National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from NAMI East Bay


     We are thrilled to announce that BACS (Bay Area Community Services) will be offering four Alameda County Wellness Centers, starting this January.  The concept of a Creative Living Center, where our folks with Serious Mental Illnes can come to socialize and participate in activities, has been put on an administrative back burner for a couple of years, despite our pleas and advocacy.  They're not only back but they will be available 6 days a week and holidays - for longer hours.  The sites will be located in Oakland, Fremont, Hayward and Pleasanton.  Please go to for full schedules.  ALL participants are welcome - there does not need to be a BACS connection.  Thank you, BACS. 



     We celebrate our 50th anniversary as an organization in 2015 - and here are some of the newish projects we're considering.  Please let us know your interest - by phone or email:


GAME NIGHT FOR FAMILIES AND RELATIVES - we envision some structured table board/other game activities for whole (adult) families, with pizza - donations will be accepted.

CONSUMER-FAMILY DIALOG SESSIONS - a continuation of the six sessions already completed last summer/fall around the issue of AOT - other topics will be the focus.




    The Hearing Voices Group for family members will be starting on Thursday, Jan 22, and meet every two weeks thereafter, for 5 or 6 sessions, in Albany.  The group will continue to explore compassionate aproaches to being with,  dialoging and understanding our loved one's experiences, whether it is hearing voices or experiencing visions or different realities.  We will learn tools for coping with these extreme experiences while also gaining a better understanding of their meaning and content.  If you are interested in joining or have questions, please email Ed Herzog at prior to attending the group so we have an idea of how many folks are coming.

     We are also starting a group for those who hear voices, have visions or other different realities.  The group starts on Monday, January 5, in Albany and will meet every 1st and 3rd  Monday of the month.  Prior to attending, please contact Dina Tyler at   The group will be run by and for individuals who have experienced voices, visions, extreme states or unusual beliefs - all leaders have been gone through training.  The purpose is to share experiences so that there is  better understanding and support for each other.   Those in the Hearing Voices Network (HVN) understand the experiences to be real and meaningful. "It is not so much the voices that are the problem, but the difficulties that some people have in coping with them".  Refer to or



          This series of six sessions is being offered by Berkeley Mental Health's Spirituality Initiative for consumers/clients and family members.  Topics include Gratitude What is Spirituality for You, Listening as a Spiritual Practice and Hope. Sessions will be held from 10:30-12:00PM, Thursdays, January 15-February 19, 2015, at 2640 MLK, Jr. Way in Berkeley.  Contact Bill Kruse, Pastor, or Chase Montara, R.N., co-chairs at 510-981-7646.



          A NAMI group will be forming on the University of California Berkeley campus later this academic school year.  The organization will be for both students who are experiencing their own mental health challenges and those who have family members similarly challenged.  Other students who have a personal or pre-professional interest are also invited to join.  NAMI EastBay will be involved as a collaborator, endorser and sponsor and we are looking forward to this opportunity to increase our voice and presence on campus.  Our student liason is Julie Bernardo -; please contact her if you are interested in seeing this happen. We also ask the NAMI families who have UCB connections to participate as well.  Right now, Julie is involved with doing the paperwork and it will help that process if others are ainvolved.



     ABLE -The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to approve a bill that would establish a new way for people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits.  The ABLE or Achieving a Better Life Experience Act passed by a vote of 404 to 17 in early December and has now moved on to the Senate.  Under current rules, many individuals with disabilities can have no more than $2,000 in assets in order to qualify for needed government benefits.  The ABLE Act woauld dramatically alter that scenario, allowing people with disabilities to establish accounts at any financial institution where they could save up to $14,000 annually under current gift-tax limitations.  The accounts could accrue $100,000 withouit jeopardizing eligibility for Social Security and other government programs.  Meanwhile, the legislation ensures that those with disabilities can retain Medicaid coverage no matter their ABLE account balance.  Funds deposited in the proposed accounts could be used to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses.  The bill's lead sponsor is Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla.  With signirficant bipartisan support, the bill is being called the broadest legislation centering on pbeople with disabilities to move forward since passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act a quarter century ago.

