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Reducing the Stigma: Harnessing Innovation to Address Mental Health Needs

September 26 @ 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm PDT

Join MATTER and WBC for a discussion on addressing and reducing the mental health stigma in healthcare.

In honor of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, MATTER and World Business Chicago are hosting an in-person event highlighting the innovative solutions coming out of Chicago’s healthcare ecosystem that address growing mental healthcare needs. You’ll learn how their innovations are applied across the healthcare ecosystem to better understand mental health as a whole and to support individuals who live with mental health conditions.

There are an average of 123 suicides each day in the U.S. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America, according to the National Today’s National Suicide Prevention Month report. There are a growing number of digital health solutions on the market to tackle this growing crisis, and it’s important to ensure people are aware of how innovations are changing the landscape for and access to mental healthcare in Chicago. Please join us!


2:30pm CT | Doors open

3:00pm CT | Welcome remarks from MATTER and WBC

3:05pm CT | Overview from Matt Richards, Deputy Commissioner of Behavioral Health

3:15pm CT | Panel discussion

4:05pm CT | Closing keynote

4:15pm CT | Networking & reception

5:00pm CT | Event concludes

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is living with thoughts of suicide, help is available. Call 988: The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.


Olyvia Phillips

Manager of Equity Initiatives at MATTER

As the manager of equity initiatives, Olyvia supports MATTER’s efforts to advance health equity within the startup and health innovation space. Prior to joining MATTER, Olyvia was the manager of public health activities at the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, where she developed and implemented state-l and local-level initiatives to improve the health and lives of children and families in Illinois. In addition to a public health background, Olyvia also has extensive experience in the community and social justice field and was a past Albert Schweitzer Fellowship recipient. She remains active in and outside of work, being heavily involved in community-centered programming to increase health equity and equality.


Ariana Vargas

Founder & CEO at STIGMA

Ariana is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and the founder and CEO of STIGMA, an app Google named 2022’s “Best App for Good.” She is one of the 46percent of Americans living with mental illness and speaks on television, radio and conference stages about stigma, mental health and social impact as part of her work to normalize conversations about mental health. She and her team are actively building the world’s first AI-powered app feature that helps people reframe the negative stories they tell themselves into more hopeful ones.

Danny Freed

Founder & CEO at Blueprint

Danny Freed is the founder and CEO at Blueprint, a SaaS platform for behavioral health organizations to easily measure, demonstrate and improve quality of care at scale. Prior to Blueprint, Danny helped lead product and design at Trunk Club (acquired by Nordstrom) and co-founded Companion, an award-winning personal safety and security app used by millions of people worldwide, featured on CNN, The Today Show, Business Insider and more.

Matthew Richards, LCSW, MDiv

Deputy Commissioner of Behavioral Health at the Chicago Department of Public Health

Matt Richards, LCSW, MDiv, is deputy commissioner of behavioral health at the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) where he is the City of Chicago’s lead subject matter expert on behavioral health. Matt is responsible for the City’s five mental health centers, 911 mental health and substance use response teams, behavioral health diversion programs and all CDPH programs in mental health, substance use, violence prevention and healthcare for unsheltered persons.

Under Matt’s leadership, the City has increased its mental health budget seven-fold since 2019, increased patients served from 3,500 in 2019 to almost 75,000 in 2022 and led to the integration of mental health professionals into the 911 response system for the first time in city history through the Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement program. Matt and the CDPH behavioral health team received the 2023 Mayor’s Medal of Honor in recognition of their significant contributions serving Chicago residents.

Dr. Paviella Foster

Vice President of Programs at NAMI Chicago

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Dr. Foster began her post-secondary matriculation at Western Illinois University earning a bachelor’s in law enforcement and justice administration. She continued her educational pursuit by earning a master of arts in mental health counseling from Argosy University and recently earned a doctor of education in organizational leadership from National Louis University.

Dr. Foster’s work experience directly parallels to her dissertation title, “An Examination of Community Members’ Reactions to Violent Viral Media and their Perceptions of its Impact on Black Communities.” She has dedicated 11 years to diligently working in the social justice and youth mental health field. Her most recent efforts have been to rebuild and advocate for marginalized communities, transform teams, re-evaluate communal structure and restore programs on the South and North Sides of Chicago. For the last two years she has served as the chief program officer at Howard Brown Health. Her service has supported more than 20 programs eliminating barriers to healthcare by helping patients engage, re-engage and maintain access to care.

Passionate about working with young people and helping them transition from trauma to triumph, she currently sits on the board of directors for One Roof Chicago — a new and innovative program incorporating intergenerational supportive housing that focuses on affirming housing, meaningful connections and career development for youth ages 18 and older and older adults identifying as LGBTQ+. In addition, Dr. Foster sits on the Center for Health and Housing board of directors advocating for every person to have a place they can call home.

Royce Lee, MD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at UChicago

Dr. Royce Lee’s research has focused on how our brains and minds adapt to stress and why knowing this is helpful in stress recovery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he directed the Disaster Recovery Program, a philanthropy-funded program to measure and address burnout and secondary traumatic stress in the 8,000+ healthcare workers at The University of Chicago Medicine. His current research is concerned with understanding how psychedelic drugs affect the function of brain neural networks. His clinical work underwritten by the Block Hassenfeld Family Foundation includes directing the Adult REACT program, addressing psychological trauma in victims of community violence and their families seen at the Level 1 Trauma Center at UChicago.


222 West Merchandise Mart Plaza, #1230
Chicago, IL 60654 United States
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