Engage & Excel Mental Health Conference
The Seventh Annual Engage & Excel Conference was the Institute’s most impactful yet. A focused sense of purpose and urgency permeated as the conversations and panels were almost all shaped by the tragedy in Uvalde and driven by the urgency of helping young people before they reached a crisis point.
Federal mental health champions and U.S. Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Chris Murphy of Connecticut – who together spearheaded the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, one of the most significant mental health bills in U.S. history reflected on the impact of the tragedy and how it spurred Congress to action. Their legislation invested more than $188 million into student mental health programs to support children and families.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and Greg Bonnen, MD, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, provided an insider’s preview of the 88th Legislative Session and what the ongoing emphasis on mental health care means for Texans who want to see systems improved across the state and in local communities. Both of these leaders have prioritized historic investments in state mental health.
One of the conference’s most powerful conversations featured Uvalde community leaders sharing how the community is responding and recovering in the wake of unimaginable tragedy. From the immediate response to long-term recovery, the panel, which included state officials, emphasized the crucial role of state and local collaboration and resources in rebuilding a more resilient community.
The conference also addressed the need for better engagement with community members, improvements in how we respond to mental health emergencies, and strategies to address the mental health workforce shortage.
One of the great strengths of E&E has always been its ability to bring people together from various professions and communities, breaking down silos and building new opportunities to innovate and address challenges.