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NAMI Advocate e-newsletter, August 2005

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Dear Friend of NAMI,
Thanks for staying connected. NAMI offers several programs and resources to help students and families cope with back-to-school issues. In this edition of the NAMI Advocate e-newsletter , we highlight some of these resources as well as a recent study on schizophrenia and profiles of two award-winning anti-stigma advocates.

NAMI on Campus

Jim Monti, a college senior at the University of Illinois, who interned in the NAMI national offices this summer, shares his first-hand experience with the NAMI on Campus program.

For all of my life, August has meant one thing: back to school. I must say returning to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for my senior year is more exciting and fun than returning to second grade, but I'm a little bummed that I don't get to buy the box of 96 crayons with the sharpener in the back.

The first week of a college semester presents a fresh start and an entire world of opportunity for students. However, for many students, mental illness can take away those opportunities and severely affect someone who is in the prime of his or her life.

Mental health should be the primary health concern on college campuses. Most students are physically healthy, but mental illness affects 25% of students at any given time. However, the mental health services on campuses are typically inadequately equipped to handle the influx of students requiring services. There are usually long waits to see psychiatrists, and the funding for the programs is often times too low.

This has been the case at UIUC, as it is at many campuses across the country. In November of 2004, a friend and I took the route that many students across the country are taking: we looked into the NAMI on Campus program in order to bolster and work in conjunction with the existing mental health services. NAMI on Campus affiliates play instrumental roles when it comes to improving mental health awareness and support on campuses. At NAMI-UIUC, we take a two-pronged approach when it comes to mental health on campus -- advocacy and support.

Raising awareness and increasing education about mental health is crucial on campuses. On the UIUC campus, we have held many events and thought of numerous ways to accomplish these tasks. For instance, we sold the ever-so-popular wristbands with a silver color and the word "hope" embossed on them in a successful effort to raise awareness of the issue. We also brought in speakers to educate and discuss mental health topics that are relevant to the students. The goal of these efforts is to make the campus community aware of these difficult-to-recognize issues in order to better fund and support the existing services on campuses. Read More...

Back-To-School Strategies for Parents of Children Living with Mental Illness


For children living with mental illness, going back to school is loaded with potential obstacles and stressors including changing routines, scholastic and social expectations, separation, and excitement.

The start of the school year often triggers anxiety for parents of children with mental illnesses. New teachers and environments often mean new challenges, but they can also signal new opportunities for success.

The following are some suggested strategies to consider and adapt to help build a foundation for a successful school year for the child living with mental illness. Read more...

China Famine Study Links Schizophrenia to Malnutrition

JAMA logo

A study of a famine in China more than 40 years ago, published in the August 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), has found that children born to severely malnourished women are more likely to develop schizophrenia.

The research strengthens evidence that environmental factors may trigger genetic predisposition to schizophrenia. Children born in southeast China during a 1959-1961 famine were twice as likely to develop the illness than those before or after those years. Read more…

NAMI Members Honored As Voices Against Stigma

Voice Award logo The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has honored NAMI members Beth Ann Russell of North Carolina and Bruce Black of Texas, with "Voice Awards" for their role in the Elimination of Barriers Initiative (EBI) sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Russell, a 24-year old student living with schizophrenia, has shared her story at numerous NAMI meetings and special events, as well as with hundreds of students at Sandhills Community College in Moore County, NC. She also helped educate hundreds of teachers and school personnel about what it was like to attend high school with a mental illness. Read more...

NAMI Book Shelf
This Issue:
Divided Minds
Will's Choice

Divided Minds

Divided Minds

Traditionally, twin studies have been important statistically for understanding genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, but a new book, authored by twins, provides a unique exposition of the illness.

Divided Minds: Twins Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia is a memoir by Pamela Spiro Wagner, now in her 50s, who began hearing voices in 6th grade. Her chapters alternate with ones by her sister, Carolyn Spiro, M.D., a psychiatrist, who even with her medical training, did not recognize her sister's illness for years. Neither did their father, a professor at Yale Medical School. Read more…

Will's Choice

Will's ChoiceThe decision by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to issue a so-called black-box warning concerning the use of antidepressants for adolescents has left many families attempting to deal with the mental illness of a child with even more uncertainty about possible lifesaving treatment options.

Gail Griffith's book, Will's Choice: A Suicidal Teen, a Desperate Mother, and a Chronicle of Recovery, provides a stunning portrait of a family struggling to deal with a son's suicide attempt and battle with major depressive disorder. Part memoir, part social commentary, part resource guide, Griffith's book addresses the multitude of issues -- emotional, financial, medical, bureaucratic -- families face in the aftermath of a suicide attempt. Read more…


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