Schizophrenia and Computers!

Computer-Delivered Cognitive Training Significantly Helped Schizophrenia Patients in Rehab Setting
eNews from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Cognitive difficulties experienced by people with schizophrenia are the symptoms of the illness that tend to have the greatest impact on daily functioning and overall quality of life. Individuals who have reduced interest in activities, problems remembering and learning, or interpreting verbal cues, find it very difficult to hold jobs or cultivate social relationships that are central in normal functioning.
Knowing that the medicines commonly used to treat psychotic symptoms have no meaningful impact on the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia, researchers have been trying for years to find therapies that will specifically improve cognitive functioning. Targeted cognitive training (TCT) has recently been shown to have moderate to high effectiveness when administered in carefully controlled academic settings. The training method targets the brain’s auditory processing system, in which deficits have been shown to correlate with patients’ deficits in auditory perception and verbal learning.
Read entire article HERE.

2018 NAMI GA Annual Conference April 20-21

Get more information and register NOW for NAMI Georgia’s Annual Conference
After April 18 you must register at the door.
The Clubhouse Forum begins at 11:15 AM on Saturday and will be a “blue ribbon” event featuring Jack Yatsko, COO of Clubhouse International as well as representatives from three successful Clubhouses.
“What Is A Clubhouse” flyer
“Clubhouses – Benefits that Exceed Expectations” flyer
Email for more information on the Clubhouse Forum portion of the Conference.


When Love is Not Enough

When Love is Not Enough: Know When to Seek Help
One in five children in the U.S. show signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year. Yet, nearly 80% of children who need mental health services don’t get them. Parents and caregivers often don’t know what to do to help a child who is struggling with a mental illness.
Attend the forum to hear an in-depth conversation about the mental health crises affecting children and families. Learn the signs to look for at home, and how to partner with schools and community agencies to address mental health concerns.
REGISTER at EventBrite.

Early Intervention for BPD

Greener Pastures Initiative

Greetings NAMI Northsiders and Friends:
Greener Pastures lay ahead!
This month, we had a very special meeting in place of our normal education meeting.
As we reflect on the many positive things that we have
accomplished in recent years,
we know there is much more that can be done to support
individuals suffering with a mental illness, their families and caregivers.
Annually, NAMI Northside serves approximately 5000 people via our website
and makes over 2000 in-person contacts via our Support Groups,
education meetings, and education classes such as Family to Family.
Since 2013, we have sponsored an annual Mental Health Fair showcasing
services and advocacy for individuals suffering with mental illness.
Every October we sponsor a Team for NAMI Walks, a nationwide
fundraising and mental health awareness program, using the funds collected to finance
our many support programs.
For the near term, we will continue to enhance the services we currently provide and focus on some new and exciting services:
Creating a high quality Resource Directory, adding new classes and programs like NAMI Homefront serving Veterans suffering from a mental illness and their families, and increasing our level of advocacy.
For the longer term, we will focus on major new services such as
housing support and a clubhouse for our NAMI Northside community.
In order to meet the above goals, we are launching the “Greener Pastures
Initiative, designed to support the current state of services as well as provide new offerings and programs.
At our June 27th monthly education meeting, we will be presenting our future plans and
ideas for NAMI Northside and will be discussing the many opportunities for you,
the members of our NAMI family, to get involved and support the “Greener Pastures” Initiative.
Whether you have a little time or a lot of time to get involved, our NAMI family needs
Together we can accomplish great things! GO GREEN!
Click HERE to get involved and complete a volunteer form.

Making the Impossible Possible!


On April 23, 2016 NAMI Northside Atlanta brought together close to 200 people to start a conversation about recovery, support, success stories, gaps in service and what might be possible for our mental health system in Georgia. The guest speakers included Nora Haynes, Larry Fricks, Sue Smith, Judge Asha Jackson and Bill Carruthers. These speakers represented many of the successful and innovative programs currently in place in Georgia.
Larry Fricks spoke about the move towards Whole Body Health in recovery treatment. He shared that meaning and purpose in life is the top thing that is important for recovery. We all recognize that this is important to every individual and that mental illness can often be a barrier to achieving this. It is important for all individuals to have access to purpose and meaning in life through jobs, social networks or through service to others.
Judge Asha Jackson shared her personal passion for the support of treatment instead of punishment of individuals impacted by mental illness. She has been a key figure in advocating for the Dekalb County Felony Mental Health Court in Georgia. She called for the need to address the gap for individuals with co-occurring disorders. Many individuals have contact with the judicial system as a result of the symptoms of their mental illness. Often they are not considered “sick enough” in order to participate in the Mental Health Diversion Court. There are just not enough resources and treatment options for those individuals who are deemed, “not sick enough”.
Sue Smith of the Georgia Parent Support Network spoke about the importance of early intervention for youth experiencing their first psychotic break. Mental health researchers have demonstrated the importance of early intervention and the long term impact on recovery for the individuals. There are several early intervention programs currently in Georgia including Epic. Learn more about these programs at and go to to find a list and location of services. Ms Smith spoke of the need for more resources and supports for parents who have children experiencing mental health issues. She stated “this has to be a movement and we all need to be a part of it.”
Mr. Bill Carruthers is an inspirational speaker who shared his experience of the impact access to mental health resources and “purpose and meaning in life” can have on recovery. He spoke of the success NAMI has had in supporting families and the need to offer more support to individuals with a mental illness diagnosis. We are all aware of the huge impact that peer families (families who have walked our same path) offer to other families. This needs to be extended to include more peers diagnosed with a brain disorder in recovery actively participating and included in NAMI education and support programs. Individuals are more open and receptive to others who have already walked the same path. NAMI needs to focus on our shared goal of ending stigma and offering education and support.
There is a need to keep this conversation moving forward. Georgia is on the mend. Providing a venue for programs such as the mental health fair can assist in promoting the continued progress forward. Offering more support groups, educational opportunities and mental health resources will open up the door for our community to heal. Robert Byrne once said “The purpose of life is a life of purpose”. How true for all of us! Let’s all join together to support those in our community impacted by mental illness.
You can help continue this call to mend the mental health system in Georgia by supporting the efforts of NAMI Northside Atlanta at . We currently have an anonymous donor who will match your donations up to $10,000. Won’t you help us to make the impossible possible?
Neitcha Thomsen
NNA Board Member

