Connection & Care: A Recap of NBA’s Mental Health Professionals Conference
At the beginning of October, NBA’s Mental Health & Wellness Program hosted its first hybrid Mental Health Professionals Conference for connection and care. This gathering brought together expert speakers and professionals focused on engaging the intersection of spirituality and mental health in their work as mental health professionals.
The goal of the event was twofold: 1) to provide a space for mental health professionals to learn best practices, and hear challenges, and ideas from one another and 2) to provide intentional time for rest and strengthening our community of Disciples mental health professionals.
To ensure this delicate balance of connection and care occurred, attendees were offered keynote presentations, workshops that centered topics of trauma and equity and inclusion in the mental health space, and downtime to fellowship, enjoy food, and practice yoga.
On day one of the conference, Dr. LaVerne Collins, a licensed counselor, trainer, and consultant gave a keynote presentation on the importance of understanding the impact of religious beliefs and practices on a person’s mental health. Her keynote was followed by an Equity Wellness Panel, that featured members of NBA’s Mental Health Equity Cohort. The panelists, Rev. Dr. Aizaiah Yong, Wes Parks, LPC, NCC, and Carolina Fuentes, LCSW focused their content on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities and how attendees can appropriately serve these communities. The day ended with a workshop on trauma in the church by Kinsie Tate, a member NBA’s 2023 Social Entrepreneurship Cohort and founder of Restore Clergy.
The second day of the conference was focused on wellness for participants and intentional self-care. The day began with a keynote from Janice McWilliams, MDiv, LCPC, a psychotherapist and certified spiritual director whose presentation focused on restorative self-care practices specifically for mental health professionals.
At the end of McWilliams’s presentation, participants were invited to lean fully into self-care, rest, and joy. There was to be no checking work emails or finishing up professional projects. Instead, Director of Mental Health and Wellness, Joselyn Spence, MDiv, LPC, ATR encouraged participants to journal, color, take a nap, go for a walk outside, or even spend time with one of the hired masseuse staff, who were made available for chair massages. Participants who joined virtually were encouraged to take the rest of the day to care for themselves as well.
Our Mental Health Professionals Conference will be back next year, stay tuned via our newsletter for a save the date and registration information. In the meantime, check out our mental health resources at NBAcares.org/MH-Resources.