NAMI North Carolina is incredibly honored to have been recognized by Representative George Holding of U.S. House of Representatives (13th District–Wake Forest, Nashville, Willow Spring) during his speech on the House floor. He talked about Mental Health Awareness Month and the importance of mental health care during his house speech. Thank you, Rep Holding!

NAMI NC executive director Jack Register was interviewed on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Now program about the Mental Health Crisis in North Carolina. The three-part series examines some possible solutions to some of the common obstacles people with mental illnesses face on their road to recovery. View the segment here.

NAMI North Carolina was invited by the Department of Health and Human Services to participate in the ceremony of the initial signing over of the Dorthea Dix property to the City of Raleigh. Attendance included DHHS administration, Governor McCrory’s cabinet and the Governor, City of Raleigh staff and Mayor McFarlane, many other advocacy organizations, as well as other interested parties. This event was the second step in the process to officially deed the property over to the city. This event was one was a celebration and looking to the future as this property will serve as a destination park for the city. We, however, have and will continue to publically grieve this loss and we need the leaders of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Governor to know that this loss is one we do not take lightly.

To us, the land was a public commitment by both the state and federal government to ensure services for those living with mental illness were available. We are an organization of families, consumers, and advocates who struggle daily with the consequences of psychiatric disorders and diseases. We are the community who came to Dix in the past for care and to find hope. Many who are familiar with the work of NAMI NC know that the loss of the Dix property was quite devastating to our community.

Our ask is two-fold:

  1. First, we seek a public ceremony to honor the legacy of Dorthea Dix as well as the many lives that have been directly affected by mental illness in our state.
  2. Second, we seek assurance from both the state and the City of Raleigh that there will be protections for the cemetery as well a memorial erected on the property.

We acknowledge the guarantee made by the Governor and DHHS to honor the legacy of Dorothea Dix. NAMI NC’s commitment is to monitor and hold the Governor and DHHS to their publically stated commitment to ensure the proceeds will go to the Mental Health Trust Fund and that those funds will be used for mental health services.

NAMI NC is asking all to take the StigmaFree Pledge

RALEIGH, NC (May 6, 2015) – May is Mental Health Awareness Month and is an opportunity to learn both about mental health as part of overall health and the need to be alert to symptoms of mental illness. Unfortunately, stigma, access to care and other issues can be barriers to treatment.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness North Carolina (NAMI NC) wants everyone to know that one in five adults experience mental health problems every year, which can contribute to the onset of serious medical conditions such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

“During Mental Health Awareness Month, everyone should take the time to learn symptoms of mental illness and make changes to eliminate stigma,” said Jack Register, MSW, Executive Director of NAMI NC “Early identification and treatment makes a big difference in successful management of the illness and a quicker recovery.”

Stigma remains a barrier to care and it can make one’s mental health condition worse in the long run. Stigma reduces mental health consumers’ access to resources and opportunities and leads to low self-esteem, isolation and hopelessness.

Research shows that by ignoring the symptoms of mental health conditions, we lose ten years in which we could intervene in order to change people’s lives for the better. During most of these years most people still have supports that allow them to succeed—home, family, friends, school and work. Intervening effectively during early stages of mental illness can save lives and change the trajectories of people living with mental illnesses.

Each illness has its own set of symptoms but some common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (“lack of insight” or anosognosia)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)

“NAMI hopes everyone will take steps to recognize the signs of mental illness and pledge to be stigma free” said Register. “It is a time to end the silence and stigma surrounding mental illness that too often discourages people from getting help when they need it.”

NAMI’s StigmaFree campaign urges individuals, companies, organizations and campuses to create an American culture in which the stigma that is often associated with mental health conditions is ended and replaced by hope and support for recovery. To take the NAMI StigmaFree pledge, visit nami.org/stigmafree.

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 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.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness North Carolina (NAMI NC) held its eleventh annual NAMIWalks on Saturday, May 2 at Dorothea Dix Campus in Raleigh. NAMIWalks is a 2.3 mile walk to raise awareness and support for North Carolinians living with mental illness. Proceeds from the walk will be used for critical mental health programs, education, support and advocacy.

This year’s NAMIWalks brought together over 1,400 mental health consumers, family members and friends, volunteers, mental health professionals, and private and corporate sponsors from across the state. The walk, which began at 10 a.m., included family fun, featuring bounce houses, prizes, corn hole, refreshments, music, and more.

“One in five Americans are affected by mental illness and one in 20 adults experience a serious mental illness in a given year. We know that mental illness can substantially interfere with or limit day-to-day life,” said Jack Register, MSW, Executive Director of NAMI NC.

“NAMIWalks brings the community together to raise awareness that recovery is possible and treatments work, and to raise support for vital services. It is time to focus on the need for an improved mental health system, which recognizes signs of mental illness and provides quick access to services.”

NAMIWalks fundraising efforts will continue until June 22—it’s not too late to raise money for this important cause. To donate, visit namiwalks.org/northcarolina. For more information visit namiwalks.org/northcarolina, or call 919-788-0801 or email Robin Kellogg at rkellogg@naminc.org.

Thank you to Governor Pat McCrory, the Mayor of Chapel Hill, Mark Kleinschmidt, the Mayor of Hillsborough, Tom Stevens, the Mayor of Raleigh, Nancy McFarlane, and the Mayor of Winston-Salem, Allen Joines, for issuing proclamations recognizing May as National Mental Health Awareness Month!

