SPRINGFIELD — Mental Health Assoc. Inc. (MHA) recognized Mental Health Awareness Month by hosting its eighth annual Power of Connection conference. The conference was hosted in-person after being virtual for the past three years. Marva Douglas, director of Residential Services, welcomed the opportunity to have attendees gathered together.
“There was an element that had been missing when we hosted the conference virtually,” she said. “Being in-person helped create a deeper sense of personal connection, and we saw higher levels of engagement.”
The conference featured motivational words and music stylings from keynote speaker Peter Babineau, director of Learn to Cope West, a peer-led support group for families dealing with addiction and recovery. Breakout sessions included “The Art of Connection: How to Engage Almost Anyone,” “Breaking Barriers, Building Connections,” “Hope: the Connection Within,” and “Self-Care for a Balanced Life.” These workshops provided helpful tools and resources that attendees can utilize in their daily professional and personal lives.
“This conference is an opportunity to share experiences and best practices related to mental health, both in the context of providing excellent services and as it affects all of us,” said Christine Palmieri, MHA’s vice president of Recovery and Housing. “We hope it is an opportunity for our staff to connect with one another, take a break from the day-to-day, and reconnect with what brought them to this work in the first place.”
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the U.S. since 1949. Every year in May, MHA joins the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month seeks to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support the millions of people in the U.S. affected by mental illness.