Mental Health Summit

Empowering Minds, Removing Labels, Charting a Path to Mental Wellness

April 29, 2023

9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Location:  St. Paul  (114 W. Forrest Hill Ave.  |  Peoria, IL 61614)

Sponsored by:

Sponsored by:

Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Kevin Thomas

National Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Certified Relationship Specialist (CRS)
Kevin Thomas is a mental health advocate, an Army veteran, and an ordained minister with 15 years of experience working in mental health. He is currently the clinical director for Lantern Therapy Services and Beacon of Enlightenment, where he specializes in marriage and family therapy and trauma therapy. Kevin is a National Certified Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, and certified in Psychological First Aid. He is also a doctoral candidate at Liberty University, conducting research on the impact of trauma on African Americans' motivation to pursue higher education.

Kevin hosts a biweekly podcast called MENtality Unchained, where he focuses on Black people's mental health within the culture. He has served as a keynote speaker on racial trauma and practical mental health, and he hosts mental health events and seminars, including the annual mental health forum "Bridging the Gap." Kevin believes in educating the community on mental health's importance and creating ongoing dialogue to help others heal from trauma.

Breakout Sessions

Undiagnosed and Untreated
Mental Health in Our Community

Room:  B13-14
Ryan Hobson

Mental Health and
the Cost of Caring

Room:  B17-18
Dr. Bernice King

Addressing the Elephant in the Room:  SUICIDE

Room: B29
Annette Wlodarczyk

Talking About Mental Health with your Parents

Room:  B26
Pastor Patrick Randall

CoOccurring Disorders

The Relationship between Substance Use Disorders & Mental Illness

Room:  B25
Virles Aina

Signs and Symptoms

Room:  B27-28
Denise King

Undiagnosed and Untreated Mental Health in Our Community

The "Undiagnosed and Untreated Mental Health in Our Community" breakout session will explore the prevalence of mental health issues that go undiagnosed and untreated in our society. This session will provide an opportunity to discuss the cultural, social, and economic factors that contribute to the underdiagnosis and undertreatment of mental health conditions. Participants will gain a better understanding of the impact of unaddressed mental health issues on individuals, families, and communities. The session will also highlight the importance of reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and increasing access to mental health services for marginalized and underserved populations.
  Room:  B13-14


Ryan Hobson

Mental Health and the Cost of Caring

Caring for others is a beautiful, humanistic trait; however, without boundaries those same traits can lead to emotional bankruptcy. Are you or someone you know a careaholic? This workshop helps to identify root causes leading to careaholism and strategies for recovery and establishing healthy boundaries.
Room:  B17-18

Dr. Bernice Gordon-Young

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: SUICIDE

This presentation will cover a brief overview of some daunting statistics, the warning signs, risk factors and protective factors of suicide. The session will look at how things might not always look as they truly  are and the importance of asking questions and assisting those experiencing mental health situations to not ignore their pain. Participants will be given guidelines on how to talk to friends and family about suicide.
Room:  B29

Annette Wlodarczyk

Talking About Mental Health
with Your Parents

Discussing mental health with parents can be a challenging topic as it is often neglected or considered uncomfortable to talk about. However, it's important to create an open pathway for our children to discuss their feelings with us. So, how can we make it easier for them to talk about what's uncomfortable but necessary? By normalizing the conversation and actively encouraging them to share their thoughts and emotions with us. Let's prioritize discussing mental health and create a safe space for open and honest conversations.
Room:  B26

Pastor Patrick Randall

Co-Occurring Disorders

The Relationship Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness

This presentation will explore the complex relationship between substance use disorders and mental illness, including the common risk factors, the effects of substance abuse on mental health, and the challenges of treating these conditions simultaneously.
Room:  B25

Virles Aina

Signs and Symptoms

You are more likely to encounter someone in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack. This session will help people recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness  and what steps to take.  This session is for anyone - parents, neighbors, students, first responders, teachers, leaders of faith communities, human resources professionals, and caring citizens.  Be part of the solution.
Room:  B27-28

Denise King


Virles Aina

Licensed Social Worker and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor
Virles Aina is a Licensed Social Worker and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the State of Illinois.  Virles received her Master’s in Social Work through the University of Illinois. She has been an integral part of the Unity Point Behavioral Health Team since 2016.  Virles is a strong, passionate person who has been serving her community with a focus on mental health and substance abuse.  
She has vast experience with multiple local organizations including, Children’s Home, Goodwill, and Center for Prevention of Abuse.  Virles holds various certifications in trainings specific to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Elder Abuse.  It is with that passionate spirit, kind heart, and education that Virles has been able to help her patients overcome their traumas and life’s obstacles through Evidence Based Practices, coping techniques and community resources.

