NatCon18 Program

Health Care's Behavioral Health Conference has Something for Everyone.

NatCon18 Preliminary Program

Download this year's preliminary program to see what we have in store.

NatCon18 Tracks and Sessions Preview

Get a sneak preview of the tracks and sessions for NatCon18.

NatCon18 Schedule-at-a-Glance

Download and print a brief overview of the exciting schedule for NatCon18.

NatCon18 brings you the BEST:

  • The BEST behavioral health conference program: NatCon is recognized as the premier conference in behavioral health. From the Opening Session to the Final Remarks, NatCon is packed with the information you need to energize, inspire and accelerate your business.
  • The BEST Preconference UniversitiesTake a deep dive BEFORE NatCon18 even begins! Preconference Universities will help you enhance your professional skills, expand your business expertise and empower yourself and your organization with full-day or half-day sessions on the topics that matter to you.
  • The BEST industry-wide recognition: Celebrate the people and organizations at the forefront of innovation, commitment to exceptional quality and compassionate care at the Awards of Excellence celebration dinner.
  • The BEST grass-roots advocacyJoin hundreds of like-minded advocates on the last day of the conference and be heard on Capitol Hill. You’ll meet with your representatives and give a voice to the millions of Americans living with mental illness and addictions to champion legislation that improves access to comprehensive care.

NatCon17 Program

Download last year's program to get a sense of the great curriculum offered at NatCon.

Event Contact

For more information, contact Tenikka Greene at

Preconference Universities

These in-demand programs provide excellent supplemental training opportunities across a wide range of subject areas and professional skills. Register today before they fill up!

Seasoned Leaders (SL)

Sunday, April 22; 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Be the leader you admire most. Examine how your leadership affects your organization. Better engage and empower your staff to excel in your innovative organization.

The Seasoned Leaders program is your chance to join other powerhouse behavioral health leaders and our prestigious faculty, Jack McCarthy, Director of the Executive Development Roundtable at Boston University Questrom School of Business, to:

  • Gain greater understanding of the unique pressures you face as a leader.
  • Identify specific actions to improve your organization.
  • Strategize how to best lead amid relentless change.

The Seasoned Leaders Preconference University is a full-day training for behavioral health executives with more than 15 years of leadership experience. With admittance, you also get “backstage” privileges throughout NatCon18, like one-on-one discussions with big speakers.

Share innovations. Learn new strategies. Prepare for the future.

Presenter: Jack McCarthy, Director of the Executive Development Roundtable, Boston University Questrom School of Business

Want to register for the Seasoned Leaders program?  Please fill out the registration form and follow directions included in the form.

Give the Presentation of Your Life (FD1)

Sunday, April 22; 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Do you want to inspire people like a championship coach on game day, but feel your presentation skills fall short? Suit up for this intensive, one-day training camp with Gerry Sandusky, executive media coach, author and voice of the Baltimore Ravens. You will master a 10-step process for building presentations, speeches and meeting agendas, developing techniques to identify and close communication gaps, energize audiences and expand your ability to achieve objectives. Be ready to participate in extensive exercises and role playing to identify and eliminate bad habits and learn those that make a persuasive presentation. Learn what to eliminate from presentations, how to use multimedia and how to develop a story database to dramatically increase audience retention.

Presenter: Gerry Sandusky, Executive Media Coach, American Sports Broadcaster, The Sandusky Group

Be a VBP VIP (FD2)

Sunday, April 22; 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sweeping changes are afoot as our system shifts from incentivizing volume to value. Community behavioral health providers are facing unprecedented pressure to accelerate transformation to demonstrate organizational value in this ever-changing healthcare landscape. Don’t get caught flat-footed, join this Preconference University to learn how to operationalize a population health approach, benchmark clinical improvements and develop your value proposition to put yourself in the driver’s seat during payer negotiations.

Participants will leave this full-day Preconference University with the keys to:

  • Embrace the new paradigm of population health management
  • Harness data to benchmark clinical improvements
  • Unlock the secrets of negotiating contracts with payers

Presenters: Kate Davidson and Nina Marshall, National Council for Behavioral Health; Adam Falcone, Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP

Work Smarter, Live Better (FD3)

Sunday, April 22; 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Most of us work in a retaliatory style, just reacting to devices, demands, people, and distractions all day. This leads to autopilot overwhelm, stress, time urgency and burnout. The full-day Work Smarter, Live Better training, from work-life balance leader Joe Robinson, seen on CNN and Today, gives you strategies to manage demands, devices and stress, and increase satisfaction on and off the job.

