Mental Health and Wellness Conference

Tools for Fostering Success at Home, in School, and Throughout Life

Registration is now available for our 2018 Mental Health and Wellness Conference
Register Here!

If you require accommodations to attend this conference, please click on "conference accommodations" and send your name, email address, phone number, and a brief explanation of your needs. Alternatively, you may call 571-423-4414.
Conference Accommodations

The fifth annual FCPS Mental Health and Wellness Conference will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2018, at Fairfax High School from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  

Dr. Scott Brabrand, FCPS Superintendent, will open the conference. Dr. Amy Przeworski, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Case Reserve Western University, will be the keynote speaker.

Participants in this conference will be able to choose from a wide variety of options for each of three breakout sessions, and there will be many resource tables available representing public and private agencies providing services within our schools and community.  


Participants will be able to customize their day to include attending the keynote presentation, choose from multiple sessions, visit exhibits, purchase a sandwich and other snacks. Below is the main conference agenda for attendees. There is a separate agenda for teens, which can be found here.

7:45 Walk-in Registration Begins
8:00 Resource Tables Open (until 12:40)
9:00 – 9:50 Session #1 Breakout Presentations
10:00 – 11:20 Keynote Presentation
Dr. Scott Brabrand, Superintendent, FCPS
Dr. Amy Przeworski, Associate Professor, Case Reserve Western University
11:35 – 12:25 Session #2 Breakout Presentations
12:40 – 1:30 Session #3 Breakout Presentations

Keynote Session

Using Stress to Your Advantage in Achieving Academic Success and Emotional Well Being

In the current fast-paced world, stress is a universal experience among children, adolescents, and adults. Close to a third of Americans report that their average stress level is extreme. Chronic stress is associated with physical and mental health conditions, and while most people see stress as an experience that is negative, damaging, and unhealthy, new studies are indicating that stress, when combined with a positive mindset, can actually be beneficial. The mindset that stress is adaptive is associated with an increased capacity to attend, persevere and perform, and a recognition that it can positively influence one’s level of happiness and overall health. The findings of these studies suggest that how we think about stress is at least as important, and possibly even more important, than our actual stress level. In recognition that this mindset of embracing and welcoming stress can help your body to have a more adaptive biological and behavioral response to stress, therein helping your body and mind to grow and you to achieve your goals, this keynote will focus on what stress is and what it isn’t, and the importance of one’s mindset about stress, and ways you and your child can learn to embrace stress and to use it to your advantage. We will also discuss how to understand the difference between healthy stress and when anxiety and stress become a problem. 

Breakout Sessions

Adaptive Skills for College Transition
Sajjad A. Khan, PhD, LCSW, NeuroScience, Inc.
The session will focus on the skills necessary for successful transition to college. The presentation will include discussion of executive functioning, self-regulation, and social skills. The workshop will cover environmental stressors, assessments, and treatment approaches. Specific conditions such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and mood disorders will also be discussed.
(Offered Session 2)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Signs, Symptoms, and Why Testing is a Good Idea
Timothy Fratto, PhD, Neuropsychology Associates of Fairfax
ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed disorder of attention, and the diagnosis is frequently based solely on self-report symptoms. However, there is considerable evidence that self-report symptoms do not always correspond with cognitive and functional impairments observed during objective assessment. This presentation will discuss the signs and symptoms of ADHD, will outline the neuropsychological assessment, and will cover the role of neuropsychological testing in the diagnosis and management of ADHD.
(Offered Session 1)

Buffering the Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences: The Number One Protective Factor
Laura Thieman, LCSW, MPH, RPT, Social Worker Supervisor, FCPS
You may be the number one protective factor for a child. Why does the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) matter and how can it transform your relationships with children? This Session focuses on building resilience in children through strengthening relationships. Mindful and play-based techniques will be demonstrated.
(Offered Sessions 1 & 3)

