During the first full week of October, NAMI and participants across the country are bringing awareness to mental illness. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Each year, the movement grows stronger.

We believe that these issues are important to address year round, but highlighting these issues during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a time for people to come together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve the lives of the tens of millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

The theme of MIAW this year is #IAmStigmaFree. Use this hashtag on your posts during the week. You can also take the pledge to be stigma free!

Click here to learn more about MIAW and how you can get involved.

If you or someone you know may need a mental health assessment, anonymous online tools are available.  Learn more and help yourself or someone you care about.

NAMI North Carolina has been selected as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Outreach Partner for 2015 for the state of North Carolina. NAMI NC joins a nationwide network of 55 mental health organizations committed to disseminating science-based information from NIMH about the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders, and educating the public about the importance of research and the opportunities to participate in studies.

For over a decade, NIMH has supported organizations from every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico through the Outreach Partnership Program to increase the public’s awareness about the importance of mental health to overall health as well as the recognition that mental disorders are brain-based disorders, and that research is the way forward to understanding how best to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure mental illness.

The National Institute of Mental Health is one of 27 components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Federal government’s principal biomedical and behavioral research agency. NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

North Carolina has made great strides to curb tobacco addiction, but one out of every five North Carolinians is still smoking. According to new data from Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the number of smokers nationwide has fallen to 15 percent, yet in North Carolina, it is more than 20 percent. We still have work to do.

That’s why we are joining together with more than 50 other organizations – including leading patient groups, health care delivery systems, nonprofits, and state and local agencies – to launch “Race to Quit, NC.”

This groundbreaking campaign represents the first time that the state’s leading health care advocates have come together to offer North Carolinians help they need to win their battles with smoking and tobacco use. We know the vast majority of tobacco users know of these dangers and have tried unsuccessfully to quit, but they might not be aware of the support that exists to help them in the fight.

During the Race to Quit, NC launch week October 5-9, campaign partners will hold events to raise awareness of the campaign and to promote the campaign website. The site, which has launched but is still being fully developed, will feature educational materials and comprehensive resources to help tobacco users quit. You can also follow the campaign on social media via the hashtag #RacetoQuitNC.

Together, we can help North Carolinians break the cycle of tobacco use and cross the finish line to a tobacco-free life.

Well-known author and mental-health advocate Pete Earley will be the featured speaker at the Center’s second annual No Limits Gala fundraiser, November 12, 2015, at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

The event is set for 6:30–9:00 p.m. The evening begins with a reception, followed by dinner and Pete Earley discussing his book “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness,” which chronicles his experience as a father seeking answers and care for his son who was diagnosed with bipolar mental illness. Crazy was a 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Additionally, three family members from the Foundation of Hope (Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness) will receive the Center’s Community Mental Health Advocacy Awards for their contributions toward improving mental health. Shelley Eure Belk and Van Eure, along with Van’s  husband, Steve Thanhauser, will be recognized at the Gala. The Foundation of Hope for Research and Treatment of Mental Illness was founded by Thad Eure, Jr., in 1984 to support research to find cures for mental illness.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit Center programs that serve individuals with serious mental illness.

For additional information, contact Ed Binanay at ebinanay@med.unc.edu or register for the  Gala at https://giving.dev.unc.edu/events/2015/nolimitsgala.

In celebration of Mental Illness Awareness Week, the Sandhills Special Events Partnership proudly presents and evening with Kevin Hines: “Living Mentally Well.”

Hines is an international speaker, author, suicide awareness and mental health advocate. A book signing will follow.

Saturday October 10, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.
Lee Auditorium at Pinecrest High School
250 Voit Gilmore Lane
Southern Pines, NC 28387

Event is free and open to the public.

For more information contact NAMI Moore County at namimoorecounty@gmail.com or 910-295-1053 or visit nami-moorecounty.com.

RALEIGH, NC (August 31, 2015) – Jack Register, MSW, Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness North Carolina (NAMI North Carolina), was appointed by Governor Pat McCrory to serve on the North Carolina Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use. The Task Force was formed by an executive order on July 14, 2015, and NAMI North Carolina was invited to attend the executive order signing ceremony.

The Task Force will be made up of 24 members, including representatives from each of the three branches of government: executive, judicial and legislative branches of government and key stakeholders to make recommendations that will improve the lives of citizens with mental illness and substance use disorders. There are also 11 member slots available for public members, including those from the healthcare provider community, county leadership, government and non-government entities, and private sector employers. Register was appointed to one of these member slots.

“NAMI North Carolina is grateful to be a part of such an important Task Force,” said Mike Mayer, PhD, President of the NAMI North Carolina Board of Directors. “We are thankful to the Governor for including us and for making mental health such a large priority. NAMI North Carolina is committed to continuing to be the voice for those affected by mental illness and their families.”

The Task Force will submit findings and strategic recommendations to the Governor for improving the lives of North Carolina children and adults with mental illness and substance use disorders and their families.

