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2009 NAMI Convention: Multicultural Action Center Events

The NAMI 2009 Convention took place July 6-9 at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel. This convention was a celebration of both NAMI’s 30th anniversary and the first anniversary of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

For photos and day-to-day reports from the 2009 Convention, see

The Multicultural Action Center was delighted to see familiar faces, make new friends, have great discussions with our participants, and provide everyone with an array of multicultural mental health information.  We were very pleased with the attendance and active participation in our sessions focusing on diversity and inclusion, as well as Spanish-language programming. 

Below are the descriptions of workshops and sessions hosted by the NAMI Multicultural Action Center, focusing on current research and initiatives addressing the needs and interests of NAMI's diverse grassroots:

NAMI Leadership Institute, Monday, July 6

GLBT Mental Health Seminar

This special 3-hour seminar focused on a wealth of information regarding GLBT mental health including a presentation about The Family Acceptance Project by project leader, Caitlin Ryan, PhD, an overview of GLBT behavioral health issues by Dr. Robert Cabaj  and reflections on recovery and community integration issues by Stephen Kiosk, Director of the STAR Center


  • Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW, Director, Adolescent Health Initiatives, César E. Chávez Institute, College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University
  • Stephen Kiosk, Director, NAMI STAR Center
  • Robert Paul Cabaj, MD, Director, San Francisco City and County Community Behavioral Health Services and Past President, Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists

Moderator: Marin Swesey, Coordinator, Multicultural Action Center, NAMI National

PowerPoint presentation:

Click here to access the powerpoint presentation by Dr. Robert Cabaj, providing an overview of GLBT behavioral health issues.


Tuesday, July 7

Town Hall Meeting: Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Month

In May 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in order to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.  This Town Hall Meeting highlighted minority mental health issues and included a discussion on how NAMI advocates can foster awareness and advocacy. This Meeting brought together NAMI multicultural leaders and other interested convention attendees who worked together to review and celebrate progress made to date and discussed future plans and areas in need of attention and action.  


  • Nancy Carter, Executive Director, NAMI Urban Los Angeles, and Member, NAMI National Board of Directors
  • Majose Carrasco, M.P.A., Director, Multicultural Action Center, NAMI National


Wednesday, July 8

Open Dialogue: Review and Discussion of the Proceedings Document of NAMI’s American Indian and Alaska Native Listening Session

Moderator: Marin Swesey, Coordinator, Multicultural Action Center, NAMI National

PowerPoint presentation:

Click here to access the presentation utilized during this session to provide an overview of the report and generate discussion.

Evidence Based Practices: Balancing Fidelity and Adaptation Needs in Multicultural Mental Health

One of the challenges we face in providing quality treatment and programs is how to effectively balance program fidelity and adaptation. Fidelity is essential to guarantee our program is effective and we may fear that changes to the program may affect its effectiveness.  At the same time, we must recognize that one size does not fit all and that there may be some instances where adaptation is needed to have a better impact. This symposium explored fidelity and adaptation issues in multicultural mental health and highlighted successful cultural adaptations to existing evidence based practices.


  • Rachel Guerrero, LCSW, Chief, Office of Multicultural Services, State Department of Mental Health, Sacramento
  • Rick Ybarra, MA, Program Officer, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

PowerPoint presentation:

Click here to access the presentation of two nationally recognized experts in cultural competence and multicultural mental health.


Thursday, July 9

Sharing Hope: Understanding Mental Health -- A NAMI Outreach Program for African American Congregations

This session highlighted the importance of mental health awareness and support in African American faith communities and provided information on NAMI’s Sharing Hope: Understanding Mental Health outreach and education toolkit initiative. Speakers shared their experiences as hosts of the initiative’s pilot sites as well as information and tips on how to implement Sharing Hope.


  • Matthea Little Smith, Director, African American Outreach, NAMI Minnesota
  • Sally Osmer, Executive Director, NAMI Mercer (NJ)

Moderator: Majose Carrasco, M.P.A., Director, Multicultural Action Center, NAMI National

PowerPoint presentation:

Click here for the Sharing Hope program overview presentation.