Community Resources for Families and Youth
Kelly Henderson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Formed Families Forward
Jeanne Comeau, Executive Director, NAMI Northern Virginia
Patricia Hudak, PCC, CHADD NoVa/DC
Keisha Yancey, PEATC
Northern Virginia is home to many nonprofit organizations that offer free and low cost services to children, youth, and families. Come, meet, and hear from representatives from Formed Families Forward, CHADD of NoVa/DC, NAMI of Northern Va, and PEATC (Parent Educational Advocacy and Training Center) about direct services, trainings, events, and other supports available.
(Offered Session 2)

Continuing the Conversation: Follow-Up to Keynote Presentation
Practical Skills for Using Stress To Your Advantage

Dr. Amy Przeworski, Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University
A continuation of the keynote presentation, this breakout Session will focus more deeply on specific skills that parents can use to embrace and welcome stress into their lives and to help their children to do so. In particular, we will discuss the how to identify your mindset about stress as adaptive or unhealthy, the importance of the perceiving stress as an opportunity for growth, and how to recognize the ways in which stress can help to enhance your performance. 
(Offered Session 2)

Educate Before You Medicate
Donney John, PharmD., Executive Director, Falls Church–NOVA Scripts Central
Prescription medication are being more widely used among children. However medications alone will not improve the health of children. Learn about the proper use of common medications and lifestyle changes to help keep children healthy.
(Offered Sessions 1 & 3)

Express Your Stress! 
Devra Gordon, MSW, Behavioral Health Therapist, INOVA Behavioral Health System
Johanna Martinez, LCSW, Behavioral Health Therapist, INOVA Behavioral Health System
Helping students about their stress can be challenging. This session will explore ways to creatively engage students in identifying emotions around stressful situations.
(Offered Session 1)

Equity & Engagement Resources & Supports for Families, Students & Staff
Armando Peri, Jr., M.A., Family and Student Ombudsman, FCPS                 
Renee LaHuffman-Jackson, Ed.D., Coordinator, Family and School Partnerships, FCPS
Nina Thomas, M.A., Coordinator, Professional Learning and Cultural Responsiveness, FCPS
Join this interactive Session to learn more about the ways in which staff in the offices of the Family and Student Ombudsman, Family & School Partnerships, and Equity and Cultural Responsiveness provide support and resources to our parents, the communities, and staff and how their work connects to the health and wellness of students in Fairfax County Public Schools.
(Offered Sessions 1)

Executive Functioning and Digital Media: A Framework for Understanding and Addressing the Challenges of Technology Use
Joshua Kefer, Psy.D., School Psychologist, FCPS
Ellen Goldberger, Ph.D., School Psychologist, FCPS
Blakely Mulder, Scholl Psychology Intern, FCPS
In this session, parents will learn about executive functioning and how it is implicated in adolescents’ use of digital media. We will discuss how executive functioning provides a useful context in which to understand the challenges adolescents often experience regulating their use of digital media, and we will use this context to offer a helpful framework for addressing these challenges.
(Offered Session 2 & 3)

“Failure to Launch” in Young Adults: How to Get Your Child to Be a Successful Adult 
Johanna Kaplan, Ph.D., Director and Clinical Psychologist, Washington Anxiety Center of Capitol Hill
Failure to launch” has become a common colloquialism to describe the inability of young adults to develop adequate coping methods for more complicated, emerging stressors in their environment. In the United States, approximately 40% of 18-34-year-olds are living with a parent(s) and approximately 40% of them experience anxiety and depression. This workshop will review factors to identify those at risk for “failure to launch,” and discuss the benefits of using a cognitive-behavioral treatment modality.
(Offered Session 1)

FCPS Digital Citizenship Program and Parent Supports 
Tammi Sisk, M.Ed., Educational Specialist, Instructional Technology Integration, FCPS
In this session, we'll explore how parents and schools can work in partnership to help every child approach his or her digital participation with empathy, ethics, and a sense of individual, social, and civic responsibility. Parents and caregivers will learn about the FCPS program for digital citizenship and the many supports available for families. Parents will have the opportunity to learn about the FCPS Shared Responsibility Model and K-12 student curriculum. Parents will be guided through resources and strategies that can be used at home to deal with everything from age appropriate app and media selection to setting expectations in the household. We'll also provide strategies that can be used to help children reflect on their technology use and support the development of safe and healthy habits. 
(Offered Session 1 & 2)
From Calm to Storm - Understanding the Conflict Cycle: A Primer for Parents
Paul Bordelon, SPSP, School Psychologist, FCPS
This session will provide parents with an overview of the nature of acting out behavior in children and adolescents, review our roles in the conflict cycle, and offer strategies to address challenging behaviors.
(Offered Sessions 1 & 2)

