Mental Health & Stigma Conversations with Patient Advocates Gabe Howard & Rie Lopez

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Did you know that 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year (NIMH .org)? In an effort to amplify the voices of those living with or experiencing mental health or behavioral health issues, here are a few video discussions aiming to bring awareness to stigma and its effect on wellbeing.



GABE HOWARD is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. In 2003, he was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital.

“Its weird that in this country we separate out mental health and physical health because mental health is your brain. what’s more physical than your brain?



Rie Lopez, MPH A ‘Professional Patient’, Rie is a health educator, skilled public speaker and writer, and serves as a patient advocate for mental health, chronic pain conditions, and clinical trials.  Rie is also actively using her voice on social media

“ From a societal level trying to embrace that mental health is as important to our physical health. A lot of it comes down to making sure that people understand that they are as important”.  

Gabe and Rie are members of the Society for Participatory Medicine. Recorded at 2018 Connected Health Conference.

Provider Strategies on Community Partnerships and SDOH

The buzzword of social determinants has demonstrated a shift in health care toward a greater focus on the person outside the patient. Health and provider organizations have found that a persons zip code is as much an indicator of health as their genetic code and that social barriers must be addressed to obtain the best outcomes.

Here are some conversations captured at #CCTC on how providers are addressing SDOH and demonstrating measurable ROI through creating successful partnerships, utilizing actionable data, and implementing sustainable health initiatives. For more lineup of speakers visit World Congress website.

Brian Bragg
Vice President, Behavioral Health and Community Integration
Access Community Health Network

Brian is a member of the Access Community Health Network Medical Operations Leadership Team, shepherding a variety of programs focused on men's health, maternal and child health, behavioral health, and infectious disease. His portfolio now includes the development and implementation of initiatives to address the social determinants affecting the health of the patients served by the organization.


Debbie Welle-Powell
Chief Population Health Officer
Essentia Health

In this role, she is responsible for integrating our community health strategy with population health. She works with market leaders, payer partners and community stakeholders to develop community-based population health and risk sharing models that focus on wellness and disease prevention for better health outcomes - with focus given to social determinants and our most vulnerable and needy populations.


Julianna Sellett is the Vice President of Community Health Initiatives for the Carle Health System.

She has over 28 years of health care experience, with special interest in organizational strategy, systems management, performance improvement, population health, as well as cross-sector community integration. Her current work focuses on improving the health, educational achievement, and economic prosperity of disadvantaged populations, with special focus on early childhood development. She is a Registered Nurse (RN) with a Doctoral degree in Nursing Practice (DNP), Master’s degree in Nursing (MSN), and Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA). She is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) and is Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (CENP).