Breakout Sessions

All breakout sessions will repeat during the course of the day, so that attendees will have two opportunities to attend any one of the sessions. There will be a morning session before lunch and an afternoon session after lunch. All of the breakout presenters have graciously donated their time to be a part of this year’s Forum – and CAHM would like to thank them again for sharing their expertise and their wisdom with us this year!

Advance Care Planning for Family Members with Disabilities, Cognitive Impairment and/or Serious Mental Illness

What is Advance Care Planning?   If you have a family member with a disability, you want to assure they have the best possible care and quality of life, both now and later when you are no longer able to be the advocate you are today.  The needs of those with chronic disabilities, whether they are physical, cognitive or serious mental illness, are not just financial.  Every day brings issues concerning health, well-being, and proper care.  Advance Care Planning focuses on the whole life needs of the individual, not just the financial planning. The goal of advance care planning is to promote and maintain the good health, safety, well-being, and quality of life of loved ones with special needs, as well as their families.   For more information go to:

Art Heals

Expressive and healing arts are powerful tools for recovery.  Treat yourself to a day of self-discovery, emotional rejuvenation and a supportive community. Attendees will be guided through several easy, hands-on art activities that are designed to promote self-reflection and self-discovery to better cope with unresolved feelings, anxiety, regulating emotions, and the everyday stress of life.  Experience for yourself, through the healing power of art, the miraculous resiliency of the human spirit.

Ask the Doctor:  A candid conversation with our psychiatrist about convincing a loved one get help

Brainstorm with Dr. Mark Komrad, Board certified psychiatrist and author of You Need Help! A Step-by-Step Plan to Convince a Loved One to Get Counseling, on the variety of approaches to convince a troubled person in your life to have an evaluation by a mental health professional starting with supportive persuasion through therapeutic-coercion (which taps the power of family relationships), to using involuntary approaches if necessary to ensure that your loved ones get the help they need.  In addition, Dr. Komrad will answer any questions about mental health and substance abuse problems, the state-of-the-art approaches to psychiatric treatment, and all the burning questions you’ve always wanted to ask a psychiatrist, but for various reasons, have not yet been able to ask.  For more information go to:

“Don’t Worry, be Happy” isn’t Enough: How to help anxious people

Over 200,000 people in San Diego suffer from various forms of anxiety and the often accompanying depression. Understanding how common anxiety is and the different kinds of anxiety can be the first steps in helping individuals overcome the often crippling symptoms.  Tips for friends, family members and caregivers will be presented along with specific coping skills that can reduce the symptoms and help people have a normal life.  For more information go to:

Helping Families Move Beyond the Label:  Loving and/or Living with one of “Those People”

Panel Discussion:  This workshop includes parents, adult children and spouses of individuals with mental illness and/or substance abuse issues.  They will share their stories of advocacy for themselves and their loved ones which parallel the untold stories of so many stigmatized families who are navigating an often lonely road through crisis, despair, denial, diagnosis, treatment, recovery and more.  In the session they will discuss healthy methods of coping and setting boundaries by identifying and challenging common reactions and mistaken beliefs about mental illness and substance abuse.  This panel format will provide a supportive and safe environment to allow family members (immediate, extended and families of choice) to share their successes and struggles in attempting to reach out, advocate for and help their troubled loved ones seek help and navigate their individual roads to healing.  For more Information go to:;

Helping Families Understand Medication Management for Mental Illness

Panel Discussion:  Though the use of psychotropic medication in the treatment of many psychiatric conditions is common, the experience of taking those medications is unique to the individual.  The members of this panel will share their personal stories of how psychotropic medications have impacted their lives and the lives of their families so that attendees may better understand the realities of “medication management”.  And our clinical expert moderator, will help address issues that come up in the therapeutic setting when medication is a focus of concern for the individual or a family member.  For more information go to:;

Patient Rights, Advocacy, & Benefits:  Legal, ethical and financial resources

Panel Discussion:  Individuals who are diagnosed with mental illness and/or substance use issues (and their families) are all too often thrown into a system of care that often appears more complex than the U.S. tax code.  But experts are available to help navigate options and guide them through the process of applying for benefits, advocating for services, and accessing care.  Panelists will be addressing topics such as:  Social Security, Employment, Privacy and Confidentiality, Involuntary Treatment, Conservatorship, Patient Rights and more!  For more information go to:,,

Real Monsters: Real life with a Mental Illness

The art exhibit Real Monsters, by Toby Allen, is an ongoing personal project exploring mental illness through illustrations of mystical characters which depict the mental disorders as monsters.  The project aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and aims to educate individuals about less well known conditions. CSUSM students with lived mental illness experiences become Voices of Hope as they share their reactions to and interpretations of the exhibit and share their personal stories of treatment and recovery.   For more information go to:

Recovery International:  Giving people the tools to lead more peaceful and productive lives

Anyone.  Anywhere.  Anytime.  You are one step closer to making a difference in your life! Recovery International (RI) self-help groups change peoples’ lives for the better using a cognitive behavioral training method developed by the late neuro-psychiatrist Dr. Abraham A. Low. For over 80 years this method has helped members learn to identify and manage negative thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors that can lead to emotional distress and related physical symptoms.  Learn more about Recovery International and our proven techniques in this powerful workshop.  For more information go to:

Three Sides of Suicide:  Prevention, Intervention, & Postvention

Panel Discussion:  On average, one person in California dies by suicide every 2 hours.  In children and teens it is the third leading cause of death and in young adults, it is the second leading cause of death.  And among older adults in San Diego County, white men over the age of 75 are the most at risk for completing suicide.   We have a responsibility to become informed about how to prevent suicide in those who are suffering, know the resources available for early intervention and when in crisis, and the support available to the loved ones of those left behind when a suicide occurs.  This panel will help attendees gain an understanding of warning signs, intervention strategies, and opportunities for support for survivors to help address this epidemic in our community in a stigma-free environment of hope and healing.  For more information go to:;

What is Co-Occurring Illness:  What every family member needs to know about loved ones who have mental health AND substance abuse issues

When individuals have both mental health and substance abuse issues, it is called ‘Co-Occurring Illness’.  This workshop will address the challenges faced by individuals with Co-occurring illness, the families who love them, and the clinicians who work with them as a first step in developing empathy and compassion and improving quality of life.  The presentation will also identify effective techniques to help individuals decrease interpersonal conflict and increase healing through recovery that lasts.  For more information go to: