MHF hosts free Viewing of Boston Trauma Conference

Emmalexis Velasquez (Psychologist/info & prevention officer) and Sandro Garcia (Financial and operational director) from MHF. Picture taken during the closing of the Boston Conference at the mixer and reveal of the 2023/2024 Mental Health Theme ceremony.


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA) recently hosted a free viewing of the 34th Annual International Boston Trauma Conference at the Government Administration Building daily from May 17th through 20th, 2023. 

MHF purchased virtual access to the 4-day conference and worked along VSA to secure a viewing space. Based on this collaboration, MHF was able to invite all mental health care workers, allied professionals and mental health enthusiast (students) to participate in the 4-day conference free of charge. 

Professionals from approximately 15 organizations who render some sort of mental health within their organizational capacity were present over the course of 4 days, including educational, insurance, addiction, occupational therapy, youth care and rehabilitation organizations, as well as private psychology practices and government care-departments. 

Participants were able to gain deeper understanding of how trauma impacts the connection between mind, brain, body and social organizations and the optimal clinical interventions to facilitate restoration of safety and regulation, as well as the societal factors underscoring traumatic experiences. Participants were privy to new research, interventions and outcomes via the varied featured presentations including, Building Resilience in the Face of Trauma, Healing Attachments Wounds and Trauma Using Pesso Boyden Systems Psychomotor Therapy (PBSP), Psychedelic Assisted Therapies, Internal Family Systems Therapy in Addiction, Basic Clinical Science, and Innovative Treatments. Participants also viewed key note presentations by key leaders in the field of trauma including Gabor Mate, Richard Schwartz and Bessel van der Kolk. 

The conference is hosted each year by Bessel van der Kolk, MD, who is a notable psychiatrist, researcher, best-selling author and educator of Dutch origins based in Boston. He is most famed for his contributions in post-traumatic stress, which was the basis of the conference. 

MHF’s motivation for the conference was to facilitate a space for collective learning and skills building for their staff and peers in the mental health field in a shared space. The initiative, which was the first of its kind, also encouraged networking and rapport building among the mental health professionals from all the areas that make the mental health field. Participation commenced with a promising start, though it gently dwindled towards the end with the holiday and weekend included. As such, MHF acknowledged and gifted 3 participants who demonstrated outstanding attendance with van der Kolk’s best-selling book, “the body keeps the score” and other personalized MHF trinkets. 

The virtual viewing of the conference closed with a mental health care provider’s mixer, during which MHF revealed its 2023 mental health theme, “Policies for a Mentally-Fit Community.” The new theme will replace the previous, “Prioritize your Mind,” and future prevention and information efforts will reflect the message of the new theme in accordance with MHF’s awareness calendar. 

MHF is motivated to host future similar events and will incorporate initiatives geared towards the general public, in efforts of raising awareness for mental health. The organization welcomes collaboration among stakeholders in the field and other support networks to expand potential impact and reach. 

MHF would like to thank the Ministry of VSA for their support and congratulates all participants for maximizing on this opportunity.