NAMI shares the grief of the rest of the world over the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525.  We extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this senseless tragedy.

As often happens in tragedies, information emerges first through an immediate frenzy of reporting in news media and then through more careful analysis. It is always best not to speculate on causes, but to wait until all facts are confirmed and assessed.

In this case, as news cycles have progressed, we’ve been told that the co-pilot who crashed the plane had some history of depression. Most recently, a German prosecutor has reported that he had “received psychotherapy for an extended period of time, during which suicidal tendencies had been noted,” while the airline has reported in 2009 he had disclosed to them a previous episode of severe depression. Treatment apparently occurred before he received his pilot’s license.

He also apparently was being seen for one or more other medical issues. How relevant those factors actually are remains to be seen.

We know that by crashing the plane, the co-pilot killed himself, along with 149 other people.

We know that most suicides involve mental illness.

In the United States, approximately 40,000 people die from suicide each year.  Obviously, we are falling far too short in suicide prevention.

Typically, suicide involves a struggle between a person and his or her own psychological problem. Murder-suicides are very rare. Murder-suicides conducted by commercial airline pilots are even rarer—extremely rare—although that of course is no consolation to the victims of Flight 9525, their families and friends.

People living with mental illness are rarely violent. Usually, mental illness is only one factor, among several, if not many, that set the stage for violent tragedies.

In the case of Flight 9252’s co-pilot, the fact is that we don’t know his full history yet. We may never know every relevant fact. His precise history of depression, whatever it may have been, may ultimately be seen as unimportant compared to other issues in his life.

Please keep that point in mind as the global conversation now turns to whether anyone who experiences mental illness should be allowed to serve in certain occupations or professions. Mental illness is treatable. People do recover.

Senseless tragedies must not be allowed to resurrect or perpetuate stigmatizing stereotypes that associate anyone with a history of mental illness with a propensity to violence. It will be an additional tragedy if the crash of Flight 9525 leads to “witch hunts” in which people who have sought help for mental illness become unfairly discriminated against.

Sixteen million American adults—almost 7 percent of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.  When depressive symptoms occur, people need to see a doctor for a comprehensive examination. Underlying medical issues that can mimic a depressive episode, side effects from medications or any other medical causes must first be ruled out, before a treatment plan is chosen.

As a society, we need to create a cultural environment in which people are encouraged to seek help when they need it—regardless of whether it is a mental illness or any other illness.  No one should have to hide out of fear of negative consequences or reprisals such as loss of employment or social ridicule.

We want a society that affirms the worth of every individual—the same kind of affirmation that causes us to mourn the loss of so many precious lives on Flight 9525.

RALEIGH, NC (March 25, 2015) – The National Alliance on Mental Illness North Carolina (NAMI North Carolina) has signed their name in support of legislation was introduced in the General Assembly on Monday that will provide tax-advantaged savings options to people with disabilities, including those will mental illness, and their families.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act will give many individuals with disabilities and their families the opportunity to save for the future and fund essential expenses like medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing and transportation. The law allows eligible individuals with disabilities the ability to create “ABLE accounts” which resemble the qualified tuition programs, often called “529 accounts,” that have been established under that section of the tax code since 1996. By saving for and funding critical daily expenses, these ABLE accounts will give North Carolinians with disabilities greater opportunities for long-term financial security.

“We are very excited for what the ABLE Act can mean for families and individuals living with serious mental illness in our state,” said Nicholle Karim, Public Policy Coordinator for NAMI North Carolina. “Now families are able to save money for the future without risking their benefit eligibility.”

To qualify for an ABLE account, an individual must be diagnosed with a qualifying disability prior to age 26. An ABLE account must be established in the state in which the individual lives, and they may have only one account. Anyone can contribute to an ABLE account. However, the maximum annual contribution to an account is currently set at $14,000 with a principal cap of $100,000. Earnings and distribution on ABLE accounts are tax-exempt.