     AB59  - This California legislation, sponsored by Assembly Member Marie Waldron, has 4 main provisions, all relating to Laura's Law: 1-Eliminate the requirement that each county's Board of Supervisors endorse  AB1421, 2-Make Laura's Law permanent by eliminating sunset provisions, 3 -Allow orders to extend up to one year (up from 6 months), 4-Requires that people who are held on 14 day holds be evaluated for inclusion in the law's provisions.  Letters of support can be sent to Ms. Waldron, at PO Baox 942849, Sacramento CA 94249 (916-319-2075) or sent via email to  .Copy of the bill can be found at and link to AB59.



      You have the opoportunity to multitask:  order books or goods through and donate to NAMI EastBay at the same time.  We are now registered as a charitable organization through the AmazonSmile program.  Follow the link to that site when you go online and designate our organization when the pop-up appears.  We will receive 0.5% of the purchase price.  We appreciate your consideration of this and thank you in advance for any donations made.



                  If you or your loved one experiences voices, visions, special messages, unusual beliefs or extreme states of consciousness, you may be interested in a free weekly Hearing Voices group, where there will be discussion about the meaning of these experiences and living with and recovering from these experiences.  Led by two facilitators who have lived experienc,e groups are currenyly being held 6-7:30pm at 160 9th Street, San Francisco.  In the fall, this group will move into an Albany location.  For information, email or check out



       With a goal to reduce isolation due to severe mental illess by partnering with family members and loved ones, the Reaching In Project offers three workshops (two starting in September, one in January).  Each is 12 weeks long with weekly 90 minute meetings.  Participants will receive a $25 gift card each week they attend.  Leaders are two experienced psychologists, Dr. Cheryl Johnson and Dr. James Mensing, who will be helping participants discover their stories and narratives regarding their loved ones.  If interested, call Dr. Johnson at 510-326-7261 or email



        Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) can help bring our focus back to caring for ourselves and connecting with others who share our experiences.  NAMI EastBay ahd the Family Education Resource Center (FERC) invite family members to join us for a free weekly WRAP group, starting in September.  This series of eight drop-in sessions is led by Gabriela Zuloaga, FERC Family Advocate, and Stella Allison, family partner at PREP Alameda and NAMI EastBay board member.  Drawing from our own inner strengths, members of the group will create individualized plans to help cultivate personal wellness and resilience.  For information, contact



          Several of our NAMI EastBay members are interested in starting a discussion about supportive housing for our ill family members.  We will be meeting on Thursday, July 10, 2014 7pm at the church office and all interested family members are invited to join this discussion; please contact us by e-mail ( or call 524-1250 if you'd like more information.  We envision a working study group with the hopeful outcome of some action that can relieve the overwhelming panic many of us feel about our loved one's life when we are gone.  There appear to be housing options elsewhere in the state and country and we're hoping to gather information about those already in place.  As we become better informed, we will be inviting local housing specialists in for consultation.  The July meeting will get us up to date on the alphabet soup of public/private partnerships.



     Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services (ACBHCS) has released their AB1421 revised ten recommendations, which are now available on the BHCS website  The Board of Supervisors Health Committee  reviewed these recommendations on Monday, Oct 28, 2013, in a meeting which included substantial public comment, both pro and con.  Supervisors Chan and Carson  sent their recommendations onto the full board.  In late February, 2014, the full board was presented with ten recommendations developed by ACBHCS, with the last one concerning AOT (Assisted Outpatient Treatment).  In the all-day meeting, there was ample public comment.  At the end, by a vote of 3-2, the decision was made to postpone a decision for 90 days and direct the county staff to convene a stakeholder group and develop a "compassionate" recommendation to meet the needs of the population in question.  The stakehold group of around 30 individuals, including four family members and four consumer representatives, met the first time on April 23, under the direction of an outside consultant.  There will be three more meetings before the end of May.

     As an offshoot of the public hearings, a group of seven consumers and seven family members is setting up and engaging in a group dialog so that differing perspectives can be shared away from the public venue where there is a time limit, TV cameras and recording.  This group met for the first time on April 26, and a series of meetings are anticipated.  Eventually, this will be a more open group, and hopefully there will be some collaborative advocacy efforts.




