First 5 Mendocino Hosts Successful Children’s Mental Health Summit

Staff from First 5 Mendocino with Dr. Bryson and Gaelin Elmore



Contact: Megan Carson, Community Education Manager 

(707) 462-4453 |

Ukiah, CA – As part of its ongoing work to support the well-being of local children, First 5 Mendocino hosted its annual Children’s Mental Health Summit in Ukiah on May 11 and 12. This year’s event featured renowned experts Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, Dr. Robert Sege, and Gaelin Elmore, who addressed the critical topic of children’s mental health and included a community-wide conversation on nurturing resilient and emotionally healthy children.

The first five years of a child’s life determine their baseline ability to cope with stress, how well they can focus their attention, regulate their emotions, plan for the future, and have empathy for others. When children are raised in a well-resourced family and community, these early experiences interact with genetics to provide the best opportunity for them to thrive, first in school and then in life.

The Children’s Mental Health Summit, a collaborative effort among First 5 Mendocino and its partners, aimed to create a platform for professionals, parents, educators, and caregivers to gain valuable insights into promoting positive mental health in children and building strong foundations for their future well-being.

Dr. Tina Bryson, acclaimed child psychologist and co-author of the bestselling books The Power of Showing Up and The Whole-Brain Child, shared her expertise on brain development, attachment, and the integration of neuroscience and psychology. Her engaging presentation provided attendees with practical strategies to help children regulate emotions, manage stress, and foster healthy relationships. According to First 5 Mendocino’s Community Education Manager Megan Carson, Dr. Bryson’s approach was grounded in refreshing humility with encouraging reminders that our children do not need perfection, they simply need us to be emotionally present. Dr. Bryson suggested that adults can show up in meaningful ways using the “4 S’s” of secure attachment to help children feel safe, seen, soothed, and secure.

Gaelin Elmore, a passionate advocate for children’s mental health and a survivor of childhood trauma, shared his personal journey and highlighted the significance of empathy, support, and resilience in healing and recovery. His inspiring message on belonging resonated with attendees, emphasizing the power of community in uplifting young lives. He reminded attendees that each of them—and all adults who interact with children—can make a profound difference in children’s lives in small but significant connections, “the simple ways we show up.”

Dr. Robert Sege, renowned pediatrician and expert on children’s health and well-being, delivered a compelling talk on Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences (HOPE), and the powerful impact of positive childhood experiences (PCEs). PCEs can greatly improve overall mental health of children, even those who have experienced many adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Dr. Sege emphasized the importance of resilience-informed care and providing children with early positive experiences in life to mitigate the effects of adverse experiences.

There were also interactive workshops by Ozlem Ozdener, a yoga teacher from Sonoma County, who shared about the benefits of movement in helping children process and heal from trauma. Additionally, there were workshops presented by First 5 Staff, Townley Saye and Jade Aldrich, teaching wellness skills from the Community Resiliency Model. The conference wrapped up with a Panel Discussion featuring Dr. Sege, Mr. Elmore, and three local professionals, Ben Anderson, Erica D’Anis, and Brian Williams, who are invested in the work of improving the healthy outcomes for children in our community.

The event catered to a diverse range of participants, including mental health professionals, educators, community leaders, parents, and social workers. Through interactive workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities, attendees gained a deeper understanding of children’s mental health issues and acquired practical tools to better support the children in their care.

“We are thrilled with the overwhelming response to our summit,” said Townley Saye, Executive Director of First 5 Mendocino. “The expertise shared by Dr. Bryson, Dr. Sege, and Gaelin Elmore has been invaluable, and we believe this summit will serve as a catalyst for positive change in our community. We hope that the knowledge gained and the connections made during this event will lead to better outcomes for all children in Mendocino County.”

First 5 Mendocino extends its gratitude to the Ukiah Valley Conference Center, who hosted the event, Kristin Gilmore of Potter Valley Café Catering, who provided the catering, Holiday Express, who provided accommodations for our presenters and guests from out of town, community partners, and all participants who contributed to the success of the Children’s Mental Health Summit. First 5 Mendocino remains committed to advocating for the well-being of children and plans to continue to host informative events that empower individuals and communities.

For more information about First 5 Mendocino and its upcoming initiatives, please visit

Photo Credit: Gregorio Prieto, GYO Productions


About First 5 Mendocino
First 5 Mendocino is a leading organization dedicated to improving the lives of children ages zero to five in Mendocino County, California. Through innovative programs, strategic partnerships, and community engagement, First 5 Mendocino promotes early childhood development, supports parents and caregivers, and advocates for policies that prioritize the needs of young children.

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