Annual mental health symposium will spotlight effectiveness and access to care

March 8, 2019 | Katherine Adams

Emily G. Sutter Symposium spotlights mental health-related issues

The 29th Annual Emily G. Sutter Symposium for Mental and Behavioral Health will take place Friday, April 12, 8:15 a.m. – 6 p.m., at University of Houston-Clear Lake, featuring author and Peace of Mind Foundation Director Elizabeth McIngvale as the keynote speaker.

McIngvale is also assistant professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. The symposium targets behavioral and mental health professionals intending to learn more about current issues facing their disciplines and offers a full day of information addressing mental health topics. It is presented by UH-Clear Lake’s Psychological Services Clinic.

As a teen, McIngvale was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Her case was so severe, she said, her parents were told it might be untreatable. “As far as OCD symptomology, you name it and I had it,” she said. “Within a few months, my OCD went from manageable to causing me to be homebound.”

Her keynote address will focus on the importance of mental health programs for marginalized communities and the positive impact of mental health services on the healing process. “There is effective treatment, but people don’t know about it or have access,” McIngvale said. “It’s really important to talk about what treatment exists and how people can get it. Houston has a ton of great resources, and a lot of public sector mental health programs are accessible.”

McIngvale said that the priority was to speak about evidence-based care. “People don’t believe they can get better. I’m speaking to my own personal story about finding help,” she said. “We could afford the care, but doctors told my parents that mine was the most severe case they’d ever seen. People need to be given the same hope and same opportunity to be helped that I got. Don’t let anyone say there’s no help. It’s available, no matter how dark it feels.”

She said she would also speak about the stigma associated with mental illness. “We should encourage people to want treatment and get them to go. The problem is to find treatment in a broken system,” she said.

The symposium is named for UHCL Professor Emerita Emily Sutter, who joined the faculty in 1981 and twice served as interim dean of the College of Human Sciences and Humanities. While serving in this capacity, she proposed creating the symposium.

UHCL’s Psychological Services Clinic trains graduate students in clinical psychology, family therapy and school psychology and serves children, adults, and families from the community with mental health needs. All proceeds from the symposium goes to supporting the clinic. It also houses the university’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, which provides services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and extreme behavior problems.

To register, or for more information about the Emily G. Sutter UHCL Symposium, call 281-283-3330 or visit www.uhcl.edu/psychological-services-clinic/emily-sutter-symposium.