Mental health, substance use and abuse and other health conditions will be the focus of the University of Wyoming’s sixth annual Higher Education Mental Health and Substance Abuse Summit March 27-28 in Laramie.

The summit, sponsored by the UW Counseling Center, will be at the UW Conference Center at the Hilton Garden Inn. Registration costs $75 per person. Mental health, health and student affairs professionals, community college representatives and UW educators are expected to participate in the summit.

“Mental health, suicide and substance abuse are topics that affect people throughout the lifespan," says Lena Newlin, UW Alcohol Wellness Alternatives, Research and Education (AWARE) Program coordinator. “These issues are particularly relevant with college students, emerging health professionals and older adults.”

She says it is important for professionals working with these groups to have the understanding and skills to best address these issues.

“This summit will provide training and collaboration to people throughout Wyoming who work with college students, emerging health professionals and older adults,” Newlin adds.

A pre-conference gatekeepers “train-the-trainer” session will be held the day before the summit. The training is the first step in educating participants about the importance of suicide prevention awareness. An Alzheimer’s disease workshop, which focuses on the latest information about the disease, also will be offered that day. Pre-registration is required for both sessions.

The Alzheimer’s workshop will be helpful to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, counselors, psychologists, therapists and other health care professionals, Newlin says. The workshop features three speakers: Martha Stearn and Carol Taylor from St. John’s Institute for Cognitive Health, and Tonja Woods, UW School of Pharmacy clinical associate professor.

The summit will feature speakers and panelists who will focus on relevant current issues. Among the speakers are:

-- Jason Kilmer, a student affairs professional and researcher at the University of Washington. He will discuss “Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Mental Health Issues on the College Campus: Prevention, Intervention, and Future Directions,” at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 27.

-- Martha Stearn, executive director of the St. John’s Institute for Cognitive Health, will discuss “Polypharmacy in Older Adults,” at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

-- Travis Brown, UW School of Pharmacy assistant professor of pharmaceutical science, will present “Can we forget what we crave and preserve who we are: A novel strategy for treating substance abuse by selectively disrupting drug-associated cues that trigger relapse.” His talk is at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 28.

This story was provided by Brittany Perez and the University of Wyoming.

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