     Are you a consumer who had enjoyed a student life or stable work career only to be stopped short by a psychotic episode or other form of mental illness?  Are you struggling with stigma, discrimination and life choices?  Are you fairly insightful about your current situation and on the path to recovery?  Have you visited support groups and found you didn't identify nor relate to other group members?  We've been hearing from some of you about your desire to connect with others in a similar situation, and NAMI EastBay wants to be the conduit for your networking efforts.  Send us an e-mail ( with "Networking" as the subject line or call 524-1250, leave your name and we'll get you connected with the group that is getting started.




     The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) was enacted but a final rule implementing the law has not yet been issued.  The Administration needs to hear from patients and providers who have experienced parity violations.  Examples may be plans denying or more strictly managing mental health and addiction treatment services than other plan services, limited outpatient sessions, too low reimbursement rates, labeling and consequent rejection of treatments as "experimental", non-coverage of intensive outpatient or inpatient care, etc.  Send an e-mail documenting this issue to, or, along with a copy to  An associated website is  Or you can call the Dept of Labor at 866-444-3272 or Dept of Health and Human Services Center for Insurance Information and Oversight at 877-267-2323 X61565.  Be sure to obtain a tracking number.  Contact our office if you'd like a sample letter or phone script.



     Everyone who receives SSI, SSDI or other federal benefit payments by paper check is required by the US Dept of Treasury to switch to an electronic payment option by March 1, 2013.  There are two Treasury-recommended electronic payment options: direct deposit to a checking or savings acdount or the Direct Express Debit MasterCard card.  The swith can be made online at www.GoDirect.,org or by calling the US Treasury Electronic Solution Center at 800-333-1795.  For diret deposit, people can also sign up at their bank or credit union.,




            As part of the MHSA (Mental Health Services Act) Innovations stage, a consulting group took a comprehensive look at the demographics, needs and issues surrounding those individuals living with mental illness who are generally isolated, not receiving full services and living with families or in board and cares or SROs (Single Room Occupancies).  The document is available to read at - follow link at bottom to Isolated Consumers.  You can register to receive e-mail announcements.  Recommendations for proposals to be funded will soon be released.



     If you are interested in discussing alternatives to medications, go to the yahoo group  Some of our NAMI members are interested in exploring this topic and, after a roundtable discussion, we decided to hold this open-to-all discussion group online.   Call our office at 510-524-2520 if you'd like to be kept informed.



For parents with children with alcoholishm but may also be helpful for parents with children with Dual Diagnoses (mental illness and addiction)

Wednesdays 7-8 pm

Kaiser Mosswood Bldg., 11th floor   Conference Room 1172

3505 Broadway, Oakland ( next to freeway, parking on first floor)

     This is an open meeting - for anyone affected by someone else's drinking.  Being affecteed by another's alcoholism is our common bond.  Sharing our experience, strength, and hope with others benefits our recovery.  For information, cotact Peter at 510-846-3403 or



     Housing CHOICES is a collaborative housing information and education effort focused on expanding housing choices for low-income Alameda County residents.  Finding an affordable place to live should be less about whom you know and more about making informed personal choices with the best information available.  This website offers a searchable database with a range of different types of housing opportunities.  The site also contains other useful information and resources related to finding and keeping a home.  AC Housing Choices is financially supported with Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) funding.




      Recovery is a technique of self-help developed by Abraham Low, MD, to help patients who experience nervousness, tension and unpleasant symptoms replace these negative feelings with calm and peace.  The technique centers on language and helps participant replcae the "defeatist babble of the brain" with a set of helpful phrases that can be useful in times of  emotionality.  Meetings are divided into 3 parts:  a reading from a Recovery publication, participants' examples, mutual aid.  Some members are available for 5-minute phone calls.  Weekly meetings are held throughout the bay area and nation and are open to all.  Oakland meetings:  Monday, 12pm, Resurrection Lutheran Church Parish House, 397 Euclid Ave - contact Thomas at 510-633-2491; Wednesdays 12pm St. Cuthbert's Episcopal Church Parish House, 7932 Mountain Blvd - contact Thomas at 510-633-2491; Saturdays 1:30pm, Kaiser Fabiola Building, 3801 Howe St, room G70 (basement level) -  contact David at 415-346-4320.  Detailed directions can be found at  There are also meetings in San Francisco (Tuesdays at 6:30pm and Wednesdays at 4pm), Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Cupertino, Corte Madera, San Jose and Santa Rosa.



