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NAMI Advocate e-newsletter, June 2005

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Howdy y'all!
Austin, Texas was the place to be during the third week of June as the NAMI family gathered for its annual convention. This month's NAMI Advocate e-newsletter covers the convention, a new NIMH study on the prevalence of mental illness and much more.

NAMI Convention 2005: On the Frontier of Recovery

NAMI members, friends and staff descended on Austin, Texas, June 18-21, for the 2005 NAMI Convention. The convention, with a theme of Transforming the Mental Health System in America, featured three days of workshops, seminars, program tracks, receptions and exhibits. Attendees came from around the country and the world to network, learn, gather materials and energize themselves.

The opening day of convention featured an Asian American and Pacific Islander Seminar. Consumers, advocates and providers gathered to examine the issues facing minority populations dealing with mental illness. Read more…

Day two was marked by three evening seminars that included "Cognitive Neuroscience and Recovery," "A Reading by Bebe Moore Campbell" and "The Insanity Defense: Is It Time for a New Model." The latter featured George Parnham, attorney for Andrea Yates, and David Kaczynski, brother of "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski. Read more...

Workshops, program tracks and seminars provided attendees with a bevy of options. Among the workshops offered, "Understanding PTSD: From the Traumas of Combat, Rape, and Abuse Come Knowledge" explained the disorder for laypersons through first-person accounts. Jerry LaFountain, purple heart recipient, and Eileen White, national board member recounted personal experiences that led to their post-traumatic stress disorder - an anxiety disorder that is triggered by a traumatic event.

The Research Plenary, "Research and Treatment for Depression Across the Lifespan" brought together respected researchers in the field of mental health. Dr. Thomas Insel, medical director, National Institute of Mental Health, moderated the session, providing an overview of the state of mental health research today as well as some sobering facts and figures. Attendees learned that mental illnesses account for one-fourth of all medical disabilities in the U.S. and Canada for persons 15 to 44 years old; and that in a given year, there are 30,000 suicides in comparison to 18,000 homicides with 90% of all suicides involving a person with a mental disorder. Dr. Insel also outlined a vision for mental health care in the future.

The 2005 NAMI Convention ended with a bang at the NAMI Fiesta! held at the Alumni Center at the University of Texas. Convention goers left energized and looking forward to the 2006 NAMI Convention in Washington, DC.

More Web coverage and photos from the 2005 Convention.

Best-Selling Author Explores Mental Illness in Her New Novel

Bebe Moore Campbell

Best-selling author Bebe Moore Campbell read from her new book, 72 Hour Hold, at the 2005 NAMI Convention in Austin, Texas on Monday, June 20. The book, dedicated in part to her Los Angeles-area affiliate, NAMI-Inglewood, tells the story of Keri and her daughter, Trina, who has bipolar disorder. Keri struggles to come to terms with her daughter's mental illness and find treatment and support for herself and her daughter while navigating the mental-health system.

Ms. Campbell, a co-founder of her NAMI affiliate, a Family-to-Family trainer and 2003 NAMI award winner, relates in the July issue of Essence magazine that she "was inspired by my own journey as the family member of a person with a mental illness. My experience with my loved one, as well as the experiences of others grappling with the same issues provided adequate research." 72 Hour Hold is Ms. Campbell's fifth novel and deals with not only mental illness but race relations and family dynamics as well. In a starred review, Publisher's Weekly states that Ms. Campbell "gives Keri's actions and decisions compelling depth and detail, and makes Trina's illness palpable." Read more…

New NIMH Study Indicates that Mental Illness Exacts Heavy Toll Beginning in Youth


A study released by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and that despite effective treatments, there are often long delays between the onset of symptoms and when people seek treatment. This delay in treatment, the study reveals, can lead to a more severe, more difficult-to-treat illness as well as the development of co-occurring mental illnesses.

The National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), a four-paper document, reported in the June 6 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry by Ronald Kessler, Ph.D., and colleagues, documents the prevalence and severity of specific mental disorders. The study was a collaborative project between Harvard University, the University of Michigan and the NIMH Intramural Research Program. Read More…

Fun Fundraising Ideas

Guinness Book of World Records Attempt

Groucho Marx Glasses

Organizers of a fundraising event in Columbus, GA used the lure of setting a Guinness World Record to help make their event a success. Six hundred and sixty-seven people turned out on May 7 in Groucho Marx glasses and fake noses for a record-breaking picture attempt and to take part in a 3-mile walk for the NAMI Columbus affiliate and New Horizons. Although they did not set the record, it was the largest turnout ever for a NAMI Columbus-New Horizons fundraiser.

Tallest Sunflower Contest

NAMI-Yolo County, California, is selling "Seeds of Hope" sunflower seed packets for a $2 donation as part of their contest to see who can grow the tallest sunflower in Yolo County. The winner of the contest will receive a basket filled with gifts from Yolo County businesses and will be announced during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October.

Van Gogh's "Irises" Recreated

Van Gogh's IrisesNAMI North Carolina's "Celebration of Courage" brought attention to issues related to mental illness such as affordable housing and health insurance coverage while at the same time raising funds for NAMI-NC. One thousand purple, pink and white flowers, which were 45 inches high and about 14 inches wide, covered a half-acre in a small park across the street from the N.C. Legislative Building in Raleigh. Flowers could be purchased or donated for $35 and personalized with the name of an individual or group.

Casual Day for Donations

NAMI Southwest Missouri's top fundraiser for the year was the trucking firm, Christenson Transportation, Inc., which raised over $5,200 for the affiliate. Sixteen employees of the firm participated in a NAMIWalks in Springfield, MO., on May 7 and the firm sponsored "Dress Down Fridays" in April, which allowed employees to wear shorts, sandals and t-shirts for a $3 donation.

New Print Materials Available

Adolescent Depression Guide NAMI has created a new guide for families concerning adolescent depression and treatment options. Additionally, NAMI has developed two guides on the new Medicare drug benefit. Both guides can be downloaded from the Web site.

Adolescent Depression Guide
New Medicare Drug Benefit Guides

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