The program focuses on how we can manage our emotions and reactions to the key areas of pressure — from time management to stress management, overwhelm, multitasking, information management, and managing home demands — by making critical adjustments that science shows are more effective. The program offers tools to increase resilience and optimism, recharge brains and bodies, and activate the most gratifying life.

Presenter: Joe Robinson, Work-Life Balance Leader

Comprehensive Suicide Care to Address Hard-to-Reach Populations (FD4)

Sunday, April 22; 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Health care organizations that have adopted a Zero Suicide framework have seen dramatic reductions in suicide. A holistic and systematic approach to quality improvement and patient safety, Zero Suicide is both a bold goal and an aspirational challenge. While the foundational components of care do not change significantly, implementation can be tailored for use in varied health care settings such as primary care, outpatient behavioral health, addictions organizations, and inpatient psychiatric hospitals. Additionally, care practices and training for health care staff can be adapted to address groups with disproportionately higher rates of suicide. This session will introduce participants to best practices in comprehensive suicide care. We will highlight recent research on deaths of despair – drug overdoses, suicide and alcohol–related liver disease – and how the Zero Suicide framework can be tailored to serve patient populations with higher rates of suicide and may be more difficult to engage or link to care. Finally, implementation supports available to organizations interested in implementing the Zero Suicide model will be shared.

After participating in this session, participants will be able to:

  1. State how a bundled, comprehensive approach to care is essential to reducing suicide in health care organizations.
  2. Describe how the Zero Suicide model can be adapted for different segments of the population who may be at increased risk for suicide.
  3. Consider ways to incorporate the voice of lived experience in suicide care.
  4. Understand how to access the available supports and resources for implementing comprehensive suicide care by a health care organization.

Presenters:  David Covington, LPC, MBA, CEO and President, RI International; Julie Goldstein Grumet, PhD, Director, The Zero Suicide Institute, EDC; Leah Harris, Peer Integration Strategist, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors; Mike Hogan, PhD, President, Hogan Health Solutions; Virna Little, PsyD, LCSW-R, SAP, Strategic Planner, Center for Innovation in Mental Health, School of Public Health, City University of New York; Richard McKeon, PhD, Chief, Suicide Prevention Branch, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration; Becky Stoll, LCSW, Vice President, Crisis & Disaster Management, Centerstone; Caitlin Thompson, PhD, Vice President, Risk Management and Program Evaluation, Cohen Veterans Network

Cannabis Conundrum: Perspectives on Practice in a Shifting Landscape (FD5)

Sunday, April 22; 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

In a rapidly evolving environment where 29 states and the District of Columbia have some form of legalization, decriminalization or medical use of marijuana, behavioral health providers are looking for definitive guidance on best practices for treatment and prevention. How are practitioners making informed decisions based on science, policy and best practices? How are they assessing sources of information – medical, scientific, media, public – and applying it to every day clinical practice?

At the crossroads of “what we know” and “what we don’t,” is the critical space for discussion and decision-making about best practices.

Explore the issues surrounding the science of cannabis, prevention and treatment with thought leaders in research and practice, as well as practitioners in the field. This day of in-depth examination of the complex and evolving questions of cannabis in clinical practice will include:

  • How do we manage clients with medical marijuana cards?
  • What are clinics doing with mandated clients?
  • What are the conditions that cannabis treats?
  • How do we understand cannabis use in relation to opioid and other drug use?
  • How can we help clients with co-occurring conditions?
  • What does effective prevention look like?
  • What about workforce issues involving cannabis use?
  • How do we treat clients referred by employee assistance programs?

