Archives for June 2013

Facing Mental Illness – facts & stats

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2011 Infographic
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NAMI National Convention update from San Antonio!

I am at the Nami National Convention in San Antonio. The thing that strikes me the most is how there is this diverse group of people who have all come together because of a shared experience. We come from all over the United States. We come from a variety of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds but we all share one thing in common and that is our lives have been impacted by mental illness.

It is amazing to me how this one commonality somehow forms an instant bond and openness with complete strangers.

I experienced this on the shuttle as I was traveling to my hotel. A woman had on a NAMI polo shirt. A young man next to me asked her if she was here for the convention. Then I said “I’m here from Atlanta and NAMI Northside” . Before you knew it 5 other people were introducing themselves from different affiliates and states. There were only 3 people on the shuttle who had nothing to do with the convention. Open conversations were struck up about programs they were involved in and what they hoped to learn at the convention. It made me wonder what the other 3 non-Nami participants on the shuttle thought about our open and stigma free conversations about mental illness.

Tonight I attended a screening for the documentary “Of Two Minds”. It was produced by Lisa Klein whose sister suffered from Bi-Polar disorder and died from suicide. The documentary follows 4 persons over a 3 year period. Quotes that stood out for me in the documentary were:

“People have a complete misunderstanding of what mental illness is like.”
” Those living with bi-polar disorder find inspiration in truth.”
“The hardest part was learning that the parts of my life that I enjoyed the most were the illness.”
“Sadness is different than depression because sadness goes away.”

It was an inspiring movie with moments of laughter, sadness, and hope. It showed what it is like to struggle to live with this brain disorder from the perspective of both the individual with the illness and their loved ones.

Tomorrow is a day packed with opportunities for learning. Some sessions I look forward to experiencing are:

  • Out of Crisis and Into Treatment: Key Partnerships for Success. It will provide an overview of Bexar County’s model for building a strong infrastructure of community-based services and supports.
  • “Road Map” For Empowering Families to Collaborate with Professionals: A Flexible Train-The -Trainer Curriculum.
  • Special Presentation: “I’m Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help” by Xavier Amador

I look forward to sharing more from the NAMI Convention in San Antonio tomorrow!

Neitcha Thomsen
Nami Northside Atlanta

From the Treatment Advocacy Center, an amazing FREE app for your smartphone to help families during a crisis situation.

Read Neitcha’s updates from DAYS 2 & 3.

View the convention’s Full Program.

White House Conference on Mental Health

NAMI Press Release:

ARLINGTON, Va., June 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Michael J. Fitzpatrick,  Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  issued this statement after attending the White House Conference on Mental Health on June 3, 2013:

NAMI applauds President Obama’s leadership in convening the White House Conference on Mental Health.

NAMI is grateful for both the opportunity to participate in the conference directly and to have shared information and expertise for resources,  including the Obama administration’s new www.mentalhealth.gov website, which features NAMI’s video interview with Yashi Brown as a voice for hope and recovery. We also look forward to our partnership with the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and North American Interfraternity Council (NIC), cited by the White House, for presentations on approximately 800 campuses starting this fall.

Today’s conference and many activities to follow in the weeks and months ahead are part of the national dialogue on mental health that the President promised after the Newtown, Conn. tragedy in December 2012.

It is a dialogue that must occur in communities throughout the country, but with a clear understanding that although talk must precede action, the result must be to stimulate action. The significance of the conference is that it reflects new kinds of collaborations and partnerships that extend beyond the traditional mental health community.

The challenge is to expand awareness and support for improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. That means creating a mental health care system that is truly accessible to all who need it, when they need it.

In 2000, President Clinton convened the first White House conference on Mental Health. In 2003, President Bush created a Presidential Commission on Mental Health. Progress resulted, leading particularly to enactment of mental health insurance parity.  But we still have a long, long way to go in building an effective mental health care system.

President Obama’s White House Conference is a call to keep building on progress.  It is a call to build new community partnerships. It is a call to expand mental health care—including Medicaid, which NAMI recently highlighted in a special report. It is a call for support of young people, veterans and others, goals that NAMI shares.

NAMI looks forward to continuing to participate in the national dialogue.