The Sixth Annual Children’s Mental Health Summit, hosted by Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy) and presented by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, will take place Wednesday and Thursday, May 8-9, at the Hilton Jackson Hotel in Jackson, Miss.

The theme for this year’s event is Speak Up! Speak Out! Erasing the Stigma of Mental Health. This two-day event will feature a full-day conference on Wednesday, May 8, with a half-day of post-conference breakout sessions on varied topics that affect Mississippi families and children on Thursday, May 9.

Summit Speakers & Presentations

Asya Branch – Finding Your Way: Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents

Asya will share her platform which is working with children with incarceration parents and discuss initiatives including Serving Children of Incarcerated Parents (SCIP) through the University of Mississippi Student Organization, Love Letters through county jails and her children’s books.


Christopher Freeze – Trauma That Should Keep You Up at Night, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Throughout my nearly 23 career with the FBI, I was often asked the question, “Chris, what keeps you up at night?” I’ve thought a lot about that question. I’ve tracked down foreign terrorists, investigated extremists, and locked up a few politicians. But I worked with a lot of great people, so no, there wasn’t much that kept me up at night. Except one thing: the physical and emotional trauma too many of our children face every day. Per capita, Mississippi is plagued with high violent crime rates. In addition, too many children are either the victims of crimes or involved in committing crimes. In an effort to find solutions to reducing a child’s interaction with the juvenile justice system, this workshop will explore the adverse childhood experiences and traumatic challenges facing children encountering the juvenile justice system, the challenges facing adults in realistically helping these children, and the steps necessary to begin equipping people to make a difference in a child’s life.

Elise Jordan – A Better Way to Talk about Mental Health

Elise will discuss how public policy has been positively or negatively impacted our perceptions and how we talk about mental health and health care.  By raising awareness of how our language plays a critical role in conquering long-standing stigmas and barriers to care, she hopes to bring into sharper focus positive ways we can further change.

Jim Moore, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA The Role of Mindfulness in Behavioral Treatment

Over the last 20 years, there has been an increase in the incorporation of mindfulness as a component in many behavioral treatments, including treatment for anxiety, depression, and even autism. In this presentation, participants will consider the use of mindfulness within treatments based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, with particular focus on how the use of mindfulness helps combat the natural human learning process that often creates suffering for so many.

Randy Pierce, J.D. – Judicial Efforts to Advocate for Mississippi Children’s Mental Health

This presentation will focus on the judicial system and efforts to provide and improve access to mental health services for Mississippi’s children. The presenter will discuss the ethical considerations various stakeholders face as children with mental health needs come into contact with the judicial system. This session will discuss ways the states and courts can assist children with mental health needs by promoting access to an integrated system of care.

Taheti Watson, SPHR, SHRM-SCP – Creating an Inclusive Well-Being Work Environment

This presentation will clarify the difference between diversity and inclusion and discuss the drivers for businesses to create inclusive work environments. The presenter will discuss how to overcome biases and engage the workforce to create a healthy and stigma free work zone. The panel will share innovative solutions and initiatives within their own organizations to promote health & wellness.

Panel Presenters:

  • Billy Sims, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CCP/CBP, Sr. Vice President, Policy Administration, Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company
  • Murray Harber, Executive Director, Mississippi Business Group on Health
  • Kathy V. Lovell, ACTCP, Senior Vice President, Disability Services and Outreach Manager, Regions

Post-Conference Breakout Sessions

Session 1

101 – Stand UP Mississippi: A Multi-Agency Approach to Change Stigma in Mississippi

Ann Rodio, LMSW, Director of Suicide Prevention, Mississippi Department of Mental Health

Mae Slay, Advocate for Stand Up, Mississippi, Certified Peer Support Specialist, Alcohol and Drug Services

This presentation will provide the history of how seven state and federal agencies joined efforts to improve access to treatment, curb overdose, and change the stigma of addiction in Mississippi. This session will provide an overview of the opioid crisis in Mississippi and the outreach efforts Stand UP Mississippi is taking to fight the crisis. Mae Slay will share her recovery story and the impact Stand UP Mississippi has had on her life.

102 – Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

Dr. Jim Moore, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Director of Autism Solutions, Canopy Children’s Solutions

Acceptance and Commitment Training is an evidence-based procedure based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and learning theory. ACT incorporates acceptance and mindfulness, along with additional strategies, referred to as the hexaflex to help achieve psychological flexibility in those suffering from a myriad of psychological challenges, including anxiety, depression, and even autism. ACT has been shown effective in reducing the symptoms of Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, as well as efficacy in other areas, such as weight loss and parent training. Through the six facets of ACT, participants are trained to not avoid difficult situations or feelings, but learn how to remain in their present moment, focus on their unique personal values, and take committed action toward those values, even when such action may seem uncomfortable. Participants in this workshop will first discuss the uniquely human learning process that ensnares so many of us in psychological difficulty. Next, participants will learn the six stages of ACT, as well as a simple behavioral training method to incorporate ACT into their daily lives.