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.

2016 Mental Health Fair April 23!

Mend / verb
repair (something that is broken or damaged)
synonyms: repair, fix, put back together, piece together, restore; sew (up), stitch, darn, patch, cobble; rehabilitate, renew, renovate
As individuals and families impacted by mental illness, we have a lot of experience in attempting to repair relationships, piece together resources or restore our sense of hope. We can all agree that the mental health system in the United States is broken. Approximately 43.8 million adults experience mental illness a year in our country. Many individuals and organizations are working tirelessly each day to repair and renovate mental health treatment services that are so desperately needed. One of our guest panelists for this year’s NAMI Northside Atlanta Mental Health Fair is Larry Fricks, the founder of Georgia’s Peer Specialist Training and Certification program. Being a Certified Peer Specialist not only provides an opportunity for the individuals they serve to begin to mend but it provides a sense of purpose, belonging, goals, dreams and health to the Peer Specialist. Georgia needs more mental health service organizations employing Certified Peer Specialists who can address the special needs of individuals impacted by mental illness in a unique and very effective way due to their lived experience.
Many things are needed for an individual or family to mend. When the family or the individual is asked “what have you lost” due to the impact of mental illness, it is often very similar things. Both individuals and family members will list the loss of: jobs, sense of self, dreams, goals, health, sense of purpose, friends, family, money, security and much more. These losses impact all the parts that give a person or family a sense of wellbeing. It impacts their mind, body and spirit. In order to begin the process of mending or recovery, these all need to be addressed. NAMI has several programs which assist individuals in this process of mending. NAMI offers both peer and family support groups to address all these areas. The educational programs such as Family-to-Family and Peer-to-Peer address the mind through education and skill building about mental health along with providing a sense of belonging. Volunteering with NAMI can address the spiritual side of a person and provide a sense of purpose and nurturing.
In order to mend and move toward recovery, individuals and families need to move through their grief process. According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ theory of the five stages of grief, people have certain needs during these stages. They are the need for communication, education, emotional support, guidance and direction. We have some organizations which meet these needs for individuals and families, but we need more. Many people do not have access to these mental health services due to barriers of money, location and the number of individuals the organization is able to serve. Georgia has begun the movement towards mending of our mental health system. NAMI Northside Atlanta hopes to support this movement of restoration by opening a dialog at our Mental Health Fair and highlighting the providers of mental health services that currently exist and are working well.
I will be highlighting some of the programs, people and organizations who are helping Georgia mend in future posts to this website. My hope is that with knowledge about what is working in Georgia we can begin a dialog about what is working and what is needed in the future to expand the number of services available to individuals and families impacted by mental illness. I hope you will join me.
Neitcha Thomsen
Nami Northside Atlanta Board Member

New biomarker identified in women with mental illness

A new biomarker identified in women with mental illness.

From Medical News Today, June 22, 2015:

Psychiatric disorders can be difficult to diagnose because clinicians must rely upon interpreted clues, such as a patient’s behaviors and feelings. For the first time, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report identifying a biological marker: the over-production of specific genes that could be a diagnostic indicator of mental illness in female psychiatric patients.

“There has been an utmost urgency to identify biomarkers for mental illness that could significantly impact research and drug development,” said Xianjin Zhou, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and lead author.

Zhou and his team said reversing the abnormal activity of the inactive X chromosome in patients suffering from mental illness may offer a potential new strategy for treating psychiatric disorders.

“Our results indicate that a large subpopulation of female psychiatric patients from the general population may have abnormal function of the inactive X chromosome,” said Zhou. “These results are powerful in that early diagnosis of mental illness could possibly happen with a simple blood test, leading to better interventions, therapy and treatment options.”

Read entire article at

Genetic mutations and schizophrenia

Researchers have identified genetic mutations that may cause schizophrenia

From Medical News Today:

Schizophrenia affects around 2.4 million adults in the US. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but past research has suggested that genetics may play a part. Now, investigators from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, NY, have uncovered clues that may build on this concept.

Although the cause of schizophrenia is unknown, researchers have established that the condition is hereditary. Around 1% of the general population have the illness, but it occurs in around 10% of individuals who have a first-degree relative with the condition, such as a parent, brother or sister.

According to the CUMC research team, past studies have focused on searching for individual genes that may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. But they note that new high-throughput DNA sequencing technology is now available, which allows researchers to investigate whether a combination of genes may trigger schizophrenia.

Read entire article at