Swope Health

Swope Health presents at Mental Health KC Conference

In support of Mental Health Awareness Month, Swope Health will deliver a presentation at the Mental Health KC Conference on May 11 and 12. The conference’s theme is “Improving Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace.”


Swope Health’s Terri Cooley-Bennett, Intake Clinician, and Grace Okonta, Community Support Supervisor, will speak on the intersection of behavioral health and tobacco addiction, including treatment services.


This workshop will examine the importance of providing access to tobacco treatment services for individuals with mental health disorders.  Research shows that people with a diagnosed mental illness smoke at higher rates and studies show that completing suicide is correlated with daily smoking.


Terri and Grace will review best practices, ethical considerations, and treatments when when integrating tobacco treatment services into behavioral healthcare.  They will discuss the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Medication-Assisted Treatment, along with behavioral healthcare like individual counseling and groups that address mental illness and tobacco use.


Coordinated by the Metropolitan Council of Community Mental Health Centers, this annual event features dozens of speakers on multiple topics related to behavioral health including anxiety, resiliency, substance use, DEI, trauma, suicide, recovery and more. It is developed by a local team for the metro area, and is geared toward an audience of local school districts, persons with mental illness and their family members, or anyone wanting additional resources.

Grace has been a member of the Metro Council’s Conference Committee for many years and has supported the conference planning in years past. Terri has presented at the conference in past years and has been a member of the committee for planning for about a year. In addition to her role with Swope Health, Terri is a Doctoral Candidate with the Tulane University School of Social Work.


The purpose of the event is to offer community education and to create awareness about mental health in our community – with a special focus on meeting the need for education in wellness, mental health in the workplace and suicide awareness and prevention. The annual conference is timed to align with mental health awareness month.


This conference is designed for anyone concerned about mental health and its impact on our community, such as community health leaders, practitioners, social workers, corporate employers and employees, non-profit organizations, chief executives, human resources professionals, benefits managers, workplace occupational health, safety, and wellness, industry leaders, benefits consultants, wellness specialists and health and social services providers.


Terri and Grace draw upon their extensive experience in delivering the presentation:

Terri is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker, a Co-occurring Disorders Professional-Diplomate, and a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.  She is experienced with the Kansas City unhoused/homeless population and has more than20 years of experience as a presenter, workshop leader, and educator; speaking for groups such as the Missouri Coalition for Behavioral Healthcare, the Missouri National Association of Social Workers, the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare Continuing Education Program, and others. She taught as an Adjunct Professor for the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare and provides field instruction for social work students.


Grace has more than 15 years’ experience in working with diverse populations coping with mental health. She has worked with clients with tobacco use since 2017 with emphasis on harm reduction toward abstinence, a spectrum of strategies that includes managed use as a first step toward abstaining from use. Grace is a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Certified Reciprocal Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor, and holds a national certificate as a Tobacco Treatment Specialist.


See the presentation by Terri and Grace at 12:45 pm Thursday, May 11, 2023, at the Cerner Innovation Campus, 8779 Hillcrest Road, Kansas City MO 64138. The topic is: Tobacco Treatment Services, Ethics, and Behavioral Health.






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