     The Alameda Social Inclusion Campaign is organized to stamp out stigma and discrimination against people with mental illness in  the media.  You can help out by deciding which media form you would like to monitor - newspapers, magazines, television, movies, radio or Internet.,  Watch for accurate and inaccurate portrayals of people with mental health issues and send your examples to PEERS  (Peers Envisioning and Engaging in Recovery Services).  Your material will be posted as an acton alert on  For more info or to apply, contact Shannon Eliot at or 510-832-7337.



     Berkeley Mental Health is pleased to host a weekly DRA group that is based on the 12 Step Model and open to the community.  This is a self-help program for individuals who experience a dual disorder of chemical dependency and an emotional or psychiatric illness.  The sole purpose is to help men and women stop using alcohol and other intoxicating drugs and learn to manage their emotional or psychiatric illness in a healthy and constructive way.  Meetings start on Wednesdays June 15, 1:30-2:30PM and will continue thereafter the same time on Wednesdays.  Meetings are held at 2640 MLK JR. Way, Berkeley, in the auditorium (Derby St entrance).  Call 510-981-5290 for more information.



     PREP's mission is to transform the treatment of psychosis by intervening early with comprehensive assessment and diagnosis and by delivering the most effective multi-faceted treatment focused on wellness and achieving recovery.  PREP assists youth and young adults aged 16-24 years in Alameda County who are exhibiting signs and symptoms * of serious mental illness.  Services are FREE and include the following:  rigorous early assessment, strength-based case management, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, medication management, multifamily groups, co-occurring substance abuse services, supported education and vocational assistance and culturally competent services.

     This project will be operated collaboratively by the East Bay Community Recovery Project, Family Service Agency of San Francisco, UCSF Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, Mental Health Association of Alameda County and the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services/Transition Age Youth (TAY) System of Care.  Make referrals through 1-888-535-7737.  To set up educational presentations, call 510-697-7737.  Locations are at 2577 San Pablo Ave, Oakland 94612 and 22971 Sutro St, Hayward 94541.  For more information, visit

     * Early warning signs of psychosis:  unusual ideas or behaviors, seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/tasting things that are not actually there, inability to tell what is real from what is not, feelings of paranoia or grandiosity, withdrawal and loss of interest in usual activities, deterioration in work or study, problems with memory and concentration, trouble speaking or understanding what others are saying, becoming easily confused or lost.



     The OCF, San Francisco Bay Area is an organization dealing with OCD.  There are regularly-scheduled support meetings throughout the bay area; these are mutual help groups open to individuals with OCD, anxiety and/or depression - and family members and friends.  For information, contact the foundation at or 415-273-7273.  A specific group listing can be found on the Resources page on this website.



      The workshop on "Confronting Anosognosia: How to Help Those Who Don't Know They're Sick" put by the Treatment Advocacy Center was a standing-room-only event at the 2010 NAMI National convention in early July.  The panel featured Xavier Amador, MD, author of I Am Not Sick I Don't Need Help!.  A video excerpt of Dr. Amador's comments can be viewed in two parts online or to watch the entire workshop online, visit Anosognosia Workshop July 3, 2010 (NAMI Conference) at  Or, google Dr. Amador to find other links.



     Unfortunately, the second line of that title could be ONGOING.   Does it ever end?  As you're probably aware, the Governor and state legislators are eyeing the funds in the MHSA (Mental Health Services Act) and proposing that they be diverted to more general purposes to help the state in its fiscal crisis.  Since the voters approved this fund in 2004 via Proposition 63, the funds can only be re-allocated via another vote by the electorate.  Please keep informed and notify your legislators regarding this.  Check the advocacy website for more information:  Click on the CapWiz link to find your California legislators. 



      We are excited to announce the opening of the Family Education and Resource Center.  The primary  function of FERC is to provide education, hope and support to family and caregivers of individuals with mental illness.  All services are provided free of charge to any residents of Alameda County.  In addition to providing direct services, FERC will function to also provide feedback and input to ACBHCS (Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services) decision makers at all levels about the roles and needs of caregivers;  FERC will also be helping providers develop a perspective from the experiences of families and caregivers.  FERC will provide information, referrals, advice and assistance, support and education to family members.  Well-trained family advocates will be able to provide assistance in getting help and will be available in different locations throughout the county. 

