This past July I had the great opportunity to attend the National CONFERence on Behavioral Health for Women and Girls that was held in San Diego. Sponsored by SAMHSA, the conference covered numerous topics pertaining to women and girls including: prevention, addictions, mental health, trauma, criminal justice and recovery. There were so many inspiring speakers and presenters; it was difficult to choose what session or discussion to attend.
I especially liked Stephanie Covington, Ph.D. who spoke about how important gender based services are for women and girls. I have seen Dr Covington on various talk shows, including Oprah Winfrey, and it was exciting to hear her speak in person. I made sure I had a seat right up front.
Another well known speaker was Rosalind Wiseman, expert on girls and teens, whose book Queen Bees and Wannabees was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. My own parenting days are over, but as the grandmother of three young girls I found the topic particularly interesting.
There were speakers like Patrice Gaines and Tonier Cain, two women who survived and overcame horrific child- and young adulthoods that involved drug addiction, prostitution, incarceration and institutionalization in a mental health facility. I know we all have our issues and different stressors in life, but for me, listening to these women put everything into perspective. If these two women were able to recover and go on to be successful, productive and well-known advocates, anything can be overcome, and anything is possible.
Attending this conference was a wonderful experience and I am extremely grateful I was able to attend. There was such a feeling of camaraderie, that I sat down with strangers and even left the conference with some new friends. I returned home feeling recharged, hopeful, stronger and dedicated to self-care.
And on a side note – all of the people I met were professionals/clinicians working in the field and they were extremely impressed that PRA would send someone in my position, an accountant, to this conference. At PRA, employees are encouraged to come up with ideas for professional development and are typically allowed one professional development event per year. Events may include PRA-lead trainings or meetings, or even a conference such the National CONFERence. I am thankful I had the opportunity to step outside of my day-to-day functions as an accountant to learn so much about women and girls in general, and even a bit about myself.