13 October 2023 • STEM Psychology Students Attend NAMI Conference and Mental Health Symposium

Conference offers an eye-opening and enriching experience that allowed students to listen and learn from people combating and from those suffering from mental illness.

Professor of Psychological Science Jamie Bodenlos recently took students from several of her classes to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Syracuse Education Conference. This year’s conference was titled Facing Challenges Together: A Mental Health Symposium.

The daylong conference provided a significant platform for students to listen and learn from both individuals battling mental illness and those who support them. Alongside licensed professionals, service providers, and advocates, HWS students delved into critical topics such as adolescent suicide, domestic violence, substance abuse, self-care, and the role of peers and family in helping others, as well as crisis response strategies.

Alex George ’24, Harper Tanguay ’24, Hunter Meshanic ’25 and Lindsay Ringbloom ’25

“Reading textbook chapters on psychological disorders doesn’t compare to the opportunity to hear firsthand from individuals suffering with mental health issues many of whom lived through trauma and had many obstacles to getting mental health care,” says Bodenlos. “It allows my students to see the human side of the course material.”

Psychiatrist Dr. Robert J. Gregory offered the keynote address on “Pathway to Recovery and Wellness: Applying a Life-Changing Model for Adolescents and Young Adults at Risk for Suicide.” His presentation focused on the Psychiatry High Risk Program and how this model for adolescents and young adults is one of the more effective programs for reducing suicide attempts in individuals ages 14-40 years old. He also presented on the weekly Dynamic Deconstructive Psychotherapy and the other steps of the program that give patients the emotional bandwidth to build connection and resilience in their lives.

Other sessions were led by representatives from Liberty Resources Mobile Crisis Unit, Helio Health Crisis Stabilization Unit and more.

Lindsay Ringbloom ’25 says the experience confirmed her desire to study psychology at a graduate level. I felt hearing real, personal examples of mental illness and how these people survived and fought to break the stigma was extremely inspiring, and only furthered my interest in continuing my psychology education at the post-graduate level.

Katelyn Oswalt ’24, who intends to pursue law school after HWS, made connections at the conference that will apply to a career in law.

“I believe that in the law it is highly important to know why people may think or act the way they do, and how to best communicate with them,” says Oswalt, who was inspired by governmental lobbyists who advocate for increased government funding and mental health research. As a lawyer, I hope to use my personal influence in order to advocate for what is right.”

Alexandra George ’24 viewed the conference as affirming for her in her choice to pursue a career that deals with caring for individuals with mental illness.

To be able to hear so many personal stories, listen to professionals in the field, and discuss tangible solutions and treatments to issues surrounding mental illness only solidified my decision to pursue a career dedicated to treating and supporting individuals with mental illness and their families/caretakers as well, says George. “Overall, this conference taught me so much and really left me with a feeling of hope for the future of mental illness treatment, prevention, and advocacy. I feel really passionate that I am pursuing the right career field.

Pictured Above: While attending the National Alliance on Mental Health conference with Professor Jamie Bodenlos, Harper Tanguay ’24, Alex George ’24, Tiffany Foster ’24, Cora Nagle ’24, Katie Corren ’24, Sophie Leidig ’24 and Conrad Palmer ’24 gather for a photo.