Dr. Bernice Gordon-Young

Founder and CEO of It Takes a Village Peoria
Dr. Bernice Gordon-Young is a licensed psychotherapist, entrepreneur, not-for-profit founder, and social change agent. She is employed at the Peoria County Jail, where she counsels detainees and assist with crisis management. She is the owner of Smart Recovery Intervention Counseling Center, where she provide counseling services to children, adolescents, and adults. To support the surge in mental health challenges associated with pandemic fatigue and race-based trauma, she also counsels men, women, and children around the globe through telehealth. Dr. Gordon-Young is the Founder and President of It Takes a Village of Peoria, Inc. a not-for-profit organization founded in 2016 and is aimed at assisting children and their families with basic needs at no cost. She serves on numerous Boards, including the Illinois Opioid Remediation Advisory Board, Health and Human Services Committee of the Racial Justice Commission for the City of Peoria, Central Illinois Friends, the Women’s Fund, Central Illinois Lupus Support Group, and Central Illinois Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She has received numerous awards for her efforts, including WEEK 25 Women in Leadership, Peoria Public Schools Community Contribution Award, and most recently, Dr. Gordon-Young was elected to serve on the Peoria City Council.

Ryan Hobson Sr.

Illinois Crisis Negotiators Association
Ryan Hobson Sr. has dedicated almost 27 years of his career to the mental health community. He graduated from MacMurray College and began working at an ICF, which is commonly referred to as a nursing home. After this, he became a psycho-social rehabilitator service coordinator. He then continued to further his career at the Human Service Center as an outpatient mental health casemanager. Ryan also facilitated many mental health groups and was a member of the psycho-social team. He later joined the Emergency Response Service team, where he completed county and city field psych evaluations, which largely involved calls for suicidal and homicidal ideation, as well as assessing and addressing family disputes and linkage for public intoxication.

Ryan is a member of the Illinois Crisis Negotiators Association and has been involved in crisis counseling for many years. He is only two months away from completing 25 years of work as a crisis counselor for the same company. Additionally, Ryan sits on boards and is involved in a mentor group for at-risk youth. He is a proud member of The Church Of Living God and is actively involved in the youth ministry. Ryan is grounded in his faith and gives unselfishly to his community.

Denise King

Manager of Community Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Use Services at Trillium Place
Denise King graduated from Bradley University with a Master's in Community Clinical Psychology.  With over 31 years of experience in community mental health, she is dually licensed and certified in both mental health and substance use services. Currently, King serves as the Manager of Community Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Use Services at Trillium Place, an affiliate of Carle Health.

Pastor Patrick Randall

Pastor of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church and Youth Services Director at the Neighbor House of Peoria
Pastor Patrick Randall is the current Pastor of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church and Youth Services Director at the Neighbor House of Peoria. He has spent the majority of his adult life working in mental health. Most notability he spent 20 years working with adults with mental illness. 
Pastor Randall conducted trainings as a Certified Crisis Prevention Intervention Instructor.  More recently working as a Behavioral Health Specialist at Unity Point Methodist ERS. It was during this time he worked with both adults and children. Working with the Peoria Police Department to provide assessment and recommendation for best course of action.

Annette Wlodarczyk

BSW, CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor) , CRSS (Certified  Recovery Support Specialist )
Annette Wlodarczyk  has been employed in the Human Services field for over 35 years. She is currently employed at Unity Point-Unity Place (soon to be part of Carle Health)  in Peoria IL She has been employed here for over 10 years and currently is the supervisor for peer services in 3 programs.   Annette has facilitated training  and been a part of the regional  recovery conferences for the past 10 years.
 She is also  the program coordinator for the agency’s Peer Academy. Her motto for lived recovery is “Learn, Love and Live Life one moment at a time.”   She holds a BSW, CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor) , CRSS (Certified  Recovery Support Specialist ) and is also a certified trainer for WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning).