Archives for April 2016

Georgia on the Mend

Our NNA Mental Health Fair, “Georgia on the Mend”, is a celebration of the organizations and individuals who have been instrumental in opening the door to opportunities for recovery to individuals and families impacted by mental illness. Can you imagine all of the lost opportunities if people had just given up and said “I am just one person, what difference can I make.”? One of the NAMI Support Group quotes is “We will never give up hope”. Bringing together the community and mental health organizations is our way of saying there is hope for a better mental health system in Georgia. We have seen what works. We are highlighting the programs that work and encouraging the conversation about expanding these resources.
One such program that works is the Opening Doors to Recovery program (ODR). This program partnered with prisons and supported returning individuals impacted by mental illness to their communities along with assisting them to navigate the system and begin their path to recovery. The program put together peer, family and professional navigation specialists. This year we are fortunate to have Nora Haynes and Bill Carruthers on our panel at “Georgia on the Mend”. They are two key individuals who played instrumental parts in the Opening Doors to Recovery program. In addition we have Judge Jackson who initiated the creation of the Dekalb County Felony Mental Health Court. Both of these programs are helping individuals and families impacted by mental illness mend in Georgia. I encourage you to watch the following two videos to learn more: and


Click HERE to learn more about our Mental Health Fair and/or register for the free lunch.

4th Annual Mental Health Fair April 23!

There has been a shift in the mental health system from a Medical Model to a Recovery Model. There was more focus on disease, disability, staff-client hierarchy, social separation, dependence and compliance to a plan. The mental health system is now putting more focus on a Recovery Model which is driven by identified client strengths, holistic treatment, social integration and resiliency.
Have you heard about the 5 Peer Support and Wellness Centers in Georgia (PSWC)? The Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network was established in 1991. It supports such endeavors as the Georgia Peer Support Institute along with the Peer Support and Wellness Centers. Currently these centers are located in Decatur, White County, Bartow County, Colquitt County and Henry County. These wellness centers provide activities, respite beds, a warm-line and trained peers who can assist in aiding a client in their recovery. Certified Peer Specialists are trained in trauma informed care along with skills to help a client develop a Wellness Recovery Action Plan.
When I reflect on the many ways individuals and families impacted by mental illness are “on the mend” in Georgia, I often think of the impact peers can provide. NAMI support group meetings are facilitated by peer volunteers who provide hope, support and lived experience. This is also experienced in our Family-to-Family classes which are facilitated by individuals who have a loved one with a mental illness. Many times our peers can have much more impact on us than mental health professionals and provide us with the knowledge that “we are not alone.” In addition organizations such as NAMI and the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network serve to promote a focus on strengths, resiliency and social integration. The individuals and the families impacted by mental illness are all going through their own recovery journey. We have some proven recovery resources in Georgia and there is a need to expand these so that more people in our community have access to them. I encourage you to visit the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network website at along with viewing a video that highlights a respite center in Massachusetts at
Please join me in learning more about the ways Georgia is moving forward in the mental health system at our 4th annual NAMI Northside Atlanta Mental Health Fair, “Georgia on the Mend”, on April 23, 2016 and learn more about mental health resources in our community. Register to attend this free event at . Be sure to check back on this blog to learn about more organizations and programs impacting the recovery process.
Neitcha Thomsen
NNA Board Member

peer support

Chronicles of Hope April 16!

Recovery Symposium-1