Encourage Mental Health Reform Legislation

NAMI South Bay asks that you call upon your Senators Boxer and Feinstein to co-sponsor The Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S 1945). And, ask your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor the The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR 2646).

With your voice added to thousands of others, we can bring national attention to the need for mental health reform.

Email, Call and Tweet your member of Congress.

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Advice and Resources for Caregivers

Caregivers face challenges of every type. Caregivers help persons with physical disabilities, aged persons, injured individuals, and persons struggling with a mental illness. Regardless of the cause, it is important, whether you have volunteered for the role, or it has been thrust upon you by circumstances unfortunate and unexpected, to learn how to deal with the issues that arise in a way that reduces stress and strengthens preparation and flexibility.

NAMI provides help for caregivers of persons with a mental illness. To get started with NAMI’s resources, START HERE..

Other resources are also available. Although NAMI South Bay can’t endorse or guarantee these other sources, they are available by various means, including the internet. Caregiver.com is one such resource. It includes articles, resources and advice for caregivers of all varieties, including caregivers dealing with the symptoms of psychosis. For instance,  Its advice article about dealing with psychotic symptoms associated with schizophrenia begins:

Try to encourage them gently, never forcefully, to be a part of social gatherings when appropriate. Keep gatherings small and intimate, with one or two relatives or friends over for dinner instead of an all-day affair with the entire clan, like a wedding or family picnic; this may cause frustration and stress, helping to set the stage for another episode. Always discuss your plans with them, and suggest going on an outing once a week, like a drive or a walk in the country; go somewhere peaceful and quite, not hectic and noisy like a city…

The rest of the article can be found HERE.

Caregivers.com is not associated with NAMI. Do your own diligence. NAMI South Bay shares this information because it has become aware of the resource, but is not in a position to recommend, endorse or guarantee services or outcomes. 

What is Mental Health Parity?

After years of NAMI advocates sending letters, making phone calls and visiting their members of Congress mental health parity is law. Now it’s time for you to make sure that the law is implemented and that you or your loved one get the treatment and supports you are entitled to. This infographic breaks down the basics of what mental health parity means, tells you if your plan has to follow this law, what plans have to do if they do have to comply and lets you know what you can do if the plan has to comply and doesn’t.

– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2015/What-Is-Mental-Health-Parity#sthash.wqxtTjvg.dpuf

Promoting Mental Health Awareness in School — Seeking Help

There is No Shame In Seeking Help

What does it mean to seek help?

Students are more likely to seek help from their friends than adults, if they seek help at all. When all of the students are black university student on campusaware of mental health resources available to them, they are also better prepared to help a friend or classmate who may confide in them.

High school students are prone to feeling like they can handle it all on their own, or if help is something that they would consider, they will not get it because of negative beliefs or comments by peers. This is one of the many ways we see evidence of stigma in schools.

Schools must explicitly have a “you can come to me” attitude in order to encourage students to seek help. If your school has a school mental health professional, students need to know who they are, likewise, teachers need to know who to refer their students to. Although it can be difficult to discuss issues with students, following proven strategies such listening non-judgmentally normalizing negative emotions and being compassionate, students can have an opportunity to openly seek help.

Showing Models of Mental Health

Students need to see that there is no shame to seek help by making it an ok thing to do.  By showing cultural icons who talk about their challenges and seek help, such as Brandon Marshall, Demi Lovato and Kendrick Lamar, we help young people embrace the idea that it is OK and expected to face mental health challenges.  By also having intentional time for mental health awareness, students will see the value being placed on this topic and the attitudes they have about stigma will be addressed.

From: Three Powerful Messages for Promoting Mental Health Awareness in Every School, NAMIBlog, April 10, 2015, by Hakeen Rahim. Hakeem Rahim, EdM, M.A. graduated from Harvard University and from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, start a consulting firm, and become NAMI Queens/Nassau’s Let’s Talk Mental Illness™ (LTMI) presenter, despite his struggles with bipolar disorder. Hakeem has also testified in front of Congress and featured in USA Today. Find out more about him at hakeemrahim.com.

– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2015/Three-Powerful-Messages-for-Promoting-Mental-Healt#sthash.ufdtqj8w.dpuf

Promoting Mental Health Awareness in School — Talking

It’s OK to Talk About Mental Illness

To Demystify Mental Health We Must Define It

Group of students in a hallwayThere are a lot of myths about mental illness. Due to stigma, or negative attitudes about a group, and lack of understanding of what mental illness is, both students and educators are being left in the dark. This lack of clarity can lead students to feel isolated, misunderstood and even destructive.

In order to say it’s OK to talk about mental illness we must first remind ourselves that mental illness can affect anyone, is not the result of character, personal defects, or poor upbringing and are treatable. When we can accurately point out, name and define mental illness we can have a common vocabulary to talk about it. By defining we demystify.

Showing its OK

Students need to actively see that it is OK to talk about mental health. 1 out of 5 adolescents are diagnosed with a mental illness any given year, but only 20% of those that need treatment will receive it. Moreover, children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods are much more vulnerable to mental health issues and less likely to have access to treatment.

School leadership in general can help students see that communicating their challenges is ok and is one of the ways to take care of yourself. Showing it’s OK can range from setting up lunchtime safe spaces, to running awareness programs, to ensuring safety protocols are in place. Regardless of the measure, students need to feel supported by the entire school community.

From: Three Powerful Messages for Promoting Mental Health Awareness in Every School, NAMIBlog, April 10, 2015, by Hakeen Rahim. Hakeem Rahim, EdM, M.A. graduated from Harvard University and from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, start a consulting firm, and become NAMI Queens/Nassau’s Let’s Talk Mental Illness™ (LTMI) presenter, despite his struggles with bipolar disorder. Hakeem has also testified in front of Congress and featured in USA Today. Find out more about him at hakeemrahim.com.

– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2015/Three-Powerful-Messages-for-Promoting-Mental-Healt#sthash.ufdtqj8w.dpuf

Parity in Mental Health “Don’t Take No For An Answer”

Historically, insurance companies and health care services plans have not provided equal coverage between physical health and mental health and substance abuse disorders. For people needing mental health treatment, there are fewer services, more restrictions on those services, and greater costs, both monetarily and for mental health wellness and recovery. Federal and state laws require insurance companies to provide mental health and substance use abuse benefits at the same level as physical health benefits. Few people are aware of these laws or how to advocate for equal coverage, and as a result do not get what they need.

Through funding from CalMHSA’s Stigma and Discrimination Reduction (SDR) Project, Disability Rights California trains on mental health parity laws and equips participants with tools and strategies to advocate for mental health and substance use abuse care. We can discuss individual mental health parity issues, provide counsel and advice, provide help filing complaints and in select cases raising systemic issues provide direct representation.

If you are interested in learning more about the project or want a training for your local NAMI chapter, please contact:

Robyn Gantsweg, CalMHSA SDR Project Coordinator and Senior Coordinator of Disability Rights California’s Peer/Self-Advocacy Program

  • Phone: (213) 213-8134
  • Email: robyn.gantsweg@disabilityrightsca.org

Laura Reich, lead Mental Health Parity Training Coordinator and Disability Rights California Attorney

  • Phone: (916) 504-5800
  • Email: laura.reich@disabilityrightsca.org

Disability Rights California is funded by a variety of sources, for a complete list of funders, go to this link.

The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Prevention and Early Intervention programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). Prop. 63 provides the funding and framework needed to expand mental health services to previously under-served populations and all of California’s diverse communities.

Students Are Invited to Submit their Films to Help Others and Win Prizes!

Students throughout California are invited to Direct Change by submitting 60-second films in two categories: “Suicide Prevention” and “Ending the Silence about Mental Illness”. The winning teams and their associated schools will win prizes, receive mental health or suicide prevention programs for their schools, get to participate in a meeting with state legislators on these topics, and attend the award ceremony at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Visit the campaign website for contest rules and information: www.directingchange.org .

Submission Deadlines: February 1, 2015.

Want to stay updated with all things Directing Change?  Subscribe to The Advocate: Directing Change Newsletter! The Newsletter features updates about Directing Change and monthly educational films about topics on mental health and suicide prevention.

DVDs of the 2014 finalists and promotional flyers are available upon request.  Please contact Lauren Hee at lauren@namica.org or 916-567-0163.