2022 South Southwest MHTTC First Episode Psychosis Conference



The 2022 South Southwest MHTTC First Episode Psychosis (FEP) Conference took place from June 1-3, 2022 both virtually and in-person in Austin, TX. Those committed to transforming FEP care, including individuals with lived experience, family members, providers, and researchers, joined us to celebrate successes and imagine a future of continued growth and accountability in the realm of FEP care. This year's theme of innovation and sustainability highlighted not only the radical advancement within early psychosis programs over the past decade but also the continued transformation of mental health structures and research serving youth and young adults living with psychosis. Throughout the  conference, we emphasized developments related to diversity of  perspective, including incorporating lived experiences, marginalized or minoritized groups, and other positionalities (culture, class, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, childhood lived experiences, contexts, worldview, perspectives, etc.). The conference was an overwhelming success that brought people together from all across the south southwest region.


This conference was coordinated and hosted by the South Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) in Region 6, an initiative funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to provide free training and ongoing consultation to all professionals that serve individuals with mental health needs. Region 6 includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and our tribal communities. The South Southwest MHTTC is a project of the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health, which is housed at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin.


2022 South Southwest MHTTC FEP Conference Products

Please follow the respective links for presentation slides and recordings as well as materials and handouts from the conference. Speakers' bios and positionality statements can also be found within the links below.

Panel Presentations


Centering Peer and Family Support: Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Moderated by Dr. Molly Lopez
Panelists were Angie Tyler, Clayton Carrier, and Hiram Cortes
Coordinated specialty care (CSC) for early psychosis offers a range of multidisciplinary services, including medication management, recovery coaching, family support, peer support, supported employment and education, and psychotherapy. Growing research and lived experience highlights the integral nature of peer and family support roles within these teams. However, peer support specialists have identified the importance of role clarity and teamwork to be effective in their roles. This panel explored strategies for effective multidisciplinary collaboration that centers peer and family support roles. Panelists discussed peer and family support roles, role clarity and collaboration, and overcoming barriers to effective centering of these roles.


College Life with Psychosis: The Student Lived Experience Perspective

Moderated by Cecilia McGough
Panelists were representatives from Students with Psychosis including Cecilia Joyce, Rei, Daniel Nepveux, Deanna, Katie Sanford, Maddie Jiles, and Vera Muñiz-Saurré
There is no one-size-fits-all experience for a student living with psychosis. This session had a panel moderator and seven Students With Psychosis members from the student lived experience perspective. Students With Psychosis is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that empowers student leaders and advocates worldwide through community building and collaboration. The panel included a mix of storytelling and discussion followed by Q&A. The discussion and storytelling highlighted intersectionality, academic accommodations, and action points on how to transform community, workplace, and educational environments to support and empower students living with psychosis.


Sharing Successes: Celebrating First Episode Psychosis Transformation in the South Southwest Region

Moderated by Dr. Vanessa Vorhies Klodnick
Panelists were leaders from South Southwest Region 6 FEP Programs, including: Roger Riley, Taylor Stevens, and Trisha Jolly (Burke Center); Delinda Reese and Emily Sanchez (COMPASS); Ashley Park (Early First Episode Psychosis Program at UNM); Alejandra Cuellar (EMERGENCE); Anna Marshall (Harris Center); Sanjhi Gandhi (Integral Care)Victoria Castaneda (Tropical Texas)

There are few opportunities within traditional conference structures to celebrate individual and program level accomplishments that incrementally improve services. The “Sharing Successes Project” allowed multiple first episode psychosis (FEP) programs within the South Southwest region of the United States to share strengths at both an individual and systems level. Presenters share about program-level changes that sustain and transform recovery-oriented care in this region as well as transformation that they hope to see in FEP care in the future, inspiring further systems-level change.


Keynote Presentations


At the Intersections of Psychosis and Marginalization

Mx. Yaffa
Although the current Mental Health system is starting to integrate understandings of equity and justice into healing practices and treatment it is important to understand the oppressive history of our system and how this has led to harm within various communities. In this session, Mx. Yaffa discussed the social, historical, and cultural factors impacting care for individuals experiencing psychosis through an intersectional lens. They shared their experiences with living with various mental health challenges and seeing, hearing, and believing things that others do not. Mx. Yaffa shared their experiences with navigating mental health care in three countries, and the cultural Intersections that create various challenges for individuals experiencing first psychosis episodes. Mx. Yaffa shares how their other intersectional identities have both made navigating the mental health system more complex and has helped on their road for recovery. In particular, Mx. Yaffa highlighted trans, Muslim, and indigenous identities as inseparable constants in their care and wellbeing.


