Baptist Health hosts conference on access and advocacy in mental health

Jacksonville, FL

Baptist Health is hosting a mental health conference on Wednesday, April 27, from 8 - 11:30 am at the Florida Blue Conference Center, 4800 Deerwood Campus Parkway, in Jacksonville.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will focus on efforts to strengthen Florida’s mental health system and explore opportunities to further cultivate collaboration, encourage advocacy and expand access to care through policy reform. Interested community members, individuals with lived experience, business leaders and policymakers are encouraged to attend.

The keynote speaker is Andy Keller, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, a Texas-based nonprofit organization that provides data-driven policy and program guidance to ensure all people in the state have access to mental health care when they need it most. His presentation, “Access and Advocacy: A Community Conversation,” will offer insights from his work with local and state governments to improve mental health systems and share advancements communities have made in access to care for their residents.

Keller will also lead a Q&A session to open a dialogue about recent Florida policy changes and additional improvements that will foster more effective mental health care delivery statewide. Panelists will include leaders from local and state government.

“Mental health advocacy and access to services continue to be some of our community’s most pressing needs,” said Melanie Patz, Baptist Health’s vice president of community investment and impact. “Baptist Health is committed to seeking solutions that strengthen the mental health system and enhance the health of our residents. Through this conference and forum, we hope to spark critical conversations that lead to expanded access in Northeast Florida and throughout the state.”

Further program topics will introduce local initiatives and advocacy opportunities to stimulate change in the community, including On Our Sleeves, a national movement for children’s mental health that provides free, easy-to-use educational tools and resources to help parents and caregivers start conversations, boost mental well-being and break stigmas. Dr. Francesca Varallo Sims, director of education and training at Baptist and Wolfson Children’s Behavioral Health, will spotlight this effort.

Register for the conference by April 18 at