You can read the North Carolina proclamation here.

You can read the Chapel Hill proclamation here.

You can read the Hillsborough proclamation here.

You can read the Raleigh proclamation here.

You can read the Winston-Salem proclamation here.

To find out more about activities going on this month, click here.

NAMI NC executive director, Jack Register, was invited to speak with Caroline Blair at TWC News 14 Carolina to talk about NAMIWalks and important issues facing our community.

Click here to view the video.

By Lisa Grele Barrie, the president and CEO of NC Theatre.

Experiencing the Broadway production of “Next to Normal” in 2009, starring Alice Ripley, was one of those memorable theater moments that left an indelible mark on my soul. It reinforced the “role of theatre” as described by Arthur Miller, to “grab you and shake you by the back of your neck!” Collaborators Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s desire to combat the stigma of mental illness through a story about how a family copes with a mental health crisis and what it means to be “normal” are more relevant than ever before, and NC Theatre is excited to share this important story with our patrons.

The data is compelling: one in four in the US have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. From mild depression and anxiety, to more severe manifestations including bipolar and schizophrenia, it is highly likely that every single member of our audience and community have been impacted in some way. It’s the safe vessel of theater that can help neutralize a topic that some consider shameful or associated with stigma. As we process the story after the lights go down, we have the opportunity to build reservoirs of empathy and develop a greater appreciation of our shared humanity. And that’s what we hope will take place after each and every performance, and especially after the post-show conversations we’ll be hosting after the matinee performances on Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3. Come process your experience with us!

I’ve been inspired by some of the random, yet compelling conversations that I’ve experienced when discussing “Next to Normal” in the community. When offered a safe space, I bear witness to stories of suicide, bipolar and schizophrenia, and I share my own. And after each encounter, I feel more fully alive and grateful for the honesty and depth of these interactions. It is my hope that this show will spark some of those conversations with our audience; that it may forge new community connections and create opportunities to heal old wounds and perhaps prevent new ones from developing.

I’m especially proud that NC Theatre is undertaking this important work in the sensitive, skillful hands of our artistic director, Casey Hushion. Our all-star cast starring Raleigh favorites Lauren Kennedy and English Bernhardt, alongside Charlie Pollock, Mike Schwitter, Charlie Brady and Ben Fankahuser will no doubt rival the Broadway cast and leave a lasting impression on our audiences. As a complement to this production, a teen ensemble from the NCT Conservatory has created a piece about teen depression that will give light to this urgent issue facing today’s youth. As the mother of two post-adolescent sons, this issue hits close to my heart.

We are excited to produce this show during National Mental Health Awareness Month to amplify a meaningful community conversation about and around mental health, in partnership with many dynamic mental health organizations in this community including Foundation of HopeNAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) Wake County and North Carolina,Triangle Family ServicesAlliance Behavioral Healthcare and more. All of these agencies provide a range of free resources for people living with a mental illness from support groups to counseling services for individuals or families. They provide education, advocacy and the extra support families in crisis often seek.

Please join us for this emotionally charged, feel-everything musical at NC Theatre!

“Next to Normal”
May 1-10, 2015
A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater
Tickets start at $29.20
Produced by North Carolina Theatre

Medicaid reform has been the hot topic during this long session, and for good reason. It is time for North Carolina to move to an integrated care model that is whole person focused, fiscally responsible, accountable for quality outcomes, and most importantly, accountable for quality care. There have been numerous bills filed, and some proposals would change the delivery model for mental health services in our state. Health care reform is not a new idea for people with a mental illness in NC. Just look at the closure of hospital beds, the impending sale of Dorothea Dix, and the creation (and continued merging) of Local Management Entities-Managed Care Organizations (LME-MCOs.)  To put it simply, people with mental illness have been subject to the throes and whims of “reform.”

What has reform given us? Less psychiatric hospital beds (which has us in a severe shortage per national reports), more use of our ERs, and a complex system for getting into the right type of care at the right time in the right setting.  What are the consequences when just one factor is absent? Instead of sitting in front of a psychiatrist or therapist, people are waiting days in the ER, under bridges, or housed in jail or prison. We are just now starting to see the dust settle with the LME-MCOs and some sense of predictability and stability.

Do we think the LME-MCO system is perfect? Absolutely not. Do we think the LME-MCO system has demonstrated success managing the care of people with mental illness? Yes. Through capitation, the LME-MCO has given the General Assembly predictability in costs.  People with mental illness in NC have been treated as guinea pigs. Now that we have settled on a model, let’s give it time to mature and build on the strengths and “lessons learned” from the LME-MCO system and move forward with meaningful integration.

Signed,
Jack Register, MSW, Executive Director & Registered Lobbyist
Nicholle Karim, LCSW, Public Policy Coordinator & Registered Lobbyist
NAMI North Carolina

The NAMIWalks planning committee geared up for NAMIWalks by visiting the walk site at Dorothea Dix in Raleigh to fine tune the walk day details and make this the best year yet! And we even walked the entire route and tried our hand at sign flipping. We’re not quitting our day jobs yet!

NAMIWalks is proud to be 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!

Use hashtag #namiwalksnc when sharing the video. Click here for more information about NAMIWalks on May 2!

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