Keynote Presenters:

John Kelly, Ph.D
Elizabeth R. Spallin Associate Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Founder and Director of Recovery Research Institute

Susan Weiss, Ph.D
Director, Division of Extramural Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse

Hill Day Policy Institute - FREE (HD1)

Sunday, April 22; 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

At NatCon18, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with their legislators as part of National Council's Hill Day 2018. To prepare for meetings with your legislators on Capitol Hill be sure to attend this FREE Preconference University! This half-day session will feature advocacy training for both veterans and first-timers alike. National Council policy staff will be onsite to do a deep-dive into the issues of the day and walk through the talking points for the Hill Day 2018 "asks." By the end of the day, advocates will be well-prepared to facilitate meaningful and effective meetings with legislators and staff on Capitol Hill. Individual sessions from this Preconference University will also be offered via the Hill Day Track during the conference, making this Preconference session appropriate for those who wish to join Hill visits, but also want to attend other events during NatCon18. Join us for topnotch advocacy trainings and a crash course in federal behavioral health policy and politics!


Innovative Services for Older Adults with Complex Care Needs (HD3)

Sunday, April 22; 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Is your organization ready to support people with serious mental illnesses as they age? Are you interested in emerging possibilities to serve your broader community of aging adults?

By 2050 – people aged 65 and over, will surge by 65 percent. And, as we age there is often the onset of chronic physical conditions, changes in cognition and appearance, and impairment in functioning. It is estimated that 20-25 percent of older adults have substance use problems, 3 percent have a serious mental illness. Now you have the chance to better address the needs of the aging adults you currently serve as well as expand who you help and how you help them.

This Preconference University offers the opportunity to understand the impacts of aging and learn the strategies and care models that best address the limitations of aging and maintain independence. Join the experts and participate in a lively half–day of information, learning and discussion.

A Path to Value in a Value-Based World (HD4)

Sunday, April 22; 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

This informative faculty is ready to share methods and lessons learned along early pathways to value based care. Whether you are big or small, rural or urban, moving to performance contracts or staying fee-for-service, you’ll leave with valuable information benefitting you and your organization.

  • Case Study: Learn how a community came together to reduce unnecessary emergency department presentations using rapid cycle improvement.  Congregate care staff were trained in Mental Health First Aid, an existing mobile team conducted check-in visits during non-call time and WRAP plans were developed. This module covers rapid process improvement, creative use of existing resources and community building among hospitals, behavioral health providers, EMTs and residential services.
  • Case Study:  Virtual patient navigation. Carolinas HealthCare System is choosing to invest in reducing preventable ED presentations by funding virtual patient navigators.  Learn how to use technology to scale a program and a small staff to meet the needs of patients over a large geographical area. Additionally, Carolinas HealthCare System will share how integrating care for BH care provides better patient outcomes.
  • Create connection between behavioral health and medical providers in your community.  Use the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s "What Matters to You?" initiative to see the world through the patient's lens. This work is soon to be a module on the American Medical Association’s steps to value based payment.

Presenters:  Kristin Woodlock, Woodlock & Associates, LLC; Christine Zazzaro, AVP & Wayne Sparks MD Medical Director, Carolinas HealthCare System; Damara Gutnick, M.D., Montefiore Hudson Valley Collaborative Preforming Provider System

From Engagement to Activation Using a Trauma-Informed, Wellness Approach (HD5)

Sunday, April 22; 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Are your programs struggling to demonstrate positive outcomes? Are your clients abandoning their health goals? Is your organization experiencing low staff satisfaction and high turnover?

If these questions resonate with you, book your seat now for this powerful Preconference University.

In today’s competitive value-based purchasing health care marketplace, we must find ways to increase client activation to realize positive health outcomes. Embracing a culture of trauma-informed, wellness-oriented care engages your clients in their recovery by prioritizing their experience and supporting them in making their own decisions for positive behavioral changes to achieve health care goals.

This approach incorporates evidence-based health care integration approaches with trauma-informed care. Using established tools like motivational interviewing and collaborative documentation to establish a holistic, patient-centered approach to treatment, your clients become active participants in their own health outcomes. Learn how to empower your staff, improve your outcomes and enhance your bottom line with new-found skills that will enable you to:

  • Conduct an organizational self-assessment
  • Deliver a comprehensive unified approach to activating clients toward health behavior change
  • Motivate clients to make health behavioral changes
  • Enhance and improve your clients’ experience of care
  • Achieve better health outcomes and more satisfied staff

CCBHCs: Drilling Down on the Factors for Clinical, Operational and Financial Success (HD6)

Sunday, April 22; 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) are nearing the end of their first year of operations and looking to build on their successes in Year 2 – when their performance in the program evaluation will have a far-reaching impact on the future expansion of the demonstration.

