Mental Health, Mental Illness, on Block Island

advocating for services and support for those who are ill and education for mental health to all on Block Island

2019 Spring Conference Review

The 2019 Mental Health Month Spring Conference:  Children and Teens: Won’t they just grow out of it? was held at the Island Free Library on the evening of Friday May 17 and Saturday May 18. [program here]

As always, the events were open to all, residents and visitors, and over thirty people attended the five sessions. There was also a pre-conference meeting with Liz Jorgensen, held at BI School for grades 7 – 12 on Thursday, May 16.

I learned so much: I am so grateful to all who took part, especially our speakers, with their generous sharing and terrific presentations. Jim Hinthorn [NAMI BI president] says:

The conference was a big success – the Ted talk was a great lead off on Friday night and all three speakers on Saturday hit the ball out of the park with their presentations.  Marguerite did an excellent job moderating the Community Round Table and all the participants had meaningful things to share with the audience.

Agree, and for those who were not able to come, we can share the TED talk, the pdf versions of information, and speaker biographies. Scroll or jump to the links.

We are also grateful to the Island Free Library for the venue, and to the Friends of the Library for providing refreshments, breakfast and lunch.

TED talk, Charisse Nixon: What Adolescents Need to Thrive, discussion facilitated by Elspeth Crawford – really worth watching, lively comments and experiences shared. Major point made was the value of connection, and how adults enable this by modeling empathy, gratitude, forgiveness and humility. But, these are just words, like all TED talks there is a level of “generality”, so watch, then like our discussants you can think about the people young and old that we know, wonder what fits and who is “at the edge of the Bell Curve“. Thank you to Morgan Walsh, Mary Anderson, Pat Tengwall and everyone else who contributed.

Jeffrey Hunt, MD:  Hot topics in Children’s Mental Health. What do we know about  : Marijuana legalisation? Social media and suicide rates? Can we predict the next school shooter? How do we recognize and prevent ill health in a timely way and promote wellbeing? Jeff had a wealth of statistics that were sometimes a shock, definitely informative, and he presented with Q&A as we went along in a really engaged and helpful way.

Pamela Hoffman, MD: Managing risk in vulnerable youth: Perspectives from the Emergency Department. This was an eyeopener to many of us present as we learned how the impulsivity of the teen brain can bring someone into the emergency room, and how risk and protective factors can be assessed. I found this incredibly thought provoking and thought-full, and I think we all appreciated that humour helps difficult topics.

Liz Jorgensen, CADC:  Understanding and Positive Parenting of the Teenage Brain Another presentation where the wealth of information offered was combined with personal and humorous stories. How I wish I had known some of this when I became a parent, but I am also so grateful that it is known now, it helps us all.

The Community Round Table was moderated by Marguerite Donnelly, well known to BI through the Mary D Fund. Discussion and comment recognized the strengths of Block Island but could also see how they are related to our geography and small size and can also lead to our difficulties. Many ideas about how to make what we already have more positive and helpful were contributed, as well as acknowledging how we seek a shift in cultural understanding of mental health, how wellness can be part of all our lives, even when we are vulnerable, or maybe, especially when we acknowledge that we all have some vulnerability of some kind. Thanks to those who brought their specialist knowledge to our questions and comments: Peter, Jeff, Paul, Alison and Tracy, and to Marguerite.


20190518_153553Just before the Round Table, Jim Hinthorm presented the Ross Campbell Memorial Award for 2019 to the Wellness Coalition.





TED talk, Charisse Nixon: What Adolescents Need to Thrive