103 – Playing is Not Just Fun: An Interactive Guide to Play Therapy

Monica Roberts, LPC, Clinical Therapist, School Day Program
Canopy Children’s Solutions

Caleb Cauthen, LPC, Therapist, Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinics
Canopy Children’s Solutions

Play is the universal language of all children and how they communicate with adults and their peers. Children learn and explore through play. However, in today’s society where open play is becoming more and more structured or replaced with technology, our youngest generations are beginning to show deficits in social and communicative skills, attention and overall cognitive development. This breakout session will introduce the importance of play, appropriate play, and modalities of play in order to utilize play therapy in sessions.

Session 2

201 – Nothing About Us, Without US “The Importance of Peer Support”

Aurora Baugh, MPPA, CMHT, Peer Support Specialist Program Coordinator, Division of Recovery & Resiliency, Department of Mental Health

Tonja Smith, Certified Peer Support Specialist Professional, Child & Family Advocate, Canopy Children’s Solutions

Muna Eltom, Certified Peer Support Specialist, Family Advocate, Canopy Children’s Solutions

Mae Slay, Certified Peer Support Specialist, Alcohol and Drug Services, Hinds Behavioral Health

Who better to learn from about peer support than peers who are open to share their stories? Peer Support Specialists exchange their experiences in combination with skills and trainings to assist and benefit others in their recovery and resiliency. This will be an interactive panel with Peer Support Specialists to explore how to create a safe and non-judgmental space for people in need of hope, self-awareness, and support. Learn more about how Peer Support Specialists come along beside others to support them in making healthy decisions about their own journey.

202 – The Difference between PTSD and Childhood Trauma

Beth McNamee, LCSW, Organizational Development & Training Manager, Canopy Children’s Solutions

Daniel Wilson, LMSW, Organizational Development Trainer, Canopy Children’s Solutions

This workshop discusses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a common diagnosis for children with chronic trauma and the differences between childhood trauma and PTSD. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has conceptualized a new diagnosis provisionally called “Developmental Trauma Disorder.” This session explores Developmental Trauma Disorder as an alternative to PTSD for children who have experienced complex trauma and the implications for practice.

203 – Ethical and Regulatory Considerations to Guide Clinical Practice

Arin Clark Adkins, JD, LCSW, CHC, Director of Corporate Compliance & General Counsel, Canopy Children’s Solutions

This session will explore the fundamentals of compliance and ethics in regard to clinical practice, social work and mental health. Federal and state current enforcement activities will be examined along with national guidelines and best practice for a successful healthcare compliance program. The group will also consider ethical frameworks that support professional practice and a culture of compliance.

204 –Shatter the Silence Suicide Prevention

Molly Portera, CMHT, CIDDT, CSS, CPM, Director of the Division of Outreach & Training, Mississippi Department of Mental Health

Ann Rodio, LMSW , Director of Suicide Prevention, Mississippi Department of Mental Health

This session will provide an overview of basic concepts about mental health moving into more specific information about suicide and the magnitude of deaths by suicide with current statistics for Mississippi. This session will address the risks, symptoms and warning signs for suicide.  This presentation will dispel myths, reduce stigma, and encourage help-seeking behaviors for those in need.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

New for 2019, Canopy, in partnership with Mississippi Department of Mental Health, will offer training in Youth Mental Health First Aid. This curriculum is not designed for mental health clinicians but rather designed to provide basic mental health training for teachers, coaches, caregivers, school resource officers and individuals who regularly work with youth. The free training course is made available through the Mental Health Awareness Grant and will qualify for eight hours of continuing education (CE) credit for educators and school resource officers through Jackson State University’s School of Lifelong Learning and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. This day-long workshop will take place on Thursday, May 9. Space is limited to 30 participants and will be offered on a first come, first served basis; pre-registration through the Children’s Mental Health Summit website is required.

Continuing Education Credits

The Summit and post-conference breakout sessions are formatted to address topics beneficial to mental health professionals, social workers, educators and school counselors, parents and foster parents, child advocates, members of the youth criminal justice system and law enforcement, media, and other professionals working with youth. Continuing education credits will be available for social workers, licensed professional counselors, licensed educators and Department of Mental Health-credentialed professionals. Full details regarding CEs are available on the event’s website under the General Information tab.


Registration for Wednesday’s Summit is $100 per participant, which includes the cost of materials, break refreshments, lunch and CEs. Registration for Thursday’s breakout sessions is $50 per participant and includes materials, break refreshments and CEs. Both the Summit and post-conference breakout sessions will begin at 8:00 a.m. with registration opening at 7:00 a.m. Online pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

For complete information on the Children’s Mental Health Summit, including registration, continuing education credits, presenters and information on overnight accommodations, please visit or contact 601.352.7784.