Jul 17, 2018
The vision that Suzette, NAMI, and the Schizophrenia Care Project all share is the belief that all people living with mental illness, and all families touched by mental illness deserve to live supported, informed, productive and meaningful lives.
Suzette reviewed the history of NAMI from it’s humble start in Madison, Wisconsin to the present. In a personal revelation, she spoke of her own son who has been affected with bipolar disorder; as a school age child had anxiety and depression. She reviewed programs and outreach, and the mission to support, educate and advocate on behalf of those affected by mental illness directly or in the biological family or family of choice.
The local NAMI has several departments including support at a peer to peer level, and family support levels. We noted NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) programs to support caregivers, especially the 12 week long class for caregivers of folks over age 18, and for those living with mental illness under 18 there is a “Basic” 6 week class program. They are “signature programs.” Additionally, Dr Ken moderates a Facebook group (S-Project) for caregivers.
We defined the “Lived Experience” concept of the Schizophrenia Care Project and in Suzette & NAMI’s outreach, education, and support work. The “peer” is someone who has lived experience with mental illness. Staff at NAMI often have lived experience as well. This helps strengthen the culture of compassion and care for the services being provided. It should be noted that in Dr Ken Campos’ planned Schizophrenia Care Project Foundation residential homes this plan exists. It is his vision to instill and maintain such a culture of compassion among the staff -- from psychiatrist, to psychiatric technicians, to peers, to the cook and gardeners.
Next, we discussed other programs such as the “NAMI – Walk” event in San Diego, which is a fundraiser walk and also a resource fair. We reviewed the National NAMI convention, and a state convention. Suzette told a success story of a young adult, transition age young man living with schizophrenia, and his initial down times, and subsequent growth into a thriving competent volunteer and activist. Acting with loving support is the solution. She emphasizes that hope and supportive people are always there.