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2021 Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health-Virtual

  A group of young people standing outside smiling with their arms around each other

The theme of this year's conference is School Mental Health: Moving Forward Together. Each year, the Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health brings together leaders, practitioners, researchers, and other stakeholders in the school mental health field to share the latest research and best practices. The conference emphasizes a shared school-family-community agenda to bring high-quality and evidence-based mental health promotion, prevention, and intervention to students and families as part of a multi-tiered system of supports.

This conference is hosted by the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH; funded in part by the Health Resources and Services Administration). If you have any questions, please contact the NCSMH team at 410-706-0980 or

Agenda & Program Booklet

View the complete Program Booklet for sesssion details and more information.

Thursday, October 14, 2021 | Day One (all times in ET pm)

  • 12:00-12:15 Welcome and NCSMH Updates
  • 12:15-1:15 Keynote Address: Overcoming the Collective Trauma of the Pandemic: Creating Healing-Centered, Safe, Supportive, and Equitable Schools
    • Joyce Dorado, PhD
  • 1:15-1:25 Break
  • 1:25-2:25 Conference Session 1 (9 Breakout Sessions)
  • 2:25-2:35 Break
  • 2:35-3:35 Conference Session 2 (9 Breakout Sessions)
  • 3:35-3:45 Break
  • 3:45-4:45 Conference Session 3 (9 Breakout Sessions)
  • 4:45-5:00 Break
  • 5:00-6:00 Poster Session

Friday, October 15, 2021 | Day Two (all times in ET pm)

  • 12:00-12:05 Welcome
  • 12:05-1:05 Keynote Panel: Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Schools, Students, and School Staff Now
    • Jill Bohnenkamp, PhD
    • Anne Bowles, MS
    • Alex Mays, MS
  • 1:05-1:15 Awards
  • 1:15-1:25 Break
  • 1:25-2:25 Conference Session 4 (9 Breakout Sessions)
  • 2:25-2:35 Break
  • 2:35-3:35 Conference Session 5 (9 Breakout Sessions)
  • 3:35-3:45 Break
  • 3:45-5:00 Symposia Breakout Sessions

View the complete Program Booklet for sesssion details and more information.

Award Recipients

Juanita Cunningham Evans Memorial Award
2021 Recipient: Olga Acosta Price, PhD

The Juanita Cunningham Evans Memorial Award is awarded in on-going memorial to Juanita Cunningham Evans, LCSW, an instrumental developer of the National Center for School Mental Health. Juanita was the first Chief of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Adolescent Health. She was visionary in her leadership to improve the health and well-being of adolescents in the United States. The award is given to an individual who significantly impacted the advancement of school mental health policy, research, and/or practice.

This year’s winner of the Juanita Cunningham Evans Award is Dr. Olga Acosta Price.  Dr. Acosta Price is an Associate Professor at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and the Director of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools. Dr Acosta Price has been instrumental in driving school mental health policy, practice, and research and is highly-skilled, innovative, and effective in her efforts to support the well-being of all students. She is a leading thought-leader in the school mental health field. In the words of Dr. Lynn Goodman, Dean of the Milken Institute, She is a passionate advocate of school-based mental health services who has dedicated her formal training in clinical psychology to improving the lives of young people both nationally and here in our nation's capital. Giving voice to the concerns of young people has been an essential priority for Dr. Acosta Price for more than two decades. 

Youth and Family Partnership Award
2021 Recipient: Kentucky Student Voice Team

The Youth and Family Partnership Award is given to one exemplar school district, organization, or school mental health program that effectively partners with youth and families to lift youth voice to advance quality school mental health programming.

This year we were pleased to present the Youth and Family Partnership Award to the Kentucky Student Voice Team. The Student Voice Team was founded in 2012 by a group of high school students and adult partners who believe that student voices should be better integrated in education. As part of their mission, the Kentucky Student Voice Team supports students as research, advocacy, and policy partners to make Kentucky's education system more equitable through leading education lobbying efforts and other initiatives. The Awards committee was particularly impressed with their Coping with Covid research and their school climate and students as partners work. Thank you for partnering with youth as you work to amplify the experiences of youth in Kentucky!

School Mental Health Champion Award
2021 Recipient: Bureau of Indian Education and Indian Health Service School Mental Health Team

The School Mental Health Champion Award acknowledges an individual or group who has provided exceptional leadership and vision in the advancement of school mental health.

We were honored to present the 2021 School Mental Health Champion Award to the Bureau of Indian Education and Indian Health Service School Mental Health Leadership Team. This multi-agency leadership team with support from their respective agency leadership is dedicated to finding new pathways and partnerships to better support the mental well-being and amazing potential that exist in every single American Indian and Alaska Native youth. This innovative team joined the National Quality Initiative for School Health Services Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network, CoIIN Learning Community this year, and is leading a team focused specifically on driving improvements in comprehensive school mental health systems for American Indian and Alaska Native across the United States. It has been an honor to meet and work with this dynamic team and I’m so pleased to join with colleagues across the nation in congratulating them on receiving this award and for the tremendous work that they are doing to support American Indian and Alaska Native youth. 

School Mental Health Research Award
2021 Recipient: Michael Kelly, PhD, awarded posthumously

The Research Award is presented to an individual who has published research that has made important contributions to research and practice in school mental health.

Michael Kelly, Professor and Lucian Welch and Carol Matusak Endowed Chair at Loyola University of Chicago School of Social Work, died on Thursday, September 2, 2021. Michael was a long-time partner to our National Center for School Mental Health, an active and engaged attendee of our annual conference and research summit. He believed deeply in practice-based evidence and breaking down the walls of academia to promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners to make lives better for students. He was a cherished mentor by school social workers and mental health professionals across the globe.

Michael Kelly headshot

Continuing Education

Continuing education will be offered for live sessions for counselors, marriage/family therapists, nurses, psychologists, and social workers.

Exhibitors & Sponsors

If you are interested in exhibiting or sponsoring, please contact Dr. Sylvia McCree-Huntley at See below for more information:



Exhibit Hall

Registration & Cost

Register Now!

  • On-demand sessions are available through December 31, 2021.
  • Register with promo code RECORDED to access only the on-demand sessions for $99.
  • View the On-Demand Sessions program booklet.



All presenters must register for the conference. Upon registration (and on the days leading up to the conference) all presenters and attendees will receive emails with the live conference URL and password. Within that site, you can find the link for your presentation room. Please join your room 30 min before the start time for your session to meet with your moderator.

Live Conference Session

This Presenter Toolkit for Live Sessions provides guidance on planning, preparing your presentation. We’ll step you through from start to finish.

Pre-Recorded Conference Session

Recording your presentation for a virtual audience may be a new experience for many speakers. This Presenter Toolkit for Pre-recorded Conference Sessions provides guidance on planning, preparing, and submitting your presentation. We’ll step you through from start to finish.

Disclosure Slide

Some of the training qualify for Category I/A  for Live Sessions / Category II/B for Pre-Recorded Sessions for continuing education units. Presenters at the Annual Conference must include a disclosure slide indicating whether there is a relationship that should be disclosed. This disclosure slide should be listed before your learning objectives and content.

Previous Annual Conferences