Get Out of Bed, Get to School: Successfully Re-Engage Anxious or Depressed Students 
Devra Gordon, MSW, Behavioral Health Therapist, INOVA Behavioral Health System
Johanna Martinez, LCSW, Behavioral Health Therapist, INOVA Behavioral Health System
If you’ve ever had a student resistant to go to school, whether it be one day or a month of days, this is the Session for you! We will discuss practical tools and interventions which can be used for one day or one month to reinforce school attendance. We will share examples of plans that have been effective for a variety of ages to decrease missed days and increase family and school harmony.
(Offered Session 2)

Incorporating Mindfulness Into Your Daily, Family, and Classroom Schedule
Christian Freeman, M.A., Teacher, FCPS
Thaisa York, M.A., School Counselor, FCPS
In this presentation you will learn how to incorporate mindful practice into your parenting and/or classroom daily schedule. You will also learn how to create "buy-in" for your children and students. These mindfulness strategies are quick and beneficial coping skills that can help create a more positive and conducive environment in your home and school, and will lead to life-long skills that can be used in any stressful situation in school and throughout life! 
(Offered Sessions 1 & 2)

Increasing Emotional Intelligence at Home
Laura Rotella, Director of Student Services, FCPS
Jeanne Veraska, MSW, Project AWARE/VTSS Manager, FCPS
This presentation will focus on practices that can be used at home to increase emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is instrumental to understanding behaviors, building relationships, and negotiating life challenges. Skills and strategies that can be used with all ages will be shared.
(Offered Sessions 2 & 3)

Letting Go: Transitioning from Home to the Dorm Room  
Carter, Elizabeth, M.Ed., College and Career Center Specialist, FCPS
Shirnesha Simpkins Church, School Counselor, FCPS
Whitney J. McDonough, LCSW, School social Worker, FCPS
Discussion on what college life is like today and stressors to expect during transition from high school to freshman year. Learn more on how to help students build confidence and competence for the challenges of college and being away from home, how parents/guardians/students change roles, and valuable resources available to students on a college campus to help achieve a successful and productive transition. 
(Offered Sessions 1 & 3)

Managing Stress In A Busy World
Andrew Raab, M.A., School Counselor, St. Bernadette Catholic School
Learn more about what stress really is and how to manage it in today's busy world. Practical tips will be offered to help you through everyday life.
(Offered Session 1)

Mental Health and Substance Use Services Provided by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and Healthy Minds Fairfax 
Jim Gillespie, LCSW, MPA, CSB Child, Youth, and Family Services Director, Fairfax-Falls Church CSB
Elizabeth Petersilia, LCSW, Health Minds Fairfax Program Manager, Fairfax County Department of Family Services
LaVurne Williams, CSB Youth and Family Services Director, Fairfax-Falls Church CSB
This session will provide an overview of mental health and substance use services provided by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and sponsored by Healthy Minds Fairfax, including emergency services, outpatient therapy, case management, care coordination, psychiatric services, and parent peer support. Participants will learn how to access services, the cost of services and eligibility requirements.
(Offered Sessions 2 & 3)

Mental Health First Aid for Adolescents and College-Bound Young Adults  
Lori Naveda, CSAC, Behavioral Health Specialist, Fairfax-Falls Church CSB
Michelle Wenz, Ed.S., School Social Worker, FCPS
Mental health issues and substance use challenges often present during adolescence and young adulthood affecting middle and high school students, as well as those transitioning to or attending college. Youth Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education are curriculums that provide parents and adults working with youth the training and education needed to identify potential mental health and substance issues. Both the school and college setting have unique cultures and parents can learn how to work within each framework to best support their student by understanding the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, the importance of early intervention, and practical skills for accessing and providing appropriate resources.
(Offered Sessions 2 & 3)

