This 90-minute virtual roundtable discussion will focus on providing attendees with a thorough understanding of the experience of mental health stigma, including but not limited to the various types of stigma, the impact of the stigma experience on the help-seeking behaviors of those experiencing mental health challenges, and how mental health stigma impacts the quality of care provided to people impacted by mental illness. Panelists will share their personal and professional experiences with mental health stigma.
Roundtable Facilitator – James Rodriguez, LCSW, PhD
Dr. James Rodriguez
Dr. James Rodriguez is a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychologist in private practice with over 25 years of experience as a direct practitioner, trainer, and researcher in mental health services to children, youth, adults, and families. He is the Senior Director of Clinical Initiatives at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and Adjunct Faculty at the NYU Silver School of Social Work.
Roundtable Panelists (click for details)
Darlene Carrera is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who has dedicated her career to working with children, young adults, families, and trauma survivors. Darlene completed her BA in Psychology from University of California, Irvine. She moved across the country to complete her Master’s in Social Work at Columbia University, New York. In addition, she has completed a certificate at the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York and trainings for Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Facilitated Attuned Interactions (FAN) model, and Triple P (Positive Parenting Program). Darlene has worked in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx as a social worker and taken leadership positions in mental health clinics, care coordination and Ontrack programs. She is currently a Clinical Trainer for New York State Coordinated Specialty Care Programs at the Center for Practice Innovations.
Ruth Colón-Wagner is the CEO & Executive Director of VCS Inc. Ruth has over 33 years of experience in the fields of Child Welfare, Homeless Services, Employment, and Mental Health Care working with children, adults, and families. For the last 30 of those years Ruth has worked in a variety of leadership positions. Prior to joining VCS, NYAPRS, Ruth served as Director of Training & Development with NYAPRS and provided national technical assistance and training in a variety of specialties to include: organizational culture change from traditional care to a recovery-oriented system of care, organizational capacity building and sustainability, anti-racism organizational culture change, board development, succession planning, and strategic planning. Ruth received a Master’s of Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work and is licensed as a social worker in New York State.
Ruth identifies as a parent of an adult child with lived experiences. These experiences inform all aspects of her work. Ruth is also proud to work for an organization that is progressive and committed to anti-oppressive practices, health equity, and anti-racism work and is brave enough to engage in difficult conversations to advance social equality for all.
Kim D. Kaiser is the Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion for Families Together in New York State and the director of Programming and Peer Support for the Color of Autism Foundation. Kim is the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum, an advocate, trainer, artist, and speaker. Kim serves on the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Advisory Committee, SPARK Research DEI Committee, Nonprofit Boards, and community-based initiatives. Over the past 39 years, Kim has served in Disability, Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and Mental Health systems in the US, Africa, and the Caribbean. Her work focuses on efficacy, equity, inclusion-based engagement, and cultural adaptations to the work of clinicians, researchers, and systems. Kim recently served as the lead author of a study on culturally congruent training for Black Parents and has worked with Kim has been named Advocate of the Year by Families Together in New York State and received a letter of commendation from Bronx Family Court for exemplary family advocacy. Kim’s work has been featured in Media outlets such as Spectrum News ( Autism Research), CNN, CBS, Forbes Magazine, Autism Speaks, and Netflix.
Randy Killings was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY with a host of siblings. He graduated from George Wingate High School at the top of his class and afterwards, he attended John Jay College for 2 ½ years. He began modeling during college and decided to pursue modeling as a career for 4 years.
Despite his home life being supportive and loving, Randy began experiencing trauma at an early age. However, he was unaware what the trauma consisted of. He knew the trauma was not associated with his sexuality because his family was very accepting. Randy also was living with a mental health disorder that aided in covering up the traumatic experiences. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and doctors highly medicated him at the age of eight.
The combination of Randy’s mental health disorder and the trauma he experienced led him to begin using drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, the drugs and alcohol brought Randy down a road of criminal activity and he was sent to prison many times. His last arrest garnered him 10 years in a New York State prison facility.