Family Member/Support Person Engagement During Care for FEP: Challenges and Strategies to Move Forward

Dr. Oladunni Oluwoye
Family member or support person engagement is invaluable throughout care for their loved one experiencing the early stages of psychosis. From navigating pathways to services to receiving services from coordinated specialty care, engagement can be defined in various ways. In this presentation, Dr. Oladunni Oluwoye provided an overview on the importance and impact of family members or support persons on the pathway to mental health services and while receiving care for loved ones in the early stages of psychosis. She presented recent work and several strategies used to improve family engagement in early intervention services as well as culturally-informed approaches used to address racial inequities.


Psychosis: Recovery and Discovery

Dr. Eleanor Longden
Although traditionally understood as a medical condition, an increasing amount of evidence shows powerful links between painful events in people’s lives (particularly, but not exclusively, childhood abuse) and the likelihood of experiencing psychosis. This lecture drew on the presenter’s own lived experience of trauma and psychosis, as well as recent research and clinical findings, to explore how a greater emphasis on trauma-focused care may help to promote healing and recovery within mental health services.


Suicide Assessment and Prevention in Early Psychosis

Dr. Tara Niendam
Risk for self-harm behaviors is high in early psychosis populations; therefore, all clinical programs need a protocol for risk assessment and management that begins at first client contact and is maintained over time. This presentation provided an overview of suicide rates in the US, an approach to assessing risk and protective factors, and an introduction to the CSSRS – the gold-standard tool for suicide ideation and behavior. The presentation will also briefly covered methods for addressing suicide, including the Safety Plan Protocol.


The Future of Mental Healthcare is... Sitting in Your Pocket

Dr. Dror Ben-Zeev
Technology is redefining how we study, assess, and treat mental illness. Mobile health (mHealth) now enables us to bring cutting-edge treatments out of the clinics and research centers and into the hands of the people who need them most. Professor Dror Ben-Zeev from the University of Washington provided an overview of recent advancements in the field of mHealth and examines how mobile devices and digital telecommunication infrastructure can be harnessed to support detection, prevention, and support for people with serious mental illness.  Professor Ben-Zeev described the lessons his team learned from conducting multiple mHealth initiatives with complex populations in real-world settings. He outlined his vision for effective, realistic, and sustainable mHealth for mental health in the years ahead.


Other Resources


Chat Box Resources

The 2022 South Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) First Episode Psychosis (FEP) Conference occurred from June 1st to June 3rd 2022 in a hybrid format, with approximately 150 in-person participants in Austin, TX, and 300 virtual participants. Conference attendees in the virtual format shared a number of resources in the chat box throughout the conference. The South Southwest MHTTC aggregated a list of resources from comments from the chat box in the attached handout.


Opening Remarks

Jennifer Baran-Prall and Samantha Reznik led opening remarks on June 1st. Opening remarks included the conference theme, considerations around accessibility, community guidelines, context for the conference, and information about the South Southwest MHTTC. Please watch the opening remarks to learn more about the vision and intentions for the 2022 South Southwest MHTTC FEP Conference.


Out of the Box Engagement Exercise Handout

The Out of the Box Engagement Exercise was an opportunity for conference attendees to participate in collaborative dialogue across difference at the 2022 South Southwest MHTTC FEP Conference. Conference attendees were assigned to groups and asked to reflect on and submit ideas for re-envisioning engagement in the support of recovery. To learn more about what ideas conference attendees had during this collaborative dialogue group, please find the “Out of the Box Engagement” Exercise handout. The South Southwest MHTTC team organized the ideas by the themes: centering peer support, coordinating and deconstructing our systems, embedding care in community, funding and access, holistic/person-centered care, interventions for staff, particular interventions/next steps, public education, using technology to build community. Each theme includes a brief description.


Q&A Handout

Virtual attendees during the 2022 South Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) First Episode Psychosis (FEP) Conference had the opportunity to ask questions through the Q&A feature. Although many questions were answered during the time of the event, some questions were saved and answered by speakers after the event. The attached handout includes a list of questions that were answered by speakers in writing after the conference.



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