Our work is more important than ever, and I continue to be impressed by the incredible work substance use and mental health organizations do every day.
I have plenty of opportunity to be reminded of their creativity and commitment in community after community when I meet with National Council for Mental Wellbeing members.
When I joined the leadership of the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan earlier this month in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I was reminded of the central role community mental health boards play in making care accessible and accountable throughout the state.
A few weeks later, I visited with the board of a member organization in Yulee, Florida, and I was blown away by the breadth and depth of community partnerships this organization has with local hospitals, the sheriff’s department and so many other local agencies.
I know many of the 3,200 members of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing have similar stories.
In 2023, organizations providing mental health and substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services face many obstacles. They also have enormous opportunities.
As we prepare to gather for NatCon23, the biggest event in the field of mental health and substance use, we have designed a conference to address those two, starkly different realities. The conference will include learning and networking opportunities to help those in the field identify and overcome those challenges.
Many workshops and discussions are scheduled to address workforce development and talent management. Many other sessions will address Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) and the many opportunities that important model of care provides.
We also have workshops to address 988 and crisis response, suicide prevention, substance use treatment and recovery, trauma-informed care, integrated care, recovery supports and peer workers and many more issues that are top of mind. In all, we will have 150 educational sessions, including pre-conference sessions and an extensive Mental Health First Aid Summit.
In addition to providing learning and networking opportunities, the conference will celebrate the achievements of National Council members. The event will occur at a pivotal time when we convene May 1-3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. As we emerge from a brutal pandemic that took a toll on the wellbeing of so many people, our annual conference provides an opportunity to celebrate the amazing efforts of our heroic members, whose lifesaving work throughout the pandemic made a difference in the lives of millions of people.
The pandemic also took a toll on National Council members and others throughout the field. So, NatCon23 will provide an opportunity to acknowledge the services and sacrifices of the people we proudly call our members. It will provide an opportunity to shed light on the amazing work they do. It will include highlighting the work of our CCBHCs, a model of care that is transforming the delivery of mental health and substance use treatment.
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is the leading advocacy, training and leadership organization supporting those who provide substance use and mental health treatment. It stands to reason that NatCon23 is the leading conference in our field. So, as we prepare to hold just our second in-person conference since the pandemic, we have drawn from the experiences of our members and the rest of the field over the past three years to develop the most meaningful conference to date.
That’s significant because the work of those in our field is more important than ever.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that during the pandemic, more than 41 percent of Americans experienced symptoms of a depressive or anxiety disorder. According to provisional counts of reported deaths from the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System, more than 100,500 people in the United States died due to drug overdose in the 12-month period through September 2022.
Our priority must be to ensure that National Council members have the resources — the people, funding, technical resources and other supports — to meet the demand for services that began during the pandemic and will continue for years to come.
(he/him/his) President and CEO
National Council for Mental Wellbeing