Randy swore that when he was released from prison, things would be different. He got clean and sober while in prison and now has almost sixteen years of sobriety. Also since his release, he has successfully become a productive member of society. He graduated from Howie the Harp, a forensic training program in New York City, at the top of his class. He is now working at a psychosocial club that provides advocacy and support to LGBT identified mental health consumers. He started out as a peer specialist intern and is now the Director of Peer Services with many responsibilities. He supervises nine Certificated Peer Specialist staff, interns from Howie T. Harp Peer training program, and all volunteers. (Randy also is a CPS). Randy is also the food coordinator of agency’s meal program. He has facilitated many groups, solutions group and the Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) groups, a group that teaches group members about wellness and recovery and how to maintain it. Gay men’s group, self-acceptance and games night a group that assists members with getting alone with one another.
Randy has had a hard bout with dealing with the co-morbidity of his trauma and mental illness. He searched until he found a therapist that could adhere to his needs and help him with what he wanted to be helped with. Now, he is flourishing. Randy knows that he will never be recovered. He will always be recovering. He embraces life today and that makes all the difference in the world to him. Randy has a partner of sixteen years that supports his every endeavor. They live together in the Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn, NY.
Katheryn Roberson, PhD, EdM, has her doctorate in Counseling Psychology and has provided mental health services to communities of Color, primarily in NYC, for eight years. She has clinical experience working with children, adolescents, and adults. Currently, Dr. Roberson is a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Health Equity Research where she is working on projects related to reducing stigma in the Black community. She believes promoting mental health equity benefits from a two-pronged approach where (1) people are provided the resources to build resilience and promote health, and (2) systems that uphold inequity are challenged and transformed.
Tiara (she/her) is an ambitious leader, mental health advocate, and a community organizer who is dedicated to ensuring the voices of youth and young adults within underserved communities are not only heard, but recognized and used as a driving force for change within all child serving systems. Driven by her own lived experience with the foster care and mental health systems, her goal is to advocate for access to quality care for those within marginalized and oppressed communities. Tiara takes pride in her ability to provide skill development and create spaces where all youth and young adults can be empowered to take charge of their own lives. In addition to her primary job functions as the Director of Youth Power at FTNYS, Tiara is also an alumni of CUNY Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work where she obtained her Master of Social Work degree.
Stigma Researchers (click for details)
Helen-Maria (Marilena) Lekas, PhD joined the Nathan S. Kline Institute in 2016 as a Research Scientist in the Division of Social Solutions and Services Research, and as Co-Director of CCASE (Center for Research on Cultural and Structural Equity) http://ccase.org/about-us/vision/. She is an Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, NYU Grossman School of Medicine. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University and served as an Associate Professor at Mailman School of Public Health and built a 13-year NIH-funded research portfolio on infectious and chronic diseases in low-income and racialized communities. Engagement in medical care, patient-provider relationships, intersectional stigma, symptom interpretation and illness management in persons with behavioral health needs makeup her research agenda. Her projects are based on using applied, theory-driven research methods. Most recently, Dr. Lekas has developed a cultural and structural competence training for the peer advocate mental health workforce and is collaborating on a large-scale stigma-reducing initiative led by the Office of Mental Health of NYS. For a list of publications: https://med.nyu.edu/faculty/helen-maria-lekas
Philip T. Yanos, Ph.D., is native New Yorker and proud Greek-American. He is a professor of psychology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. A researcher who focuses on stigma and how it interferes with recovery among people diagnosed with mental illnesses, he is the author of Written Off: Mental Health Stigma and the Loss of Human Potential (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and associate editor for the journal Stigma and Health. He is the co-developer of Narrative Enhancement and Cognitive Therapy, a group-based treatment which addresses the effects of self-stigma among people diagnosed with mental illnesses that has been translated into several languages. He is the author of more than 100 articles and book chapters and has been principal investigator on several federally-funded research projects.