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Women's Mental Health Conference at Yale Finalizes Main Sessions for 2021 Conference

March 18, 2021
by Jordan Sisson

The 2021 Women’s Mental Health Conference at Yale (WMHC) has finalized the main sessions for its upcoming conference.

The two-day conference, to be held virtually starting Friday, April 23, centers the issues of racial justice, healing, and the impacts of COVID-19 on women.

WMHC will host Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo Movement, for a keynote Q&A focused on Burke’s lived experience as a sexual assault survivor, what has helped her and other women heal from trauma, and what it takes to build a movement.

In addition, marquee panels are scheduled on the topics of Black women’s mental health, reproductive psychiatry, and women’s mental health tech. There will also be two fireside chats: the first, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women” with Sarah Deer, JD, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and a University Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas, and also a lunch with Michele Harper, an emergency room physician and author of “The Beauty in Breaking.”

WMHC planning committee member Mary Turfah read Harper’s memoir as the pandemic summer began in 2020.

“The memoir, like so much of Dr. Harper's work, is a testament to the power of living with openness and honesty—first with ourselves and then with the communities we serve, an approach that is desperately needed in our world,” Turfah said.

The Black Women’s Mental Health panel will include Jessica Isom, MD, MPH, Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine; Nicole Christian-Brathwaite, MD, a nationally recognized Board-Certified Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and the CEO and Founder of Well Minds Psychiatry and Consulting Company, PLLC; Zahara Green, the Founder and Executive Director of TRANScending Barriers, a trans-led group whose mission is to empower the transgender and gender non-conforming community in Georgia; and Nala Simone, founder of Reuniting of African Descendants (ROAD), a trans-led grassroots initiative invested in equity, collective growth, and healing for LGBTQ people of African Descent.

“The Black Women’s Mental Health panel is made up of a group of inspirational women working in different areas of mental health, community activism, education and on-the-ground social change,” said Jane E.M. Carter, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate in Clinical Psychology at Yale, WMHC planning committee member, and moderator of the Black women’s mental health panel. “We chose our panelists based on their areas of expertise, as well as their experiences in communities of color, LGBTQ spaces, and doing activism work across the country. As moderator of this panel, I am excited to be a part of practical discussions that are designed to bring about healing, growth and change in our community.”

Several high-profile reproductive psychiatrists will sit on the Reproductive Psychiatry panel: Nita Landry, a board-certified Ob/Gyn and co-host of the Emmy award-winning talk show, The Doctors; Sayida Peprah, a licensed clinical psychologist and birth doula with specialty in multicultural psychology, trauma, suicide prevention and maternal mental health; Carly Snyder, MD, a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist; and Alexandra Sacks, MD, a reproductive psychiatrist and host of the podcast, “The Motherhood Sessions.

Jasmine Saadatmand, MD, MPH, WMHC planning committee member and moderator of the reproductive psychiatry panel, said she envisioned an interdisciplinary panel for the conference focusing on approaches to women’s mental health and reproductive psychiatry across disciplines, with emphasis on how things have evolved during the pandemic.

“As the field changes along with the world in which we practice, a broad expertise and engagement with other providers becomes essential,” Saadatmand said. “These panelists have been inspirational in their respective fields. The opportunity to hear them on a panel together will undoubtedly reflect the issues of the moment as well as future directions in the field.”

The Women’s Mental Health Tech panel will feature Maria Velissaris, Founding Partner of SteelSky Ventures; Kristina Saffran, founder of Equip Health, an eating disorders startup; Sofia Noori, MD, MPH, Chief Resident of Digital Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine; and Ariel Richer, founder of ShockTalk, an indigenous mental health app.

WMHC is the first academic and trainee-led women’s mental health conference. It was founded by Noori and co-resident Stefanie Gillson, MD, and is organized by a team with specialties across medicine, psychiatry, public health, business and law.

The conference is dedicated toward improving the wellbeing of women through better training of future health care professionals. It seeks to center issues of women’s wellbeing in the male-dominated health care professions.

The conference is open to all regardless of Yale affiliation and is free to attend, but donations are encouraged. To learn more about the Women’s Mental Health Conference, visit

Submitted by Jordan Sisson on March 17, 2021