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The theme for the 15th annual Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Community Mental Health Conference (NRCI) is “Mental Health: Why Does it Matter? A Compassionate Community Responds.” Mental health experts will speak about helping the most vulnerable people in society. The conference, the largest annual community mental health conference in the Chicago area, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 5 at Beth Emet The
Free Synagogue, 1224 Dempster St.

 “The NRCI conference is essential to continue the dialogue about reducing stigma related to mental illness and annually shines a light on the issue of mental health for many in the Chicagoland area,” said Tiffany Masson, Psy.D., moderator of this year’s conference. “The Chicago School community looks forward to the conference every year, because we know that every workshop and speaker will broaden our view of mental health and how all of us as a community can make a difference.”
“How our community responds to compelling mental health needs in these challenging economic and social times is a critical issue. The 2016 Community Mental Health Conference will address this question,” said Lawrence Cohen, NRCI founder. “This conference is designed not only to inform and teach, but also to enable us all to learn more about the most vulnerable in our society, and how each of us can help.”

 The conference, open to both lay people and professionals, is underwritten by the Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and is sponsored in part by the Jewish Federation and its affiliates: CJE Senior Life, Jewish Child and Family Services, Jewish Vocational Services, and The Ark.

The opening panel speakers are Reverend Mark A. Dennis, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of McGaw Y; Dr. Mark Salzer, professor and Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at Temple University and Director of Community Inclusion of Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities; Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart; and Jesse Teverbaugh, Director of Student and Alumni Affairs at the Cara Program.

The 21 workshops after the panel discussion will include such topics as “Workforce Development Alternatives for Highly at Risk Youth,” “Addiction: Building Support and Embracing Life Long Recovery,” “Loss Through Violent Death,” “Our Elderly – Not to be Forgotten,” “Restorative Justice,” “Crisis Intervention Training: What Families Need to Know,” and “Veterans and Law Enforcement Response to Mental Health Crisis.” Registration and fee information are available at 312-467-2552, nrcinstitute@thechicagoschool.edu or www.naomicoheninstitute.org

Earlier this month, Mr. Cohen and his wife, Marilyn, long-time Evanston residents, were honored by Trilogy, Inc. with the 2016 Partner in Recovery Award for the work done through the NRCI.