In recognition of May as Mental Health Month, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine will focus its spring Mini Medical School on mental health issues.

“Dispelling Myths, Moving Forward: Science and Mental Health” will explore the history of mental illness, debunk myths, examine community issues regarding mental health, and take a look into the future. Health care and other professionals, along with policymakers, will take participants on a journey from the “olden” days, when mental illness was commonly referred to as “madness,” to today's cutting-edge treatments and innovations.

“As a geriatric psychologist, I know well the amazing advances that the field of mental health has made in the last 20 years,” said Dave Trinkle, a medical doctor and associate dean for community and culture at the school. “I know equally well the lack of advances in certain types of diagnoses and treatments, as well as the frustrations many families have getting access to treatment for their loved ones.”

Trinkle said the series will enable an open discussion about the history and future of mental health treatment and what the community can do to improve care.

The series will include three sessions that meet from 6 to 8 p.m. May 12, 19, and 26.

The May 12 session will take participants on a quest for a cure, looking at the history of mental health care, as well as modern-day treatment approaches that center around the neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin and what lies ahead. Psychiatric artifacts will be on display. Speakers will include James Reinhard, M.D., of Virginia Tech's Cook Counseling Center at Virginia Tech, and Michael Greenage, D.O., and Thomas Milam, M.D., MDiv, psychiatrists with Carilion Clinic.

The May 19 session will take a scientific look at mental health care today and in the future, including a discussion on the evolution of psychiatric diagnoses and explore cognitive disorders, the aging brain, what the future holds for slowing the aging process in the brain.  Speakers include William Rea, M.D. and Azziza Bankole, M.D., psychiatrists with Carilion Clinic.

The May 26 session will feature Jeff Leonard, certified peer recovery specialist for On Our Own of Roanoke Valley, who will discuss his own experience with mental illness and subsequent treatment and recovery, along with a panel discussion that will include Jacqueline F. Ward Talevi, chief judge of the Roanoke County General District Court; Anders Sylvester-Johnson, chief operating officer of the Roanoke Rescue Mission; and Capt. Rick Morrison of the Roanoke City Police Department.

Ample time will be given for audience questions each night.

The series will be at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke. Doors open at 5:30 each evening, and there is plenty of free parking available.

The cost for all three nights is $20, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Mental Health America of Roanoke Valley. Scholarships are available.

Registration is required at

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