Mental Health Education Conference Oct. 21 will feature humorist and radio personality John Moe

The 18th annual Mental Health Education Conference sponsored by the Twin Cities Jewish community, “Hope, Humor and Healing – Finding Light in Dark Places,” will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at Temple Israel (2323 Fremont Ave. S., Minneapolis).


The event, which is free and open to people of all faiths and spiritualities, will feature a keynote address from John Moe, host of the podcast The Hilarious World of Depression.


In addition to the keynote address, the conference will offer two breakout sessions of workshops with 28 topics to choose from, covering mental health issues affecting youth to people in the later stages of life. Workshop topics include helping young people overcome anxiety, media fatigue, caring for someone experiencing dementia, addiction and recovery, Emotional Freedom Techniques, and many more. The event will also include a resource fair with free educational materials, local resources, and books on mental health and addiction available for purchase. This year’s keynote session will include an 18th anniversary video and a closing ceremony, Music of Hope and Light, led by Wendy Goldberg.


In late 2016, humorist and radio personality John Moe launched a new podcast to tackle the topic of depression and other mental illnesses. The Hilarious World of Depression features him having personal, candid conversations with some of America’s funniest comedians and personalities about their own experiences and struggles with depression, anxiety, and attempted suicide, among other things. Guests such as Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter and Jen Kirkman talk about how they’ve dealt with depression and managed to laugh along the way.


The Hilarious World of Depression is made possible by a grant from HealthPartners and its Make It OK campaign (, which works to reduce stigma. The subject is one that hits close to home for John, who first experienced his own depression in middle school and lost his older brother to suicide in 2007. He pledged at the time of his brother’s death to speak up about depression, work to reduce stigma and shame, and encourage people to get help.


Before launching the depression podcast, John hosted Future Tense (later renamed Marketplace Tech Report) and the variety show Wits on public radio. His books include Conservatize Me (2006), Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences (2014) and The Deleted E-Mails of Hillary Clinton: A Parody (2015).


Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS) and Jewish Family Service of St. Paul (JFS) present the Mental Health Education Conference (MHEC). It strives to raise awareness of mental health issues, provide support for individuals and families, and offer education on topics affecting all ages.


Registration for the conference can be completed online or by mail. To register online, click here. To register by mail, call JFS at 651-698-0767 to request a conference brochure and registration form. Everyone who registers by Oct. 5 will receive a box lunch at no charge.


18th (chai) anniversary

This year marks the 18th (chai) anniversary of the conference. Chai in Hebrew means both the number 18 and the word life. The Mental Health Education Conference was created in 2001 as an indirect response to the tragic death of Barbara Schneider, a Minneapolis woman active in the Twin Cities Jewish community who struggled with severe mental illness.


This year will also mark Conference Coordinator Laurie Kramer’s last year in this role –she plans to hand over the reins and move into a volunteer role for future conferences. Kramer was the primary driving force of the inaugural Conference, and has served as the Conference Coordinator every year since. “It’s the chai year – I wanted to go out on a chai note,” she smiled. Click here for more on Kramer and the history of the Mental Health Education Conference.


The new Conference Coordinator for the Mental Health Education Conference is Sharon Goldetsky – or 952-417-2149.