On October 2, 2008, Woodley House hosted its 50th Anniversary Conference entitled Beyond the Barriers: New Frontiers in Mental Health. Held at the Canadian Embassy, this symposium focused on the issues, options and trends that affect the care and treatment of the mentally ill in the early 21st century. Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter gave the opening remarks, talking about her early interest in mental health issues, dating back to when her husband first ran for governor of Georgia in 1966. He appointed her to the Commission to Improve Services for the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped in 1970. Her interest continued over the years and in 1988, the Carter Center introduced Project Interconnections to form public-private partnerships to provide housing for homeless people with mental illness. “Stable housing is a key first step on the road to recovery” she reported, “I commend Woodley House. We all have to support and work to develop more programs like this.”
Following Mrs. Carter’s opening remarks, a series of informative panels covered a wide range of topics from ‘The Politics of Policy in Mental Health’ with moderator Robert Boorstin and panelists Bernard Arons, MD, Susan Blumenthal, MD and the Hon. David Catania to ‘The Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness’ moderated by authorÂ Pete Earley. Thomas Insel, MD, Director of NIMH, spoke about ‘Charting a Path Toward Prevedntion of Mental Illness; and Woodley House executive director, Gary Frye, moderated a panel on ‘The Future of Community-Based Residential Treatment.’
This was a thought-provoking and informative conference that brought together experts in the mental health field and made for an intellectually exciting day.