National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Sharon Roth has been nominated by NAMI California. View the nomination letter from NAMI California. (pdf, opens in new window)
Each board candidate was asked to answer several questions relating to NAMI and the experience they bring to the board. Each candidate was limited to 300 words for each answer. Read Sharon's answers below:
Why do I want to serve on the NAMI National Board of directors?
For the past 20 years, since my youngest child was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, NAMI has been an important part of my life. As an advocate, instructor, facilitator, and resource person for consumers and family members to help ease the burden of those affected by mental illness, I feel the time has come to broaden my perspective and participation.
What financial management or fund raising expertise would you bring to the Board?
I was able to obtain grants to support both Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs which, I am very involved in, as a NAMI representative.
I supported both financially and with hard work to bring Prop 63 (Mental Health Services Act) to the ballot and then to get it passed. With the success of the Mental Health Services Act, Ralph Nelson, Darlene Prettyman and I have traveled around the state informing stakeholders of the planning process and the importance of family and consumer involvement in all phases of and the implementation of the act.
I participated in the NAMI Walk in the LA area and am currently involved in the planning of the Bay Area NAMI Walk. These have proven to be very successful and I look forward to the involvement and the experience as a Team Captain.
What is the most pressing public policy issue facing NAMI members today?
I am a member in good standing of two NAMI Affiliates and take an active part in both of them and NAMI California as well. I serve on the Executive Committee of the NAMI California Board of Directors in the capacity of Secretary.
After writing to, and speaking with, Major Sam Cochran in Memphis I was very instrumental in bringing CIT to the State of California. As the NAMI California Criminal Justice Committee Chairperson, I continue to try to bring this program to every county in the state. I am also a strong advocate for Mental Health Courts and emphasize the importance of a strong collaboration between mental health, law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
As President of NAMI Santa Clara County, I worked diligently to form a partnership between NAMI, the County Mental Health Department, and the San Jose Police Department to start the first CIT program in California. I continue my relationship with all these entities and as we prepare for Academy XVI, I maintain my membership in this affiliate. We have been successful in teaching many other cities and counties in California how to start CIT in their own geographical area. As the Criminal Justice Chair and a member of the Advocacy Committee of NAMI San Mateo County, I am assisting with developing curricula to start a CIT Academy in San Mateo County in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Department, San Mateo County Mental Health, and Argosy University.
What brought you to NAMI -- and what is most valuable to you about your participation in the NAMI movement?
The need for support and education about mental illness is what brought me to NAMI. After my son’s numerous suicide attempts and his involvement with law enforcement, I realized that stigma and embarrassment was the main barrier to his asking for and receiving treatment.
I have worked on the NAMI National Campaign to End Discrimination, making public appearances, disseminating information through posters, film clips, and brochures to help break the stigma of mental illness. It has been my pleasure to be an instructor for Family-to-Family classes and for many years have been a support group facilitator.
I wrote my Masters thesis on “" Program to Reduce Frustration and Anxiety of Nurses Caring for the Cardiac Patient with a Mental Illness". I co-authored a chapter in the textbook "Psychosocial Occupational Therapy" which is in its second edition. I serve as an Adjunct Clinical Instructor at San Jose State University, where I teach mental health professionals and address the sensitive issues of working with persons with mental illnesses.
I have been privileged to be a presenter at workshops at NAMI National conventions and to leadership conferences for NAMI National, NAMI California and CIMH (California Institute for Mental Health). I have been honored as the invited speaker and/or instructor to numerous civic, church, criminal justice and professional groups.
While serving on the Santa Clara County Mental Health Board/Commission, I received the 1999 Outstanding Volunteer Award from the City of San Jose and the Human Services Commission of the City of San Jose. In 2000, I received the Human Relations Special Merit award from the California State Assembly. There have been other awards; however, most rewarding to me is my work with NAMI.
What is the most pressing internal or organizational issue facing NAMI today? What course of action do you suggest?
As an advocate for those affected by mental illness another injustice I see occurring is the fact that no Medi-Caid reimbursement is allowed in a facility in which more than 50% of the residents has a diagnosis of a mental illness. This is outright discrimination! My feeling is that NAMI should take this on as a stigma breaking cause. I hope that my election to the Board of this fine organization will give me a chance to work toward this end.