Mental Health Awareness Month: Overcoming Stigma & Increasing Support

Mental Health Awareness Month: Overcoming Stigma & Increasing Support

The Mental Health and Wellness Program of the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) prioritizes mental health justice and wellness equity for the upliftment of all people. This webinar features guest panelists giving key information on mental health topics not always discussed or understood such as suicide, the usage of medication, and ways we all can be aware of the mental health needs of our congregations and communities.  

Click here to watch the webinar!

Meet our Panelists

Joselyn Spence serves as the Director of the NBA’s Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. In this role, Joselyn works to design and implement programs that promote holistic wellness across all NBA programs. This work is done through the creation of learning resources for clergy and community leaders, addressing the needs of pastors in a variety of ministry settings, sharing the stories that help to eliminate stigmas related to mental health and wellness. She is passionate about mental health care, holistic wellness, communal care ethics, and spirituality. As a holistic wellness specialist, she has worked at the intersection of these passions to develop research and provide empathic care to all she is called to serve.

Dr. Chad Vickers is a dual certified advanced practice registered nurse, specializing in psychiatric-mental health and family practice.  Having been a nurse practitioner since 2006, he has worked in a variety of settings, to include both inpatient and outpatient settings as well as a psychiatric emergency room.  He has experience in treating people of all ages as well as managing a variety of complex psychiatric diagnoses.  In addition to his training as a nurse practitioner, Chad has an earned PhD in Health Studies with an emphasis on population health.  He has served as faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Texas Health Science Center and on the board of directors of the Acclaim Physician Group of John Peter Smith Hospital Network.  He has previous recognitions as the John Peter Smith Hospital Network Department of Psychiatry Advanced Practice Provider of the Year as well as the D Magazine Excellence in Nursing award.  Outside of his clinical practice, Chad is active in his community, serving as the Secretary on the Board of Trustees for the city library as well as the co-chair of his church’s Outreach Committee.     

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Denisse C. Lamas, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Florida. For the past few years, Mrs. Lamas has been an active advocate in the field of suicide prevention. She served as the President of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Central Florida Chapter and was a member of the National Board for the same organization from 2020 to 2023. Currently, Denisse is in the AFSP Leadership Council Diversity Workgroup Chair and she is the founder of the AFSP Puerto Rico Chapter. In February 2023, Mrs. Lamas became certified as a #SoulShop™ Trainer, an interactive workshop that equips faith community leaders and other people of faith to prepare their congregations to minister to those affected by suicidal despair. Throughout the years, Mrs. Lamas has received several awards and recognitions. In 2012, Mrs. Lamas followed her dream and created Hispanic Family Counseling Inc. where today, she serves as the CEO for the agency. Currently, Mrs. Lamas is working on obtaining her Doctorate in Social Work at Walden University. She is a founder and has been an active member of Iglesia Cristiana Hispana (Discípulos de Cristo) – North Orlando since 1996.  

Rev. Alexis Lillie serves as the Associate Pastor at Church of the Village in New York City where she is passionate about viewing the subversive life of Jesus as a blueprint for the systems-inverting work of justice today. She graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 2014 with a Master of Divinity degree and is ordained with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In addition to prior pastoral roles across diverse faith communities, Alexis was an adjunct professor of Hebrew Bible, and a Chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. Alexis is also a trained Mental Health First Aid instructor. Her “first career” in Journalism and Marketing continues to inform her ministry in the digital age.