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Experts to Gather for “Bridging the Gaps” Conference May 10

By G. Wayne Miller, Providence Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — Scientists, clinicians, advocates and others from the state’s mental-health and recovery communities will convene May 10 for the “Bridging the Gaps: Heroes and Allies, Changing the Conversation” conference, sponsored by the Rhode Island chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The daylong conference at Providence College’s Slavin Center is one highlight of “May is Mental Health Month,” which kicks off — a few days early — at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, with a State House speaking program, featuring Gov. Gina Raimondo, sponsored by the Mental Health Association of Rhode Island, an affiliate of the national organization Mental Health America.

Tom Martin, associate director of Behavioral Health Services with the state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, will be one of the featured speakers during the “Navigating Rhode Island’s Mental Health Care System” panel, one of more than a dozen at the May 10 NAMI conference.

Among the keynote speakers will be Dr. James Sullivan, chief medical officer at Butler Hospital and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Also speaking will be A.T Wall, director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections; Sarah Fleury, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island; and Jim McNulty, executive director of Mental Health Consumer Advocates of Rhode Island/Oasis RI.

Also, Eliza Lanzillo, former leader of Active Minds at Brown University; state Rep. Aaron Regunberg; Jim Vincent, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP; state Mental health Advocate Megan N. Clingham; and Melissa Fundakowski, NAMI recovery support group facilitator and a woman who lives with schizophrenia.

Among the other mental-health events in May:

— Opioid Conference, May 6, 12 and 13, on Block Island.

— Mental Health Recovery Day on the Hill, 3 p.m. May 3 at the State House.

— The Rainbow RunWalk, in memory of Cassandra Grace Duncan, who took her own life in 2005, to “raise funds to support projects that bring hope to people with mental illness,” May 13 in Richmond.

Also, Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, based in Washington, will discuss mental-health policy and related issues, this weekend on Story in the Public Square, on Rhode Island PBS and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Story in the Public Square is a partnership of The Providence Journal and the Pell Center at Salve Regina University.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in five, or roughly 50 million, adult Americans live with a diagnosable mental disorder. Some 10 million have serious functional impairment due to a mental illness, such as a psychotic or serious mood or anxiety disorder, and 20 percent of children ages 13-18 currently have and/or previously had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.

More information about “Bridging the Gaps,” from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 10, is available at http://bit.ly/2oJNkxt

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