Thursday, January 27, 2011

NAMI’s 2011 Priorities

by Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Executive Director

Over the next few weeks, NAMI members will be receiving in the mail their copies of The Advocate, NAMI’s flagship print publication. There will be a compelling collection of articles in the issue, including interviews with actress Jodie Foster and author Mark Vonnegut as well as other features on genetics and mental illness and African American mental health.

The issue will list many of NAMI’s priorities for 2011. One of them is the fight to protect and strengthen state mental health services despite ongoing state budget cuts, which I discussed in my last entry. But there are also other priorities. Some of these include:
  • Ensuring successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also know as the new health care reform law, which includes Medicaid expansion;.
  • Celebrating of the 20th anniversary of NAMI’s Family-to-Family education program, including expansion of its partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs;
  • Demanding early identification and effective treatment of mental illnesses in children and adolescents;
  • Continuing NAMI’s leadership in criminal justice reforms, especially through our Crisis Intervention Training  (CIT) Technical Assistance Center for police, advocates and communities;
  • Strengthening the role of NAMI’s Consumer Council;
  • Continuing to develop cultural competency both in NAMI and throughout the mental health care system;
  • Providing technical assistance to NAMI’s 1,100 state and local affiliates to achieve “standards of excellence” that will strengthen grassroots activities; and
  • Increasing technological capacity for information and communications, including social media, and continuing to build our StrengthofUs  web community for youth, ages 18-24.
At NAMI we are proud of what we have accomplished over the past 30 years, but my sense is that in 2011 we are needed more than ever before.

As President Obama declared this past week in his State of the Union address, there is much work to be done “to win the future.”  Working together, we can make a difference.


Anonymous said...

NAMI, a program to the parents. what a shame. has nami seriously forgotten about the people living with mental illness. seriously. i am finally saying that i am ashamed to be be part of NAMI in Connecticut.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I am the parent of 2 children who suffer from mental illness. My son, 24, has suffered for the past ten years with schizophrenia. It has been an exhausting struggle trying to get sufficient treatment for him. He has been in and out of the system with no cohesive plan. During this time he has racked up numerous fines, medical bills and warrants. Even though he has been committed to state hospitals the police and the "system" seem to treat his illness as though it is his fault. There has been a revolving door over the years that has left our son to fend for himself and we as parents very frustrated as to where to turn. He currently has landed in a group home after this past episode. As usual the police must get involved and now he is going through the courts once again. In our experience it appears police have very little training in dealing with the mentally ill so they treat them as criminals. I begged and pleaded this time with the courts and the police to listen to our story and for them to help us get him the treatment he needs desperately. So far we have made some progress but it is a constant fight since we are told there are very little resources. Inevitably he is turned over to us or out on the streets. Then the cycle starts all over. As for my daughter,18, she suffers from paranoia and bipolar disorder. She has barely attended school in this past year which is her senior year. Again, the school just seems to want her to go away. They have no idea how to help her. I have been trying to advocate for her as best as I can. As a parent I am exhausted by all of this. I almost think it would be easier dealing with a diagnosis of cancer or diabetes. At least there is more help available in those areas. There is such a stigma with mental illness and it is a very expensive illness to treat. My children take a cocktail of drugs for their symptoms yet we still have not hit the right ones.

Anonymous said...

As a donor, I'm very interested in your activities, but when I see NAMI is fighting for the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, I begin to wonder if I'm giving to the right organizaiton.
Other than the expansion of Medicaid, what do you see in the bill that has you want to fight for its implementation?

Therese Avant said...

If stigma is not reduced, all else fails. Without the lessening of stigma, lives are lessened, hope is lessened, promises are lessened, defeat is imminent.

There is one pillar, upon which all the other pillars depend: the pillar of equality, of illness as illness, not illness as a brand of shame.

Work to reduce stigma.

That should be foremost.

Anonymous said...

Is any attention being given to the disparity between mental health and physical health coverage under long term disability? Why is this unfair discrimination, the allowance of benefits of only two years for mental conditions as opposed to liftime for other, allowed to continue? I have not seen or read of any involvement by NAMI in this problem. What is being done? Why are you allowing the long term insurance companies to get away with this?

Journey said...

Mr. Fitzpatrick,

What type of technical assistance do you need to help NAMI's 1,100 state organizations and local affiliates achieve "standards of excellence" that will strengthen grassroots activities?

What needs to be done to increase the technological capacity for information and communication, including social media?

How can help be provided for little NAMI outposts in poorer counties such as the one in Hernando county in Florida?

Anonymous said...

I am totally against the new health care program because it does not address preventive measures that we should all take.

How can anyone Like NAMI on Facebook without being ashamed and labeled?? There is no way anyone can do this without ridicule and humiliation. Coworkers & supervisors are terribly mean!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your hard work on the behalf of those with mental
illness. I was diagnosed bi-polar in my 40's. It has been a challenging time for me & for my family. I would like to be more of a part of NAMI.

jordan said...

I have read your priority list and I believe it is missing the most important action. "The Movement of Meditation in the world to conquer Mental Illness." It is the most important concept above all medicine that is. I am it's ambassador because I have conquered it, Schizophrenia, which I had for years, and due to the study of this most important principle artform, I found calmness and peace. I am looking to talk to whomever I can and to set up conferences and meeting where I can speak to the public and those whom are mentally sick that they might find the healing that is there. I know these things. There is truly no other way. I would die for these words. I'd like to get in touch with yourself so I may further this development, above that of psychological reasearch and traditions. They teach and are starting to in many different hospitals across the U.S. to incorporate "Mindfullness into their practice." It has been found in study it is more helpful than medicine.

Anonymous said...

I am a little dismayed. THere is a lot of focus on family to family and children through young adults, however that is not the only demographic. As the population ages, there are a lot of people in their 30s, 40s, on up being diagnosed and also still living with a mental illness. Aside from the mention of health care, we don't appear to be a large focus which is one of the reasons it is hard to recruit fellow consumers to NAMI. Its turning primarily into strictly a family and young people group. Where do older consumers go for the advocacy and support we need. Many are being warehoused in jails and nursing homes. Does NAMI care?

Anonymous said...

People only care about the children, once a person turns 18, nobody cares to do anything about the discrimination, judgments, violations to the constitutional rights of equal access. Who holds these ADA violators accountable? NO ONE! Who provides ADA awareness for the ignorant people who think people with learning disabilities should not be in college? NO ONE!! Who holds university faculty accountable for their discriminatory actions? NO ONE!! Who keeps these ADA violators from further encouraging these stigmas? NO ONE!! NO BODY GIVES A D%&n about it, not the school, not the chancellors office, not judicial affairs, not NAMI (atleast that ive seen). Why do so many people with learning disabilities drop out of school and not afforded the same opportunity for a college education? BECAUSE WE ARE OVER 18? Why does education no longer matter when you turn 18? I WANT ANSWERS!!!