“While we are pleased with the opportunities that this Act affords to eligible families, we understand many understand many families will be disqualified due to the age cap,” said Karim. “We’re looking forward to the day when age limits to qualify are expanded since people can develop mental illness at any point in their life.”

The ABLE Act’s success stems not only from the opportunities it affords qualifying individuals with disabilities, but also the unprecedented, homegrown bipartisan and bicameral support it has received both in Congress and here in the North Carolina General Assembly. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) was a key player in creating the ABLE Act, one of the most bipartisan bills in Congress. Similarly, North Carolina Senators Tamara Barringer, Tom Apodaca and Ralph Hise as well as several supporters in the House see ABLE accounts as a key component in improving the lives of many North Carolinians with disabilities.

For more than 30 years, NAMI North Carolina has provided free support groups, education programs, and advocacy efforts throughout North Carolina. NAMI NC is the state’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to promoting recovery and optimizing the quality of life for those living with mental illness. Founded in 1984, NAMI NC has become North Carolina’s voice on mental illness, serving 34 local affiliates across North Carolina, who join together to meet the NAMI mission. For more information on programs, our advocacy efforts and the 34 affiliate organizations in North Carolina, visit our website at

ARLINGTON, Va., March 17, 2015 — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA), Inc.® have launched a new partnership to expand mental health education, awareness, and support activities on the campuses of colleges and universities and in local communities.

The partnership will enable NAMI, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization, and AKA, the nation’s oldest sorority founded by African American college-trained women, to prepare new volunteer leaders for the future and reach broader constituencies as part of a growing movement to address unmet mental health needs.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is proud to stand with NAMI in the fight for mental health and wellness,” said Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. “Our members will work to bring attention to mental illness among diverse populations with historically low utilization of mental health services.”

“NAMI and AKA will stand together to provide help and hope,” said NAMI Executive Director Mary Giliberti.  ”We are thrilled to be working with one of the nation’s most distinguished service organizations to help individuals and families affected by mental health conditions.  Our common mission will include eliminating fear and discrimination that too often discourage people from seeking help when they need it.”

The first year of the partnership will include:

  • Participation in each organization’s national conventions: The NAMI National Convention is scheduled for July 6-9 in San Francisco.  The AKA Leadership Seminar will be held in Chicago, July 15-19.
  • With NAMI’s support, AKA will organize “Launching 1908 Dance Moves for NAMI,” a community awareness event in downtown Chicago on July 16.
  • Local NAMI Affiliates and AKA chapters across the country will come together to sponsor mental health awareness events, such as AKA/NAMI Awareness Day on April 11 and Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 4-10.
  • National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July will commemorate a special connection between the two organizations.  Congress established the month in 2008 in honor of the late African American novelist, Bebe Moore Campbell, who was both a NAMI member and AKA honorary member.
  • AKA chapters will work with NAMI on Campus clubs at universities and colleges around the country to advance education and support around mental health.

About National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization with approximately 1000 state organizations and local affiliates, dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.  For more information, see

About Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA)

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® (AKA) is an international service organization that was founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908.  It is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college-educated women.  Alpha Kappa Alpha is comprised of more than 283,000 members in 987 graduate and undergraduate chapters in the United States, Liberia, the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Germany, South Korea, Bermuda, Japan, Canada, and South Africa.  Led by International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, Alpha Kappa Alpha is often hailed as “America’s premier Greek-letter organization for African American women.”  For more information on Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and its programs, log onto

SOURCE: National Alliance on Mental Illness


On March 5, 2015, the Governor Pat McCrory unveiled his highly anticipated biennium budget for 2015 – 2017. We have spent the last week carefully reviewing the details of the budget as they relate to folks receiving mental health services. Here are the highlights:

  • Continued funding for the Transitions to Community Living Initiatives to support programs like supported employment and housing for people with mental illness. Additionally, this allocated money will keep the state on track for the DOJ settlement agreement.
  • Creates behavioral health units for 8 prisons across the state, along with improving screening and treatment of mental illness for inmates across the state. Additionally, money would open up an additional 72 mental health beds at Central Prison in Raleigh.
  • Creates 22 positions in DMA to help initiate Medicaid reform through the Governor’s plan of an ACO delivery model
  • Add an additional 30 3-way hospital beds in local communities for acute psychiatric care
  • Create a fourth NC START team that will focus on treating children and adolescents who are dully diagnosed with a mental illness and intellectual or developmental disability
  • Additional funding to support the implementation of behavioral urgent care centers and facility based crisis units to decrease utilization of hospitals for acute psychiatric care
  • Creation of a crisis bed registry for the state in order to locate psychiatric beds available in real time for people who need them
  • Expanding the TASC program, which is aimed at people who are justice-involved and living with a mental illness
  • One time funding for furnishing Broughton Hospital in Morganton

In summary, NAMI NC is pleased to see a variety of services being funded on the array of services for people living with mental illness, along with the creation and expansion of services. Please join us in thanking the Governor’s Office and the Department of Health and Human Services for their leadership in the budget for people living with mental illness!

The 2015 NAMIWalks Team Captain Kickoff Luncheon will be held March 5, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Brier Creek Country Club (9400 Club Hill Drive, Raleigh, NC).

​Who should attend:

  • First time Team Captains
  • Repeat Team Captains
  • Anyone interested in becoming a Team Captain
    • Looking for a way to re-engage, or increase your involvement?  Join us!
  • Past, current and potential NAMIWalks Sponsors

Join us as we celebrate our seasoned Team Captains and welcome new Team Captains to one of the nation’s largest community events raising awareness of and funds for mental illness. 2015 is off to a great start and we’re looking forward to making this the BEST year yet!!!  Won’t you join us for our Back to the Future themed event?? RSVP to

NAMIWalks is the largest and most successful mental health awareness and fundraising event in America! Through NAMIWalks’ public, active display of support for people affected by mental illness, we are changing how Americans view persons with a mental illness. This is leading to ensuring that help and hope are available for those in need. Please join us as we improve lives and our communities one step at a time.

NAMI NC hosted the third biennial North Carolina CIT Conference on February 10, 2015 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. The conference theme was “Our Time is Now: Building the Bridge Together” to highlight the importance of both the law enforcement and mental health communities working together in order to better serve those experiencing a mental health crisis. It was a packed house with over 400 in attendance and we were pleased to have a variety of professions represented at the conference.

Secretaries Frank Perry from the NC Department of Public Safety and Aldona Wos from the Department of Health and Human Services gave opening remarks before keynote speaker, Sheriff Sam Page from Rockingham County, took the stage to discuss the importance of CIT in his community. He showed chilling videos of some interactions he has had with those who may have been experiencing a mental health crisis and how his deputies responded to those situations. He said his deputies are now better prepared to deal with mental illness because of CIT training.

Anthony Pugh, NAMI NC board member, gave a luncheon speech about his lived experience and the intersection of CIT. We all celebrated the accomplishments of award recipients from across the state to their contributions to CIT in their communities. The recipients were:

  • 2015 CIT Volunteer of the Year: Tracey Turner, Buncombe County
  • 2015 CIT Trainer of the Year: Jennifer Harriss, Forsyth County
  • 2015 CIT Partnership of the Year: Forsyth County Crisis Intervention Team
  • 2015 CIT Officer of the Year: Captain Jeff Outen, Union County
  • 2015 Outstanding Law Enforcement Executive of the Year: Sheriff Michael D. Andrews, Durham County
  • 2015 CIT Champion Of the Year: George Reynolds, Jr., Moore County

The conference also featured plenary speaker Sharon Wise, whose talk on Trauma, Recovery and Community Resiliency captivated the audience. She shared her personal story about how she survived drug addiction, abuse, going in and out of the criminal justice system, and her eventual recovery.

