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33rd annual GMHCN conference

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Please email for details.

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In 1972 Marlo Thomas released a project titled "Free to Be... You and Me" that explored the concept of identity, and the importance of each of us being able to live as our authentic selves. Thirty years later we will revisit and expand upon the concepts explored in this landmark work, and extend our gratitude to Ms. Thomas, Ms. magazine, and the countless performers, artists, craftspeople, and others who labored to make "Free to Be" everything that it was, and continues to be.


Please join the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network for our 33rd annual conference, to be held online Friday October 27, 2023 9:30am-4pm. We will be celebrating the freedom those of us in mental health and substance use recovery experience, and discussing the freedoms that we have lost or have yet to gain.


Peers and everyone in the mental health recovery community are being invited to submit creative works centered around the theme of Freedom. Works must be submitted electronically through an online form that will open September 1 and close October 1, and which may take the form of essays, poetry, paintings, photographs, digital art, music, dance, etc. Prizes will be awarded in categories that include Best Peer Entry, Best Ally Entry, and Best CPS Entry. Guidelines for participation will be announced September 1.


Registration opens September 1. Anyone requesting any part of the six continuing education credit hours available at the conference will be required to register individually and attend the webinar (on Zoom) signed in under their own names for the length of time they wish to receive credit.

CLICK HERE to register now
Friday October 27, 2023
9:30am-4:00pm Online
The agenda for the day will be posted soon.


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Creative & Artistic Expressions of Freedom: A Call For Entries


The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network wants to see and hear how our peers and allies across the state artistically and creatively demonstrate your understanding of Freedom.

We are accepting entries of all creative and artistic disciplines and mediums! Poetry, Drawing, Prose, Dance, Spoken Word, Sculpture, Singing, Songwriting, Essays, Multi-Media, Digital, Painting, Macaroni & Glitter, Pastels, Cooking & Baking, Musical Instruments, Rap, Textile & String Art! And on! And on! All art and creative expressions meeting the minimal criteria below will be accepted and considered in one of three categories: Peer, Certified Peer Specialist, & Ally. Each will win our "Best Creative Expression of Freedom" Award.

Entry Criteria for Peers: You must be a Georgia resident 18+ and a peer, meaning you self-identify with having mental health challenges or dual challenges (mental health & substance misuse challenges). You also must reside in state of Georgia.

Entry Criteria for CPSs: You must be a Georgia resident 18 years of age or older and received certification as a CPS Mental Health, Addictive Disease, Parent, and/or Youth in the State of Georgia.

Entry Criteria for Allies: You must self-identify as an ally of the mental health recovery community and be a Georgia resident 18 years of age or older.

Overall criteria: The winner in each category will be the one determined by the panel of judges to best illustrate/demonstrate the concept of freedom. In order to win in any category, the person submitting the entry must register for the conference using their own name and email, register for the competition using the same name and email, and sign into the conference webinar using that same name and email (there is no minimum length of time attendance at the conference, simply presence at some point during the day).

Only one entry per person is allowed, and it will be the first entry received (in the case of multiple entries). Please refrain from showing any part of anyone’s body that might not be legally exposed at a public park in Georgia (the intent is to keep everyone comfortable, not to limit self-expression). Any video (dance/music/etc) longer than six minutes will be trimmed at the end to six minutes by the exhibit coordinators before being presented to the judges, Any entry may have been entered into and/or won in other competitions, as long as it is original work created by the person submitting it. All artwork must be submitted by 11:59pm Monday, October 16, 2023.


Entry Technical Guidelines
Only digital images of work will be accepted, and must be uploaded to the “Free2Be Creative in 2023” Jotform. The link can be found at The maximum individual file size allowed in Jotform is 1GB. Multiple images of the same object (drawing, sculpture, etc) are permitted. Any Jotform entry containing images of more than one creative work will be disqualified from winning in competition, but may still have their work posted to the GMHCN website and/or shown as part of the program on Conference day.

If you require technical assistance photographing or submitting your work, you may visit one of our five Peer Support & Respite Centers for assistance during normal Center hours (typically 10am-6pm, but please call ahead to ensure staff will be available to assist you when you arrive). A CPS at a PSRC can support you with photographing and/or uploading the digital images to Jotform.

Thank You for sharing your talents with us. We are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to view, ponder, listen to, watch, and be inspired by the creative folks we know, and hopefully to meet a few more.

Winners will be announced at the Conference on October 27, 2023. We look forward to getting your entry!


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About Keris Jän Myrick 

Keris Jän Myrick is a leading mental health advocate and executive, known for her innovative and inclusive approach to mental health reform and the public disclosure of her personal story (as featured in the New York Times series: Lives Restored). Ms. Myrick has over 15 years of experience in mental health services innovations, transformation, and peer workforce development. She is known for her collaborative style and innovative “whole person” approach to mental health.  Ms. Myrick is the Vice President of Partnerships at Inseparable, the policy liaison for The National Association of Peer Supporters (N.A.P.S.) on the Mental Health of America board of directors.  She is the developer and host of the podcast “Unapologetically Black Unicorns” focusing on mental health, race equity and lived experience. Ms. Myrick was formerly the Chief of Peer and Allied Health Professions for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, and has served as the Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs for the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) of the United States Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and was the Board President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Myrick is a Co-Editor of the Journal of Psychiatric Services “Lived Experience and Leadership” column and has authored numerous peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Ms. Myrick has a MS in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology of Alliant International University and an MBA from Case Western University’s Weatherhead School of Management.

Podcast Host - Unapologetically Black Unicorns


This year has been a little different, and so will this year's conference. We will celebrate, and possibly mourn (a little), but we hope to spend most of the day considering: Who are we at GMHCN--staff, members, peers--and who do we want to be? What do we want from GMHCN, and what are we willing to give back? We will also be considering peer support itself--what is it, what was it meant to, what can it be, what should it be, and how do we get there?


In short, we plan to pause, and reflect on who we are, and who we want to be. A slate of presenters to inform and guide our community discussion is being assembled and will be released soon.  


We hope you will plan to join us. 

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