National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Collaborative Training on Telling Your Story and Sharing Cultural Perspective

Recovery for All
December 2010

Multicultural Action Center Highlights of 2010

A compelling story is valuable in many ways. It can raise awareness and change minds. A story of lived experience with mental illness can encourage people to seek information and support. It is one of NAMI’s most effective tools in creating community awareness of mental illness, dissolving stigma and ultimately impacting America’s mental health system. But how a story is delivered can be almost as important as the story itself.

The Multicultural Action Center teamed up with NAMI’s state policy department to develop Telling Your Story: Sharing Our Perspectives, a webinar-based training held in November. The key objective of the training was to support mental health advocates whose lives are enriched with cultural perspectives in composing an effective personal testimony that highlights cultural competence implications for mental health recovery.

Lead trainer, Angela Kimball, director of NAMI state policy, provided an overview of why telling your story is important and provided some key tips for an effective story. Jimi Kelley, Native American outreach coordinator for NAMI Tennessee, shared his own story as an example. Participants examined what made the example story work in terms of six key components: introduction, what happened, what helped, how I am different today, my “point” and my “ask.”

Jimi’s point and ask: “Some of us may have a diagnosis or have a family member with a diagnosis. It can be very challenging, but the Creator does everything for a reason. Every one of us has something to offer; we just need a chance. You can help by showing understanding and by respecting the role of a person's cultural traditions and spirituality in their recovery.”

Participants utilized a practice sheet divided into the six story components to draft their own stories and in just 90 minutes, many were able to create their own exemplary story. 

The Multicultural Action Center looks forward to continuing our collaborative trainings with NAMI’s policy team in 2011 and hopes that Telling Your Story is the first of a series of great training opportunities to come for mental health advocates.