     There will be one main site at the Eastmont Town Center, 7200 Bancroft Avenue, suite 269, in Oakland.  The main toll-free office phone is 1-888-896-3372 (FERC)  or 510-746-1700.  Website address is  Initial hours are Monday-Friday, 9-5.  Four satellite offices will be located in Fremont, North Oakland, Hayward and Livermore, and these will be opening in succession.  All FERC staff members, including the five Family Advocates and the Warm Line Information and Referral Specialist, have personal experience as family members/caregivers of people with serious emotional disturbance or mental illness.     FERC is a program of the Mental Health Association of Alameda County, operated under contract with Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services, using Mental Health Services Act funds.



     Because our newsletter comes out on a bi-monthly basis, we are often not able to inform our readers in timely fashion about new resources, employment opportunities, housing, fund-raising, etc.  So, if you send us your e-mail address and let us know your areas of interest, we'll try to keep you up-to-date on what's happening locally, state-wide and nationally.  Some areas about which we get regular information and which might be of interest to you are the following:  Berkeley Mental Health Services, Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)activities in Alameda County  such as Prevention and Early Intervention, Workforce Education and Training, Family Education Resource Center, and  Housing), employment, legislation, media watch, consumer events, fund-raising, local health/wellness activities, Family to Family classes, etc.  Send a note to us at and let us know your interests.  We won't inundate you but will try to keep you up to date.



     Barbara Meyers, Community Minister at the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, has put together a series of half-hour public service programs on mental health.  Past shows have involved stigma, recovery, Bipolar Disorder, and African-Americans and Mental Illness.  To access these programs and find the channel and times in your area where they can be viewed, go to  More programs are in the works. 


WEBSITES OF NOTE - This website is recommended by one of our board members.  It has easy-to-understand information about Special Needs Trusts.  E-mail to - This is a fairly new website which describes itself as America's mental health channel.  It self-describes as the largest consumer mental health site on the Net and it provides current information on mental disorders, medications, treatments and offers a mental health social network.  It also provides a downloadable Mood Tracker and a Mediminder.  It is worth checking out - for families and consumers. - This is a website recommended by one of our members, geared towards the questions that family members might have regarding medications. - This is the online registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices so if you want to research timely and reliable information about effective interventions to prevent and treat mental disorders, this is the place for you.

     Therapy online:  This is a new arena to explore and it might be the appropriate process for certain individuals.  Here are three sites that have come to our attention: (secure Web-facilitated video links between therapists and clients), (uses Internet messaging as primary online chat modality) and (online group counseling for chemical dependency and addictions issues). -This website provides news and information about the organization and its two peer-based self-help programs, Recovery International and The Power to Change, as well as instructions on how to apply the organization's cognitive behavioral techniques to everyday life. - Of course, we always note this site of our mother organization.  It is comprehensive and rich, with all sorts of discussion groups and information. - This center, founded by Dr. Fuller Torrey, produces  one of the most hard-hitting and provocative advocacy websites. - collaborative housing information and education effort focused on expanding housing choices for low-incone Alameda County residents.  Website offers a searchable database with a range of different types of housing opportunities.  Information is also availalbe by calling 2-1-1, Alameda County's health and human services hotline. - NAMI supported online community for young adults ages 18-25.  Provides mutual support in navigating unique challenges and opportunities during critical transition years.   This is a user-driven social networking community.  

     www. suicideperspective -This website was developed by a father who lost his son to suicide twelve years ago.  The purpose of the site is to remove the stigma, offer comfort to survivors and save lives.  Of particular interest is the section on The Suicidal Brain, which was developed in consultation with neuroscientists.  It provides an analogy between the brain and a house's basement and offers a comprehensible explanation of some of the brain's functioning.



Members of our affiliate have been actively involved in several of Alameda County's MHSA planning processes.  Please refer to the website for the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care System for specific details about new programs.  Family representation is crucial to many of the planning steps and we are always ready to share that role with interested family members.  Contact our office if you are interested in participating.



     This bill gives family members a way  to provide written history and other pertinent information regarding their loved one to hospital and medical staff.  Forms, developed by the county and family members, are available through our office.  If you would like help in completing this form, please contact us.