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Mental Health, Alcohol, and Drugs: How Do They Connect?

March 10, 2022

This semester UNC-Chapel Hill is offering monthly virtual mental health seminars addressing the intersection of mental health with related topics such as faith, addition/substance use, intimate partner violence, and vulnerable populations.  

The second seminar, Mental Health, Alcohol, and Drugs: How Do They Connect?, was offered on Monday, March 28, from 3:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.  

The conversation was facilitated by Dr. Charla Blumell, Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Prevention with Student Wellness, and framed by a panel of experts discussing the role that alcohol and drugs play in mental health.

Faculty Presenter: Dr. Stacey Daughters

Stacey B. Daughters, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of North Carolina. Dr. Daughters expertise is in the identification of neurobiological and behavioral determinants of substance use treatment response, with a focus on reward sensitivity and distress tolerance, as well as the translation of experimental findings into targeted and effective interventions, most notably behavioral activation and transcranial alternating current stimulation. 

Panelist Wendy Kadens, MBA, MSW

Wendy Kadens is a clinical social worker at CAPS, Originally from New York City, she received her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) from Vassar College, her Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.) from Columbia University, and her Master's of Social Work (M.S.W.) from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Wendy's professional interests include adjustment and resilience, grief and loss, and chronic illness. According to Wendy, her approach adjusts to meet the needs and perspectives of the student that she works with. She combines aspects of mindfulness, acceptance, and exploration of how we come to be who we are. Outside CAPS, she enjoys cooking and eating, time with her family, and being a professional homebody/staycationer.

Panelist Dean Blackburn

Dean Blackburn is the Director of Student Wellness and an Associate Dean of Students.

Dean has worked in Student Affairs at Carolina for over 20 years, and has worked in the field of health education/health promotion and primary prevention work for almost 30 years.  He enjoys working with students, staff, faculty, alum, parents, and community partners to create an atmosphere that promotes students' healthy decision making regarding their health and safety.  Dean is interested in the intersections of identity, culture, education, politics, and economics as they impact the health outcomes, disparities, and access to wellness for all students.  He believes that breaking down barriers, developing coalitions, and advocating for equitable access is primary to ensuring every student has the necessary resources to be both healthy and whole, as well as personally and academically successful at Carolina and beyond.  He enjoys doing this work through individual conversations with students; teaching; outreach to larger groups; collaborating with colleagues across campus and the community; broad based committee involvement; research/policy development; and state and national involvement and leadership in the field.

Dean received his formal education in social work and psychology through an undergraduate degree from Elon University and later a graduate degree from Duke University, but considers himself a student of life, and enjoys reading on public health, wellbeing, justice, queer theory and just about every other topic.   When not having a great time with his Wellness colleagues and students on campus, he enjoys outdoor activities, public service, traveling to new places, time with family and friends, and hanging out with his two amazing Labrador mix rescues, Sampson and Sebastian. 

Panelist Heather Gallagher, LCMHC, LCAS

Heather is a clinical addictions specialist at UNC's Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program (ASAP). She began her professional career in the field of mental health before transitioning into the field of substance abuse counseling. Heather graduated with a degree in substance abuse and clinical counseling and has now been working as a professional counselor since 2014. She utilizes a number of modalities while working with others, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), and Seeking Safety.

Heather enjoys working from a holistic model, viewing the mind-body connection, while working towards recovery. In addition to working with issues of addiction, she has a special interest in helping patients work through depression, anxiety, behavioral addictions, and trauma. As a therapist, Heather views her role as supportive and collaborative. She hopes to join alongside patients to navigate recovery, meet their own unique needs, and build a life worth living. Lastly, Heather also performs substance abuse assessments for those who have received a DWI.

Attendees had the opportunity to listen, learn, and contribute thoughts and questions during the event. The seminar was recorded for viewing by those who could not attend.

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