Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Exciting Year Lights the Way for a Bright Future

By Mike Fitzpatrick, NAMI Executive Director

As another eventful year draws to a close, we continue to be inspired by so many passionate NAMI members and supporters. Thank you for your tireless efforts to make a difference in the lives of the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Despite the efforts of many in the provider community and in government, the gaps in the treatment system continue to widen. As the economic depression holds steady, the chasm between need and care continues to be devastating for persons with mental illness and their loved ones. Too many people with mental illness both young and old, including many returning military and their families, do not get the right help in the right place at the right time. Communities suffer and families break under the strain. Tragedies take place every day in our communities—suicides, homelessness, arrests, incarcerations, school drop-out and more. These are the challenges that we will confront in 2012.

2012 is also an election year. There is no better opportunity to engage your elected national, state, county and local representatives than an election year. Be active. These are perilous times. Organize, participate in forums, talk with the candidates, work on campaigns, and be active and visible. The potential for change is significant. It is essential that we get the change that we want.

Tell candidates how mental illness has impacted your life and why effective services and treatments must be funded. Demand transparency and public accountability. Tell them why research where scientific discoveries make tangible improvements in the treatment system and the lives of people living with mental illness is essential.

As we turn the corner into the New Year, we are thankful for:

NAMIWalks, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary as the premier mental health walk event in America. Thousands will walk in communities with the sponsorship of local businesses and other supporters to raise hope and increase the visibility of mental illness as an illness like any other. We are also excited to in 2012 to continue our roll out of NAMIBikes cycling events in a number of communities.

The NAMI Basics education program, which is now available in 36 states, recently had the results of a two year research study published verifying it as evidenced based practice.

The NAMI Family-to-Family program that continues to reach thousands of families each year recently celebrated its 20th year with a newly completed research study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Our NAMI Connection program, which now offers free peer led groups in 47 states. We now offer our Conexión NAMI peer groups in even more Spanish-speaking communities.

Our In Our Own Voice program, which continues to reach tens of thousands people with the message that recovery is possible.

Our recently created First Episodes of Psychosis website, which is now beginning to meet the needs of individuals and families who are seeking essential information and support.

The NAMI Child and Adolescent Action Center, which just released its newest publication titled, A Family Guide: Integrating Mental Health and Pediatric Primary Care [PDF]. This publication is very timely given the move toward integrating primary health care with mental health care.

The NAMI Multicultural Action Center, which continues to expand the reach of its effective Sharing Hope program into African American faith communities.

The NAMI Crisis Intervention Center, which recently published an innovative CIT for youth toolkit [PDF] as part of its overall effort to make the training of police on mental illness the norm in all communities.

We are also thankful for our busy website which has become an essential site for information on mental illness for millions. In 2012 we will be replacing the platform for this website which will give us much more capacity to serve you. Thousands of supporters now regularly engage us through Facebook and Twitter and our Helpline continues annually to receive thousands of calls.

Our collective efforts can and do make a difference in people’s lives. Together we confront stigma and injustice. Together in 2012 we will face risks, problems and opportunities. Join us in our Countdown to Recovery and help ensure a promising year. Together we will make a difference!

Happy Holidays! We wish you the joys of the season and our sincere appreciation for all that you do.

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