As a CCBHC, are you equipped to succeed? What challenges do you face in the year ahead? How can you take your operations to the next level? In response to popular request, the National Council is pleased to announce a Preconference University open to all CCBHCs, bringing together experts for a deep dive into pressing topics, combined with networking opportunities to help you learn best practices and success stories from your peers. This unique and intensive session will help you assess your operations and provide actionable steps in strengthening gap areas within your CCBHC’s clinical practice, data reporting and quality improvement, and financial health.

Participation is limited to staff and executives of clinics certified as CCBHCs, along with clinics that are participating in the CCBHC Community of Practice (both the Master Class and the Peer Learning Network). This half-day event is designed as an add-on to the CCBHC Conference Track and the CCBHC Community of Practice; new and distinct content will be presented.

Mental Health First Aid Instructor Summit 2018

Sunday, April 22; 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Mental Health First Aid is a skills-based training program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health concerns and gives participants actionable tools to respond to people facing mental health or substance use challenges. The course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis, select interventions and provide initial help and connect people to professional, peer and social supports, as well as self-help resources.

Open exclusively to Instructors, the Summit is a unique opportunity for accomplished Instructors and those new to Mental Health First Aid to come together to learn from experts on various topics, share best practices on building a successful program and be inspired by leaders in the movement. This Preconference Summit is free for Mental Health First Aid Instructors.

WHAM Training

Saturday, April 21; 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM and Sunday, April 22; 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) training is designed for peer specialists by peer specialists for people with chronic health and behavioral health conditions that activates self-management to create and sustain new health behavior. WHAM aims to counter the high incidence of chronic physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity among people living with mental illnesses and addictions. Through facilitated group sessions focused on setting strengths-based whole health goals, WHAM participants learn to:

  • Identify strengths and supports in 10 science-based whole health and resiliency factors.
  • Write a concise whole health goal based on person-centered planning.
  • Create and log a weekly action plan.
  • Participate in peer support to create new health behavior.
  • Elicit the Relaxation Response.
  • Engage in cognitive skills to avoid negative thinking.
  • Prepare for basic whole health screenings.
  • Use shared decision-making skills and tools for engaging with doctors.

Participants who attend the two-day, onsite training based on curriculum developed by the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions (run by the National Council for Behavioral Health) learn about the WHAM process and are certified to facilitate eight-week WHAM peer support groups.

Middle Management Academy

Wednesday, April 18 – Saturday, April 21

The Middle Management Academy (MMA) is the only program of its kind that puts new and experienced managers on the leadership fast track by improving performance and results. Steeped in proven business strategy, MMA is intensive, practical and highly interactive training that helps participants understand what great managers do differently and how to implement those lessons on the job. The program focuses on three core competencies — managing budgets and financial information, motivating and managing employees and applying appropriate leadership styles to everyday situations.

MMA is an in-person, 3.5-day group training program customized specifically to respond to the needs of health care safety-net staff. It has graduated more than 2,000 managers, earning the appreciation of participants, as well as their CEOs. Check back for additional information soon.

Awards of Excellence

Held each year during NatCon, the Awards of Excellence Celebration is your opportunity to meet the rock stars of the behavioral health industry and hear their inspiring stories of hope and achievement.

We’re excited to celebrate this year’s honorees on April 24, 2018, at the Gaylord National Resort. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this unforgettable night.

Both tables and individual tickets are available for purchase.

Nominate someone for the Awards of Excellence today. The call for applications is now open!

Hill Day

NatCon18 attendees have a unique opportunity to participate in National Council’s Hill Day 2018, the largest behavioral health advocacy event of the year, combining the strength of 20 national mental health and addiction organizations.

Behavioral health providers, C-suite executives, board members, consumers and community stakeholders participate in sessions and workshops on federal behavioral health policy. They then apply their newfound skills on Capitol Hill where they advocate for better resources for mental health and addictions treatment.

As the future of health care in the US remains uncertain, Hill Day 2018 is a unique opportunity to be a strong voice on behalf of our clients.