Virtual conference

Mental health is at the center of the virtual conference

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., October 14, 2022 – West Liberty University College of Education and Human Performance continued its efforts to support community mental health by partnering with NAMI Wheeling again for his October conference, “Shedding Light on Mental Illness”.

Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education Kathleen Wack

“The annual conference was a great success. We are grateful to the presenters and attendees for joining us in sharing helpful insights into mental health,” said Professor Kathleen Wack, who has led the effort at WLU since 2018.

Special Assistant to the President for DCI and Strategic Initiatives Dr. Monique L. Akassi

Wack is part of the conference planning committee which is responsible for bringing nationally recognized speakers and experts in the field of mental health, prevention and education to the region.

New to the conference this year was Special Assistant to the WLU President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Monique L. Akassi.

Akassi addressed the topic of DEI by presenting a lecture titled: “A (re)examination of the critical role of mental health for diverse, equitable and inclusive higher education and beyond.

“Dr. Akassi joined a respected group of presenters and brought a unique perspective; that of higher education, workplace, DEI and mental health, which was timely and meaningful to our community,” said Wack.

More than 100 people registered to participate in the conference which was presented on Zoom on October 6 during Mental Illness Awareness Week, a national initiative.

Other topics and presenters include:

  • “A Framework for Integrating Behavioral Health in the School Setting,” presented by Casey Jo Cottrill, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist
  • “Supporting Trans and Gender Diverse Youth,” presented by Chantel Weisenmuller, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, WVU School of Medicine Charleston.
  • “Creating Safe Spaces for People with Autism Spectrum Disorders”, presented by Marc Ellison, Ed.D, LPC, ALPS.

Unique partnerships between the university, a community organization, health care providers and businesses have been established to deliver the conference.

“Our vision is that this conference can both cultivate partnerships and collaborations among all participants so that we can have a real impact on the community,” Wack explained.

Graduate credits and continuing education units were offered to a diverse group of professionals, health care providers and educators at low cost. Participants earned CEUs in social work, counseling, nursing, marriage and family therapy, psychology, or law enforcement. WLU Graduate Credit was offered to educators and other members of the community.

The synchronous sessions offered the opportunity to interact live with the speaker and other professionals. Session recordings are now published on Raising station to allow maximum flexibility to learn at a convenient time.

In addition to Wack, other members of the planning committee include:

  • Julie Gomez, Executive Director of NAMI Wheeling (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
  • Melody Osborne, Adolescent Health Initiative Coordinator, Marshall County Family Resource Network
  • Lauren Brown, NAMI Wheeling Program Manager

For more information, please visit: or contact Wack by email at [email protected] or by phone at 304.336.8535.