Military OneSource: Tour in a Box    
Erika R. Slaton, Program Deputy, Non-medical Counseling Program Office, Department of Defense, military Community and Family Policy
Join this session for a special virtual tour of Military OneSource, the Department of Defense's 24/7 call center and website that provides information, answers, and support on every aspect of military life. Military OneSource "Tour in a Box" gives military families the chance to meet the call center team and discover how they can access Military OneSource's high-tech and high-touch support to help individuals manage stress, strengthen relationships, support children and youth, health and wellness goals, and more.
(Offered Session 1)

Nutrition for Positive Mental Health
Michelle Mullaley, Ph.D., Psychologist and Co-Owner, Bridges Therapy and Wellness Center
It's hard to convince our kids and teens that good nutrition matters-but food really IS medicine for the body and brain. Learn how nutrition plays a role in feeling stressed, anxious, or unhappy and how good nutrition can contribute to feeling better. You will learn how the stomach, brain, and your emotions communicate and influence each other, specific foods to minimize because they trigger uncomfortable emotions, and foods that are helpful in calming your nervous system. You will leave with practical ideas of how you can make small changes in your nutrition, or that of your children, to have a positive impact on mental health.
(Offered Session 3)

Parenting in the 21st Century 
Felicea Meyer-DeLoatch, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Social Worker, NcitewithN, LLC 
If you would like to learn how to merge old school parenting with cutting edge solutions, this Session is for you. Whether your child is age 2, 12, or 21, in these times of devices, technology and instant access, it can seem like social media, gaming, and streaming are taking over, but they don’t have to. This empowering Session will provide tools and techniques that will allow you to remain aware and build a healthier relationship and a more effective communication style between you, your child, your family, and others. This Session is for anyone who wishes gain more time communicating with children, family and others through human contact.
(Offered Sessions 1 & 2)

Raising Children with Healthy Self-Esteem in a High-Pressure Culture
Rachel Bailey, MA, CPDPE, Parenting Specialist
We all want our children to feel good about themselves and meet their full potential. But how can we raise children with healthy self-esteem when they look around and believe they aren't doing or being enough (no matter how successful they actually are)? In this workshop, you'll learn exactly what to DO and SAY so that children believe in themselves -and thrive- even in a culture where perceived standards seem unattainable.
(Offered Session 3)

Resilience and Thriving: The Secret Power of Stress
TBD, Kaiser Live Well, Be Well department
Attend this course to sharpen your ability to learn and grow from stress and even transform stress into something that helps you prosper and thrive. 
(Offered Sessions 2 & 3)

School Avoidance and Anxiety
Danielle Causley, LCSW, School Social Worker, FCPS
Tracey Guard, MS, Attendance Intervention Specialist, FCPS
This session will discuss school attendance through a mental health lens. We will explore how anxiety and family dynamics can lead to entrenched behavior patterns that can be difficult to change. The presentation will include practical suggestions on how to approach your child's school avoidance and how to enlist support from your school team.
(Offered Sessions 2 & 3)

School-based Mental Health Supports 
EJ Stapler, NCC, CHST, LPC, School Counselor, FCPS
Attendees will learn about the roles of the school counselor, school psychologist, and school social worker and the services they provide. Attendees will learn how students and families can access these school professionals and possible expected outcomes.
(Offered Session 3)

Social and Emotional Needs of Advanced Learners 
Lori Bedsole, M.Ed., Educational Specialist, Advanced Academic Programs, FCPS
Joan Lee, M.Ed., Educational Specialist, Office of School Counseling, FCPS
This session will describe the social and emotional needs of advanced learners, and how parents and adults can support these needs.
(Offered Sessions 1 & 3)

Social Media: Community and Identity Formation
Rick Stegman, Educational Specialist, Instructional Technology, FCPS
Social media sites are online communication spaces that promote user interaction, feedback, and content sharing. In this Session we will compare and contrast your own social media use with that of your children. You will also be asked to reflect on your own adolescent years and how growing up today is similar (and different) for your kids than it was for you.
(Offered Sessions 1 & 3)

