Mental Health Fair

Mental Health Fair

Hope and Health for Mental Health Conditions

During a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) survey taken in June of 2020, 40.9% of respondents reported adverse mental or behavioral health conditions. This study revealed a major spike in mental health conditions since the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, including increased anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation, among both youth and adults. When this COVID related increase in mental health conditions is added to the reality (according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness) 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness each year, there is obvious reason for alarm.

       Because of the social stigma associated with mental health conditions, many churches are hesitant to engage in mental health ministry.  But Suntree United Methodist Church, located at 7400 North Wickham Rd in Melbourne, has emerged in recent years as a leader in Mental Health awareness and advocacy. Each Fall, Suntree UMC holds a mental health event designed to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and offer hope and help for persons with mental health conditions.  Due to Covid 19, this year’s event will be conducted virtually using Zoom technology. It will be held on Sunday Afternoon, November 15, 2020, from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm. The public is invited to register and participate in this event. Participation in the SUMC 2020 Mental Health Fair is free. To register use the link below:

Click here to sign up

      According to Rev. Dr. John Baggett, a retired pastor and former State Director of Mental Health in North Carolina, current chair of the Suntree UMC Mental Health Task Force, “The past few months have been difficult times for all of us, especially for those who have prior mental health conditions,  and also for those who provide care for persons who are mentally and emotionally challenged.  In response to these difficult times, the 2020 Virtual Mental Health Fair will address a wide range of mental health problems, provide useful information for those who need help, share awareness of resources, identify service gaps, and underscore the need for improved services for persons with mental health conditions in Brevard County.”


1:00 pm -2:00 pm

  1. Mental Health Wellness 101: An introduction to understanding the mental health challenges we all face - (such as loneliness, worry, disappointment, sadness, emptiness, resentments, compulsions, desperation, fearfulness, shame, etc.), and strategies for increasing and maintaining mental health wellness, especially during stressful times.


Stephanie Byrd is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in the State of Florida with over 20 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families. She is an advanced trained practitioner in Clinical Hypnosis with Rapid Trauma Resolution, an EMDR trained therapist, a Prepare/Enrich Certified Couples Counselor, a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and Parent Coordinator, and a Qualified Supervisor for registered Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy Interns. She is the founder of Ascend Counseling and Wellness, LLC a private practice in Melbourne, Florida, as well as Counselors for Change, a nonprofit organization created to increase mental health awareness, education, outreach and advocacy. Additionally, she serves on Space Coast Mental Health Counselors Association’s Board of Directors.

Rayna Houvouras is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida with over 20 years of clinical experience across a variety of settings including counseling, crisis intervention; trauma focused therapy, substance abuse, forensic mental health evaluation and applied behavior analysis. She is the founder of Foundations Counseling, LLC a private practice serving individuals and families in Melbourne, Florida and serves on Space Coast Mental Health Counselors Association’s Board of Directors. She received her Certified Addictions Professional Certification in 2015 and has been a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst since 2001. She is also a trainer for Adoption Competency in the State of Florida and is a qualified supervisor in the State of Florida for Mental Health Interns.

2:00pm -3:00 pm

  1. Managing Stress vs. Mental Disorders: Distinguishing between stress related mental health problems and mental illness. What is stress? What is the relationship of stress to anxiety?  How do otherwise healthy people manage high levels of anxiety during stressful times?  What are Some Myths and False Beliefs about mental disorders?  Understanding the major diagnoses and their symptoms, and their effective treatments, medications, and available services.


Speaker: Tonya Dix

Tonya Dix is Vice President Clinical/Quality Care, Circles of Care, an agency that  provides comprehensive mental health care to the citizens of Brevard County.  Ms. Dix is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelors and a Masters degree from Western Governors University. At Circles of Care, she is responsible for safe, patient centered, quality care, and performance improvement through the effective use of quality outcomes data, risk mitigation and elimination, and a multidisciplinary approach to performance improvement.

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

  1. Understanding Addiction: What is addiction? Understanding the disease model vs. the moral model of addiction. The Opioid Epidemic. What is recovery? What makes recovery possible? What resources are available to help with recovery?


Speaker: Rick Burklew M.A., M.Div.

Rick Burklew has a Masters of Divinity and holds a Masters of Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. He specializes in trauma-sensitive assessment and is trained in de-escalation. Rick is currently a therapist and program director with Peace Club, an addiction treatment program in Cocoa Beach Fl. He found his passion for serving those suffering from addiction after burying too many of his fostered sons during the opioid epidemic. Over the last ten years he has had the opportunity to serve those in recovery in South Florida, establish a seminary in Malawi, and assist in rescuing and rehabilitating those rescued from human trafficking. Rick grew up in Brevard County and interned with Brevard County Fire Rescue. He is recently returned to the area and is thrilled to reconnect with his roots while offering healing to those who need it most. 

            Speaker: Laura McCarthy

Laura McCarthy, MA, LMHC, MCAP is a Clinical Mental Health and Addictions Professional, an EMDR Trained Trauma Specialist, and a Certified Biblical Counselor. She is the author of  Mess to Majestic, a True Story of Recovery and Healing from Trauma, Shame, and Addictions with Biblical & Clinical Insights, and founder of Brevard Opioid and Addictions Conference.  Laaura is Co-Chair of the Treatment & Recovery Sub-Committee of the Brevard Opioid Misuse Task Force, Prevention Coalition and has 35 years of personal recovery from SUD, trauma and shame

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

  1. Mental Illness and Criminal Justice: The current criminalization of mental and addictive disorders (mentally ill patients and addicted persons in jails and prisons). Treating trauma rooted disorders vs. criminalization. Strategies to decriminalize mental illness- including improved understanding of mental disorders, community based services, increased psychiatric bed availability, Crisis Intervention Training for law enforcement, Mental Health Courts, and the Miami-Dade Mental Health Model for addressing the current mental health crisis in America.

            Speaker: Judge Steven Leifman

            Judge Steven Leifman is the Associate Administrative Judge of the Miami-Dade County Court-Criminal Division.  He serves as a Special Advisor on Criminal Justice and Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida, and chairs the Steering Committee on Problem Solving Courts for the Supreme Court of Florida, and the Mental Health Committee for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida.  Judge Leifman is the founder of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, which has, over the past decade, facilitated about 4,000 diversions of defendants with mental illness from the county jail into community based treatment and support services. Among many awards recognizing his excellent public service, Judge Leifman was the recipient, in 2015, of the prestigious William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, presented to him by Chief Justice John G. Roberts.  The Rehnquist Award is given annually to a state court judge who exemplifies judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. Judge Leifman was the subject of the PBS documentary, The Definition of Insanity, which aired nationally on PBS on April 14 of 2020 highlighting the Miami-Dade Mental Health Program model for addressing the current mental health crisis in America.