Collin County mental health officials are gearing up for the third annual mental health symposium “Building Today for A Brighter Tomorrow.” The program will be held from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2016, at Collin College Central Park Campus Conference Center located at 2200 W. University Dr. in McKinney.


“In Collin County, like everywhere else across the country, we see issues related to mental illness,Alyse Ferguson, director of Collin County MHMC Program, said. “Recent events such as the Dallas ambush only highlight the deficiencies in our mental health system. Services and treatment we need for these individuals are not always available, contributing to the persistence of this ongoing issue.”


The symposium is designed for mental health professionals, emergency response personnel, attorneys, police officers and others who deal with the mentally ill.


The program features a full line up of mental health professionals who will host workshops on topics such as “Bridging the Gap between Criminal Justice and Mental Health,” “Crisis Intervention and De-Escalation,” and “Responding To the Mentally Ill: Apprehension by Police Officer Without Warrant APOWW.”


Major changes are about to occur for Collin County’s public mental health and substance abuse services. Starting Jan. 1, 2017, Collin County will have its own Local Behavioral Health Authority after 15 years of being linked to a Dallas-run experiment.


According to Randy Routon, Ph.D. and CEO of LifePath Systems, “This change will bring more services and make them available closer to home. Our goal is to strengthen all of our cities and communities by preventing or reducing mental health crises whenever possible. We are actively coordinating with law enforcement, jails, hospitals, schools and other providers to create an efficient system of care. And the options to hospitalization that will now be offered will be better for clients and families.”


Speakers will include Dr. Frederick J. Frese is a psychologist who, while a young Marine Corps officer, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and over the next 10 years was in and out of mental hospitals, often on secure wards. He describes the process of developing schizophrenia, living with the disorder, and has developed 12 aspects of coping for persons with serious mental illness. His long experience in treating mentally ill persons and his extensive networking with various professional and consumer groups also equip him to discuss present trends and future directions in the treatment of serious mental illness.


A full line up of speakers is posted on www.mhsymposium.com.


Mental Health Symposium officials have set four objectives for the conference, including: Bringing together the stakeholders – those who encounter persons with mental illness; developing teamwork to fill the cracks of the system, so that no person with mental Illness goes without needed services and treatment; a team effort towards education and solutions; making sure that the cost of the symposium is always nominal and of great value to increase participation at the symposium, thus increasing participation in ideas and solutions; and that the event is a partnership between public and private organizations in Collin County.


Sponsors include: Collin County Courts, Haven Behavioral Hospital, Carrollton Springs, Glen Oaks Hospital, Southwest Correctional Medical Group, and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Sponsor opportunities are still available.


More information is available at www.mhsymposium.com or by calling Alyse Ferguson at 214-491-4805.