitive punishment, using Switzerland’s policies as a model

Technology has changed our expectations in retail and transportation. How can we apply this logic to addictions?

In the second session, Danielle Schlosser provided an intriguing example of how technological innovation can be used in treating addiction. OneFifteen, a state-of-the-art facility being built in Dayton, Ohio, by Verily and community partners is a new response to the national opioid crisis. This tech-enabled facility will include a variety of services that are critical for long-term recovery.

Schlosser encouraged the field to challenge our assumptions about addiction:  “There are too many gaps in our knowledge,” she said. “And too many people are falling through them.”

Finally, we heard from Dr. Sally Satel about shattering commonly held, yet incorrect beliefs about addiction.

Why is it important what we believe? Because, Dr. Satel says, without a realistic view of the nature of addiction, we can’t craft good policies and treatment. And people are literally dying for our help.

How to Be Happy

Laurie Santos, PhD

A happiness class taught by Dr. Laurie Santos, professor of psychology and expert on human cognition, is the most popular lecture in Yale University’s history. Over the course of her TED-style talk, Dr. Santos shared tips from her course that anyone can use.

We have more control over our happiness than we think. About half of our happiness is determined by our genes, about 10 percent by our environment and about 40 percent is within our control.

Despite common expectations, money can only provide so much happiness. After $75,000, annual salary no longer correlated with happiness, depression or stress. In fact, altruistically spending money on others and spending time building social connections are a more worthwhile use of your time.

Finally, if you feel grateful, write it down. Listing three-to-five things you’re grateful for daily for two weeks has been shown to statistically improve happiness.

“If you really want to change your life, you have to put the work in,” Dr. Santos said.