Underserved populations focus of third annual Mental Health and Public Policy Conference May 7

Underserved populations focus of third annual Mental Health and Public Policy Conference May 7

How Minnesota can take better care of underserved populations – the homeless, elderly and poor, people of color, veterans, prison populations and more – is the focus of the third annual University of St. Thomas Mental Health and Public Policy Conference next month.

The daylong conference is sponsored by the university's Public Policy and Leadership program from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 7, in Terrence Murphy Hall on St. Thomas' downtown Minneapolis campus, 1000 LaSalle Ave. It is open to professionals and the public. Registration fees range from $20 (student) to $100 (for professional and continuing education credits). Online registration and more information is available at www.stthomas.edu/education/events .

The conference features presentations and commentary by a wide-ranging group of mental health professionals, public servants and interested citizens.

The day's events begin with a welcome by Dr. Bruce Kramer, interim dean of St. Thomas' College of Applied Professional Studies, and opening remarks by conference coordinator Patricia Jensen, adjunct professor in public policy.

Dr. L. Read Sulik

Morning keynote (9-10 a.m.) speaker is Dr. L. Read Sulik, who last November began a position as Minnesota's new assistant commissioner for chemical and mental health services in the Minnesota Department of Human Services, will share seven priorities he has set for improving mental health services in the state. Among them: eradicating the stigma still associated with mental illness, overcoming barriers to access, reducing costs of mental health care and promoting activities that improve wellness.


State Sen. John Marty

The midday speaker (11:45 a.m.) will be Minnesota Sen. John Marty (DFL, District 54), chairman of the Minnesota Senate Committee on Health, Housing and Family Security. He recently announced another run for election as governor and is chief author of the proposed MN Health Plan, a statewide health care plan currently under discussion by the Minnesota Legislature. It would cover primary, dental and mental health care, hospitalization and prescription medication.


Dennis Donovan

Afternoon keynoter (3:15-4:15 p.m.) is Dennis Donovan, a research fellow in the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs. He is lead organizer of the center's Warrior to Citizen program, a grassroots effort to provide enduring support to Minnesota's returning veterans and their families. He also leads Public Achievement, an international youth civic engagement and education initiative. The former educator was a founder of the St. Paul Ecumenical Alliance of Congregations and received the 2008 University of Minnesota Community Service Award.

A variety of breakout sessions also are scheduled on topics ranging from homelessness, cultural diversity and the elderly to veterans and prison issues. The day will conclude with a discussion of action plans.

For further information or questions about the conference, call Sonja Runck in the College of Applied Professional Studies, (651) 962-4431.