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Campaign Kick-Off featuring Mike Veny

Thank you for being part of this important community conversation on mental health!

We've read the headlines and heard the stories of the challenges we face in our community related to mental health. But did you know:

  • One in FIVE adults and children experiences mental illness in a given year
  • York County has some of the lowest patient to provider ratios for mental health professionals in the state of Pennsylvania, which can limit access to health services
  • Nonprofits are filling the gap to meet the need in our community, but challenges remain

We were thrilled to bring leading mental health speaker Mike Veny as the keynote speaker for our Campaign Kick-Off on August 30, along with a panel of local experts in mental health, to discuss needs and solutions for our community. Although this conversation was just the beginning, we look forward to working together with our Partner Agencies and community leadership to continue to discuss the challenges and opportunities we can tackle together.

CLICK HERE to view photos from the event!


Who is Mike Veny?

Mike Veny is one of America’s leading mental health speaker and a high-energy drum circle facilitator. He's the author of the book Transforming Stigma™: How to Become a Mental Wellness Superhero. He delivers educational, engaging, and entertaining presentations to meetings and conferences throughout the world.

As a 2017 PM360 ELITE Award Winner, Mike is recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the healthcare industry. He starred in several OC87 Recovery Diaries documentary films, two of which were featured at the 2017 Reel Minds Film series. Mike is fiercely committed to wellness, suicide prevention, and helping people work together more smoothly.

With 15 years of experience electrifying audiences, his mission is to empower people to connect authentically. Mike’s path to becoming a public speaker became evident at an early age. He convinced the staff at psychiatric hospitals to discharge him three times during his childhood. In addition to being hospitalized as a child, he was expelled from 3 schools, attempted suicide, and was medicated in efforts to reduce his emotional instability and behavioral outbursts. By the fifth grade, Mike was put in a special education class. He had no idea that drumming would become his career or his path to recovery.

What sets Mike apart from other speakers is his authenticity and his straightforward, easy-to-understand tools that audience members can apply immediately.



Thank you to our panel moderator, Bev Mackereth

Public service has been the hallmark of Bev Mackereth’s professional career. Both at the state level and in York County, Bev focused on working with our most vulnerable populations. Going from being a caseworker at York County Children and Youth while ultimately being appointed as the deputy secretary for the Office of Children Youth and Family as well as serving as Executive Director  of York County’s Human Services to becoming the Secretary of the state department of Human Services, Bev has worked hard to improve lives. 

Bev also served as an elected office beginning with Mayor of Spring Grove in 1996 until 2000, and serving on the Spring Grove Borough Council and Planning Commission. Mackereth was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2000 to serve the 196th Legislative District, and served four terms in office. Bev currently works for Governor Tom Ridge as a lobbyist and consultant at the Ridge Policy Group.

Thank you to our panelists

Melanie Baer, Pys.D., WellSpan Philhaven
Dr. Melanie Baer, a licensed psychologist, practices at WellSpan Philhaven, where she serves as Psychology Discipline Chief and Director of the WellSpan Philhaven Hospital Doctoral Psychology Internship Program. Dr. Baer received her master's degree (1984) and doctorate (1987) from Rosemead School of Psychology and has particular interest in trauma and loss, professional ethics and religious/spiritual issues.

Michelle Hovis, County of York
Michelle Hovis began her career in county government at the York/Adams Mental Health Program. With the roll out of  Pennsylvania’s HealthChoices program, she became the first  Director of the York/Adams HealthChoices Management Unit which oversees the behavioral health services for individuals covered by Medical Assistance. Her current role as the County’s Human Services Director allows her to work with all of the county human services departments on a more holistic approach to meeting the needs of some of our most needy citizens. 

Ben Johnson, DHSc, Pressley Ridge
Dr. Ben Johnson is the Director of Outpatient Mental Health Services at Pressley Ridge. He earned his Doctor of Health Science degree from Nova Southeastern University where specialized in healthcare administration and population health. Previously he graduated from the University of Louisiana at Monroe with a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family. In his role at Pressley Ridge, he leads a team of experienced and talented outpatient therapists throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Garrett Trout, TrueNorth Wellness Services
Garrett Trout is the Chief Executive Officer of TrueNorth Wellness Services, a provider of behavioral health and wellness services in South Central Pennsylvania. Trout has over 25 years of service to the behavioral health field. Prior to joining TrueNorth Wellness Service Trout spent time working at a Psychiatric Hospital and a Residential Treatment facility for children and adolescents.  Trout started his career with TrueNorth Wellness Services in 1995 as a Family Support Specialist and most recently served as Director of Children’s Services.

Mike Veny, leading mental health speaker
We're pleased to include our keynote speaker, Mike Veny, in our panel discussion to further share his insights and work to reduce the stigma around mental illness.


And of course, thank you to our generous sponsors!