The 8th Annual Living Health, Balance, and Hope Symposium hosted by Porter-Starke Services took place at Valparaiso University on Thursday, May 25th. The Symposium, breakfast and breakout training sessions served as a robust educational experience on mental health service and treatment for health care professionals, educators, and community mental health advocates.
This year’s theme was “Mind Over Mood: Simple and Practical Tools for Everyday Living.” Keynote speaker was the renowned psychotherapist, author, and cognitive behavior educator and researcher, Dr. Christine Padesky, who encouraged attendees to use practical suggestions for mood management in their lives.
Century 21 Alliance Group’s Nick Sommer, Porter-Starke Foundation executive board member said, “Every year this event never ceases to amaze me with the amount of information participants get. It’s a hidden educational gem of Valparaiso that people should take advantage of, and with this important issue for our community, we feel the need to do this.”
Rocco Schiralli, CEO of Porter-Starke Services, Inc., discussed how the Symposium benefits the community.
“We cannot underestimate the need to educate the community on issues of mental health and addiction, to get rid of the stigma, to have communities that embrace all their members,” Schiralli said. “Unfortunately, there’s still work to be done in the area of mental health and addiction. Sometimes solutions seem to be working well, but you’re reminded there’s more work in awareness and training that needs to be done.”
Schiralli also described how the Porter-Starke Services Foundation fundraising arm helps make clinical training for official credits more affordable for students pursuing future careers in counseling, psychology, and psychiatry. Other missions include more affordable and available mental health treatment and awareness education.
Introducing the keynote speaker was Sandy Carlson, Vice President of Clinical Services at Porter-Starke. She observed the Symposium is “a place to gather and find something new, to be renewed professionally. It’s also a place to inform the community about mental illnesses and different techniques and skills we can use to help people.”
Dr. Padesky involved the audience through worksheets that track mood and exercises that would help with day-to-day management of mood and mind. She encouraged listeners through the use of seven basic skills, including: accomplishment and pleasure, approaching problems, gratitude, identifying thoughts and images, testing thoughts and images, acceptance, and imagination, to find “opportunities to use mood skills to apply them in their lives.”
In her closing, Padesky wanted participants to “experiment and imagine the person you’d like to be and the moods you want to feel. And practice it.”
Jessica McFadden, foundation coordinator for Porter-Starke Services Foundation, described purposes of the breakfast portion of the event.
“The morning session is open to the community for people to take information they can use in their everyday lives, and awareness that mental health issues affect everyone, from depression to PTSD—no one is immune. Also, we celebrate our differences,” said McFadden.
She also noted that foundation curated events, such as the annual Turkey Trot every November in Valparaiso, are successful in both fundraising and awareness-raising.
Elliott Miller, Porter-Starke director of marketing and development, summed up the day of activities.
“Not everyone needs to come in for treatment at Porter-Starke, but anyone can benefit from a message of health, balance, and hope presented here through our keynote speaker and breakout sessions,” Miller said. “People in the community can apply principles learned here on themselves and for others.”