The year 2020 gave us all ample opportunity to attend our fair share of virtual conferences. Each has brought its own special something to the table, providing different experiences for attendees and presenters alike. NBCC takes pride in successfully being able to bring together mental health practitioners and educators from across the globe to learn from one another at the International Capacity Building Department's first conference, Mental Health Connections: Counseling Across the Globe.
The conference was developed to allow counselors from around the world to connect and share about the experiences of counselors in their country during the pandemic. During the opening session, NBCC and Affiliates President and CEO Kylie Dotson-Blake commented, “What we all know though, is that in times of immense challenge, we also need a space for peace, a space to connect with each other, and to share the lessons that we are learning. A space to share experiences with others who are working toward the same goals. We hope that this conference can help to create that space, if even for just a brief time, for all of you.”
Attendees had the opportunity to learn from leaders from around the world, exploring how different cultures approach mental health in their communities. Representatives from communities in Argentina, Bulgaria, Greece, Mexico, the Philippines, Portugal, the Sangkeeng First Nation, Uganda, and the White Earth Nation spoke on how they address their community’s unique mental health challenges.
“It can be difficult to find opportunities to learn from individuals in cultures different from our own,” says Director of International Capacity Building Wendi Schweiger. “Intentionally and continuously expanding our worldview is essential to the work that we do as counselors and mental health providers.”
In addition to learning from one another, there was a push to work together toward common goals across communities. “We hope that this conference serves as an amplification of our international partners’ voices in the worldwide conversation about how we best serve clients, students, and communities in the areas of mental health and counseling,” says Dotson-Blake.
Although this conference was developed in response to the pandemic, the overwhelming positive feedback we have received has driven the decision to continue this conference in future years.
“It was amazing to experience the impact that this conference had on expanding our efforts to a wide range of individuals,” says Schweiger. “Our team is excited to see how it continues to develop and grow over time.”