NAMI North Carolina provides 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 30 local affiliates across North Carolina, who join together to meet the NAMI mission. For more information on programs, our advocacy efforts and the 30 affiliate organizations in North Carolina, visit our website at naminc.org.

NAMI North Carolina’s executive director, Jack Register, and interim chair of the NAMI NC Consumer Council, Lucy Wilmer, were featured in this article by reporter Billy Ball in the Indy Week’s August 26, 2015 edition.

“This is how Lucy Wilmer wants to remember Bill: the tousled brown hair, the wry grin, the sense that, before he even finishes this joke, he has two more waiting.

“People tell me the world’s worse off because Bill is gone,” Wilmer says. “It sounds like a platitude, but it isn’t. He was just super funny and outgoing, one of the friendliest, quirkiest, most interesting human beings.”

Bill, her 38-year-old boyfriend, killed himself in 2008 in Beaufort County, four years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Like many with that condition, Bill suffered crippling mood swings.

“When he was in a manic state, he didn’t feel the need to take any medicine,” Wilmer says. “He was going to start 17 businesses. But when the depression started, it was very difficult to get him to do anything, to take his medicine, to go to his doctor’s appointments.”

It was a struggle until the day he killed himself. But earlier treatment may have made the difference, says Wilmer, now the chairwoman of the consumer council for the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an advisory panel of volunteers who have experienced the ramifications of mental illness. And North Carolina’s reformed public mental health system, which is a little more than a decade old, can offer the kind of creative outreach needed for people like Bill, many of whom begin to show symptoms in their 20s.

That’s why the architects of the state’s push for regional, public mental health authorities say North Carolina’s experiment, which has come under legislative attack, must be preserved. The system, designed to simplify, economize and improve the state’s confusing network of providers, relies on nine regional groups called local management entities, or LMEs, “one-stop shops” charged with dispensing Medicaid dollars for mental health treatment.”

Click here to read the full article.

Lawmakers in Raleigh are trying to come to a decision about the state budget. The House and Senate could not be further apart about how to support our publically funded mental health system. Right now, the divide over the budget is so great that we are in the second continuing resolution. Part of the wedge in these discussions is the fate of Medicaid.

Numerous perspectives and possible plans have been put forward as to what will happen. While the negotiations continue in the halls of the legislature, the public system for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services (MHIDDSAS) system of local management entities/managed care organizations (LME-MCO) continues to function.

The system was designed to provide high quality care at a predictable cost. While the LME-MCO system has achieved budget predictability and is not responsible for the Medicaid cost overruns you have read about in the media, the LME-MCO system is just beginning to tap into new, innovative services that will improve care and outcomes for people living with mental illness.

When lawmakers created the LME-MCO system, the intent was that all “savings” accrued by the LME-MCO system were to be invested into creating and broadening innovative services. The Senate budget proposes cutting state funding to the LME-MCO system by millions, forcing the system to use their current fund balances to fund the status quo, instead of creating new services.

More worrisome, these innovative services could have given hope to those who haven’t found recovery and are cycling in and out of our emergency rooms. Legislators are looking for a solution to the ever growing problem of people with serious mental illness presenting at local emergency departments. The LME-MCO system may have the answer to this problem, but we will never know if the Senate budget passes.

The family of Michael Anthony Kerr may have won a settlement to the tune of 2.5 million dollars from the Department of Public Safety (DPS), but they lost far more than they gained. NAMI NC remains outraged by the death and treatment of Mr. Kerr, who remained in segregation for more than a month prior to his death. It is not effective to use solitary confinement with people experiencing mental illness. Suicides occur more often, symptoms become more pronounced, and decompensation requiring crisis care to hospitalization. Plus, there are numerous reports that prison personnel believed Mr. Kerr was malingering his symptoms. Imagine being told you were faking your medical condition. What a truly devastating approach for Mr. Kerr and his family.

We are pleased with the dedication from the Department of Public Safety to make mental health care a priority. From Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for prison personnel to participation in the VERA grant program to find alternatives to solitary confinement, we remain hopeful that another situation like Mr. Kerr’s can be prevented. DPS has committed to expanding mental health treatment in the prison system. However, the Department of Public Safety needs the support of our lawmakers to fund these initiatives.

NAMI NC is excited to announce an advocacy training collaborative program for affiliates. This program is designed for those affiliates who are looking to take their advocacy skills and initiatives to the next level. This training will not only provide valuable skills to help be a better advocate for mental health issues, but it will also help with growing and sustaining a strong advocacy network within local affiliates and the community. Each affiliate will identify a team of 3 people to participate in the collaborative. The team will be responsible for advocacy efforts in their affiliate along with serving as the primary points of contact with the state office and their affiliate membership. Team members will have the opportunity to participate in special events hosted by NAMI NC, including the opportunity to be trained as a NAMI Smarts for Advocacy Instructor and exclusive advocacy day at the General Assembly.

Affiliates who would like to apply will fill out an application. Applications will be accepted until August 28, 2015. Click here to learn more about the Collaborative and how your affiliate can apply. Please contact Nicholle Karim at nkarim@naminc.org for inquiries or to request an application.

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