National Dialogues on Behavioral Health

The National Dialogues on Behavioral Health is the oldest ongoing annual conference on mental health and substance use in the United States. Formerly known as the Southern Conference on Mental Health, the first conference was held in 1959. This year the conference is 63 years old.

The conference has been described as “a gem in the behavioral health field.” The purpose of the conference is to bring experts, administrators, providers, consumers, family members and advocates together to discuss the cutting edge in the topic of interest with a focus on implementation and “how to do it.” A distinctive feature is the opportunity for extended dialogue and interaction among the participants.

Updates: The 2022 NDBH In-Person Conference Topic will focus on Behavioral Health Workforce: Future Directions and Initiatives.


The NASW-LA has approved 17 hours of Continuing Education. 

To attend the NDBH Conference, all registrants must agree to abide by state, local and hotel policies related to COVID-19. Additionally, all registrants must receive COVID-19 vaccination verification during the registration process, which can be accessed by a link to Health Check, powered by Proof of this verification is required for conference check-in and attendance. Cancelations due to the inability to verify vaccination status may be refunded, if requested by November 1, 2022, sans a $25 processing fee.


National Dialogues on Behavioral Health Conference 2022

Behavioral Health Workforce: Future Directions and Initiatives

The 63rd Annual Conference

This program has been applied for and is pending General continuing education contact hours by the National Association of Social Workers, Louisiana Chapter as authorized by the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners, and may be applied toward the continuing education requirements for licensure renewal.

Conference Venue

Renaissance Arts Hotel

700 Tchoupitoulas Street New Orleans, LA

Single/Double Rooms: $136 per night, exclusive of taxes and fees (Deadline for this rate: 10/21/22)

To reserve hotel room(s), go to:  or Call 1-877-622-3056 Daily Parking Available: 0 – 8 hrs.: $15/8+ hours: $3

Register Now



November 13-16, 2022, New Orleans


Prompted by the Biden-Harris strategy to address the national mental health crisis, there is a renewed sense of urgency related to behavioral health workforce shortages. While there are models and national plans that have been proposed over the last decade, and while there are local and regional success stories, there is currently no comprehensive long-term national behavioral health workforce plan or strategy. New resources exist to address behavioral health workforce shortages, but it is not clear how these should be optimally deployed or disbursed. As a result, the National Dialogues on Behavioral Health (NDBH) has decided to focus on addressing this gap at its next annual conference in New Orleans, November 13-16, 2022.

To help develop the agenda for the conference, NDBH convened two focus groups with several national, state, local and professional behavioral health organizations to have a dialogue on the critical issues related to the behavioral health workforce. The organizations represented in the dialogues included:

  • American Mental Health Counselors Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • Annapolis Coalition
  • Association of Behavioral Health and Wellness
  • National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
  • National Association of Social Work
  • National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
  • National Council for Mental Wellbeing
  • National Empowerment Center
  • National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute
  • Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

There were also experts representing psychiatry and higher education that were not formally representing any organizations.

The agenda topics are based on the key findings identified by these focus groups that corroborated and elaborated discussions of the NDBH Board. Originally, NDBH had planned to have a virtual conference. But, based on the input of focus group participants who expressed a strong desire to have face-to-face dialogue on the topic, NDBH revised the plan and is now convening an in-person conference in New Orleans, November 13-16, 2022.

Key areas that will be addressed in the different sessions of the conference are:

  1. Building a national framework. Options for developing collaborative approaches to build a national framework that addresses identified needs and provides resources to inform state, regional and local behavioral health workforce initiatives. This includes providing input for the optimal use of the $750 million dollars that has been identified for behavioral health workforce training in the federal budget for next year.
  2. Expanding the current workforce by role extension and use of peers and family members. This includes: defining and supporting the roles of peers, potential new roles for nurses, prescribing privileges for psychologists, use of primary health workers etc.
  3. Identifying successful recruitment and retention strategies. This includes: increasing the numbers in the pipeline for the behavioral health professions (psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, peers, etc.); mechanisms for provider organizations to make the behavioral health positions in their organizations more attractive and competitive; and how to retain qualified staff experiencing job stress and fatigue that results in job disengagement.
  4. Using technology and artificial intelligence to augment the behavioral health workforce. This includes: how technology like telehealth and digital health are being integrated to address workforce shortages and to augment treatment and support; the use of technologies to empower consumers and family members in joint decision-making and to enhance consumer engagement; and the use of predictive analytics for care and crisis response coordination
  5. Funding, sustainability, and advocacy for behavioral health workforce initiatives. Even though new resources are currently available, the challenge is to maintain these funding streams over the long haul in a consistent, comprehensive way. Approaches for doing so will be identified.

A major thrust of the conference is to provide a venue for dialogue and discussion on options and strategies that might be available to move forward on these different fronts. Leadership of federal agencies and representatives of the various organizations that have participated in the focus groups will be invited as speakers and conference participants.

NDBH recognizes that this conference is a first step rather than the solution to the behavioral health workforce crisis. The objective is for this conference to be a catalyst for a much needed impetus and direction for appropriate organizations to move forward in a consensual frame to building the behavioral health workforce of the future.

Suggested Audience

Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Nurses, Psychologists, Counselors, Addiction Counselors, Case Managers, Administrators, Health Policy Makers, Behavioral Healthcare Providers, State/County Behavioral Healthcare Administrators, Peer Recovery Workforce, Judiciary Justice System Administrators, Law Enforcement/Justice System Stakeholders, Emergency/Disaster Response Professionals, Educators and School Based Counselors, Human Services and Child Welfare Administrators and Providers, and Academicians.