There were a variety of breakout sessions that remained packed throughout the day. Topics ranged from veterans to youth to elderly. See Facebook for more pictures from the conference.

The 2015 CIT Conference was featured on WRAL news. Four hundred and fifty attendees from throughout the state attended the conference. The theme of the event, “Our Time is Now: Building the Bridge Together,” highlighted the importance of bridging the space between law enforcement and mental health to more effectively serve those experiencing a crisis.

Click here to watch the segment.

Time Warner Cable News anchor Caroline Blair discusses children and mental health with Jennifer Rothman, Young Families Program Director for their Fit Kids February segment. Watch the clip here.

RALEIGH, NC (February 5, 2015) – The National Alliance on Mental Illness North Carolina (NAMI NC) will be holding the 2015 Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Conference on February 10, 2015. The conference will take place at the Jane S. McKimmon Center in Raleigh from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. NC Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry and NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos will be in attendance.

Over 500 attendees, including law enforcement professionals, will be attending from throughout the state. The theme of the event, “Our Time is Now: Building the Bridge Together,” highlights the importance of bridging the space between law enforcement and mental health to more effectively serve those experiencing a crisis.

The Statewide CIT Conference is part of the national CIT jail diversion program aimed at teaching law enforcement to identify–and effectively and compassionately respond to–police situations involving people in a mental health crisis. The conference will provide opportunities for collaborations that move us toward common goals of safety, understanding and services to those with mental illness in crisis.

“Police are often the first-line responders when someone experiences a psychiatric crisis and displays symptoms of their illness,” said Jack Register, MSW, Executive Director of NAMI NC. “That’s why it’s important for law enforcement to recognize the signs of mental illness in order to avoid unnecessary arrests or costly emergency services.

“Once incarcerated, people with mental illnesses often do not receive the treatments and services they need, are vulnerable to abuse, and have difficulty reconnecting with services on release. For many, the result is years of cycling through the criminal justice system–which is costly for communities, a burden on police and corrections officers, and tragic for people with mental illnesses and their families.”

Sheriff Sam Page, a leader in CIT growth in North Carolina, will be providing the Keynote address. In 1998 he was elected Sheriff of Rockingham County, and has 30 plus years of experience in law enforcement. Sheriff Page is responsible for the rewrite of the Basic Law Enforcement Training Curriculum in 2012 that emphasizes de-escalation and positive strategies.

The conference is made possible through funding from the Governor’s Crime Commission. Planning was done in coordination with the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

For more than 30 years, NAMI North Carolina has provided free support groups, education programs, and advocacy efforts throughout North Carolina. NAMI NC is the state’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to promoting recovery and optimizing the quality of life for those living with mental illness. Founded in 1984, NAMI NC has become North Carolina’s voice on mental illness, serving 34 local affiliates across North Carolina, who join together to meet the NAMI mission. For more information on programs, our advocacy efforts and the 34 affiliate organizations in North Carolina, visit our website at

EducationNC is a new nonpartisan news source inviting you to participate in a bipartisan conversation about public schools. is an online platform, providing data, research, news, information, and analysis about the major trends, issues, and challenges facing our schools statewide. They will surface ideas, success stories, and statistics that will inspire us all to reconsider our assumptions about education. We hope to become your source of trusted information about education.

You may remember Mebane Rash for her research on mental health reform in North Carolina at the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.  She is the CEO of EdNC, and EdNC will be exploring the role of public schools in making sure our children have access to the mental health services they need to have access to a high-quality education.

EdNC has invited NAMI NC to contribute a monthly column.  The first one, which will run on Wednesday, February 4, is written by former executive director, Deby Dihoff, and it argues for the need for case management services. Click here to read the article.

You can also join the conversation by liking EdNC on Facebook and following EdNC on Twitter.

Please watch this video below to find out more about Education NC:

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