Teen Stress and the Benefits of Self-Care: What Parents Need to Know 
Michelle Mullaley, Ph.D., Psychologist and Co-Owner, Bridges Therapy and Wellness Center
A seminar for parents to 1) learn more about issues that create stress for today’s teens; 2) understand the physical/bodily reactions that take place when teens feel stress; 3) understand common emotional and interpersonal reactions to teen stress; 4) learn to encourage self-care to foster positive stress management and resilience in teens. and 5) learn additional stress management techniques.
(Offered Session 1)

The Anxious Child
Amber Ong, Ph.D., LCP, NCSP, School Psychologist, FCPS
Jen Zabel, Psy.D., School Psychologist, FCPS
We will be discussing anxiety and anxiousness. This discussion will include warning signs, symptoms, and typical co-morbid behaviors/disorders. We will also discuss recommendations for home and school.
(Offered Session 3)

The Best of Stress Management
Stephanie Herman, LCSW, Social Worker Supervisor, FCPS
The Best of Stress Management is based on the "mind-body" approach to health-using the power of our minds to create healthy changes in our bodies, and the power of our bodies to create healthy changes in our minds. The evidence-based program comes out of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine (Washington, DC) and has been helping people around the world. Come have a taste and learn! Information and skills learned are appropriate for all ages and can be taken into your classroom, professional, and personal life.
(Offered Session 1)

The Neurobiology of Stress & Anxiety: What Teachers, Parents and Students Need to Know
Josh Metz, LCSW, Head of School, The Auburn School
Workshop participants will come away with 1) a foundation in the neurobiology of stress and anxiety and how they impact development, 2) an understanding of the critical role that stress plays in learning, 3) how to nurture "good stress" at home and school, and 4) what to do when "bad stress" and anxiety impact the learning environment.
(Offered Sessions 1 & 3)

Three to Succeed! Fostering Resilience in our Youth
Jennifer Spears, MA., Educational Specialist, Mental Wellness, FCPS
Beth Werfel, Ed.S. School Psychologist, FCPS
In this session participants will learn about the Fairfax County Youth Survey and how having just three assets is associated with students being better able to manage stress, make better choices, and develop healthy habits. Assets, or protective factors, are derived from the survey data that students in FCPS participate in by sharing their behaviors and experiences at home, school, and in the community. Whether you are a parent, staff member, or other community member, learn how we can all play a role in fostering resilience in our youth.
(Offered Session 1)

Vaping: What You Need to Know
Stefan Mascoll, M.A.Ed., Coordinator, Student Safety and Wellness, FCPS
Brian Maslowski, M.A.Ed., Teacher -Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, FCPS
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. This Session will provide new information on the negative health effects of vaping, guidance on speaking with your child about vaping, and information about the devices used for vaping.
(Offered Sessions 2 & 3)

Our Minds Matter Teen Summit

Middle and high school students are invited to participate in the Our Minds Matter Teen Summit, hosted by the Josh Anderson Foundation and Cor Foundation. Attendees will not only strengthen their understanding of mental health pro-social behaviors, but more importantly, the application of them in their school community (i.e., specific caring actions to support to a struggling peer). Attendees will also connect with peers from other schools in Fairfax County and the greater Northern Virginia area, creating a unified group of teens passionate about reducing mental health stigma and promoting mental wellness. Our Minds Matter club leaders and members will gain key information, resources and the skills for a successful year ahead!

8:30 – 9:00 Arrival, Welcome, and Breakfast
9:00 – 9:45 Josh Anderson Foundation Presentation
  • Our Minds Matter history; personal and school’s legacy
9:45 – 10:10 Energizer Activity
10:15 – 11:00 Thinking Preferences Workshop
  • Understand your thinking preferences  to strengthen your ability to be a change agent 
11:00 – 11:40 Lunch
  • Q & A Session with School Board Member, Ryan McElveen
11:45 – 12:30 Our Minds Matter Experience
  • Leadership in action - Students practice a typical club meeting 
12:40 – 1:20 Dr. Amy Przeworski
  • Pivoting Stress - How to use stress to your advantage 
1:20 – 1:30 Closing