Mental Illness, Substance Abuse and Development Disabilities:
2005 Conference Will Spotlight Advocacy and Empowerment
June 21 - 22
Charlotte, NC - (May 19, 2005) A June conference, sponsored by the Mecklenburg County Area Mental Authority (AMHA), will focus on advocating for and empowering those dealing with mental illness, substance abuse and developmental disabilities.
The 2005 Person-Centered Conference and Training will be held
June 21 - 22. It will feature guest speakers and offer practical strategies to involve individuals, families and friends in developing treatment and care plans. About 400 people, including professionals and those receiving clinical services, are expected to attend. The conference will be held at Charlotte's Adam's Mark Hotel at 555 South McDowell Street. The event is open to the public.
"Today, it's not just the professionals who create the plan and make all the decisions," said Elizabeth Peterson-Vita, clinical director at AMHA. "We want the individuals involved and the people who care about them to voice their opinions and express their ideas, too. If they're involved, we have a greater chance for success because everyone has a stake."
The conference costs $79 for professionals and $29 for members of the public who register before May 30. After May 30, the cost is $109 for professionals and $39 for the general public. The fee includes all conference meals, training and exhibits. Call 704-432-2077 for registration information. To register online and for details on the conference schedule and speakers, visit
Conference topics include:
- The role of clients - often called consumers - and their families in developing innovative services.
- Building skills for successful planning sessions.
- Creating a "person-centered" care or treatment plan that emphasizes consumer and family participation.
- Citizen involvement in North Carolina's public mental health system reform.
- Cultural competency and engaging the Latino community.
- Best practices in substance abuse treatment.
- The basic principles of "self-determination," the idea that people with disabilities are in charge of their own services and have the right to make their own choices and decisions.
Guest speakers include:
A. Suzanne Boyd, an assistant professor in the social work department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who teaches in the areas of research, mental health, policy analysis and child welfare.
Ric Crowley, a leading advocate for people with disabilities.
Wally Kisthardt, one of the nation's top advocates for "person-centered" planning.
Mike Moseley, director of the N.C. Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.
Paul Nagy, director of substance abuse clinical training and consultation for the Duke University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
"We have sought speakers and topics that will appeal to a wide audience," Peterson-Vita said. "The discussions will be informative and thought-provoking."
The conference will also feature a "provider fair," spotlighting local companies and agencies that provide mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services. Additionally, representatives from agencies and community groups that deal with consumers of these services are invited to attend.
The Area Mental Health Authority administers and oversees public mental health, substance abuse and developmental disability services in Mecklenburg County. The focus is on those with severe and persistent diagnoses who have limited or no ability to pay for services.
To request help, Mecklenburg County residents can call 704-336-6404. For more information, visit