Letter from the President
I have suffered from depression my whole life and have had counseling at least half of my life. There was a point a couple of years ago when I had no health insurance and when I eventually got some, my Psychiatrist put me in the Behavioral Health Unit of our hospital because I was suicidal. When I got out, I found that my health insurance policy did not cover any therapists in my area. I was lost and depressed again. I talked to my cousin and she told me about NAMI. She connected me with NAMI and sent me schedules of the meetings and classes.
I went to the peer to peer meetings. I took the Peer-to-Peer class and also the Family-to-Family class. Over this last year, NAMI members and my family members have told me I have blossomed. I went from a depressed recluse to a happy person who finally had the inner strength to get out of my house and do things and to take care of myself. I have gained such inner strength that I no longer sabotage my recovery. I give all the credit to NAMI because I still don't have insurance that covers one- to-one counseling.
Another part of NAMI that has helped me so much is the art classes provided. I have had a brain injury, and the art classes (ceramics, drawing, and painting) have helped me a lot.
I continue to go the NAMI Connections group meetings and do not like to miss them. I just need to say how much NAMI has done for me over the past year. I have made NAMI friends, I feel comfortable around NAMI people, and I cannot picture my life without NAMI. No agency in the town where I live has anything like this, and our county has very little mental health coverage. I can honestly say, NAMI has saved my life. I sometimes have become suicidal, but there is always a NAMI person I can call anytime, and I have. The literature that is sent by NAMI is also a great help.
The previous letter came to NAMI Flagstaff earlier this year, but her words are addressed to you this holiday season so that you can enjoy the grace and gratitude they convey about the difference NAMI Flagstaff makes in the lives of families, friends, and the neighbors gathered together in our special community of recovery and resiliency. NAMI programs work because you make them work. Whether it is the safety and comfort of a support group or the classes that their families and caregivers take to improve their relationships and care, your contribution will help us become the difference between a life lived in hiding and one that blossoms. Won’t you help us grow more blossoms in 2015?
The Value of Life is Measured by the Lives it Touches
In 2014, your contributions and community organization grants helped NAMI Flagstaff build new programs like the Wellness Project. The Wellness Project is based on scientific research that people with serious mental illness enjoy significant improvements in their mental health by improving their physical health and wellbeing. NAMI Flagstaff’s new Wellness Project helps people with mental illness advocate for their wellbeing and function at a higher level of health by participating in physical fitness training. Together with the city of Flagstaff Aquaplex, we started offering strength training, conditioning, and dietary counseling to help these individuals realize their unique personal goals and improvements. They tracked their success in physical, mental, and social scenarios, which helped them realize measurable success along with tremendous attitude and function improvements. Each participant has clearly demonstrated how their position in society has improved and how their improvement will now assist others in the world they share.
Ten individuals participated in the Wellness Project in 2014 – a solid start, but short of our goal of 30. Our goal for 2015 is to continue these services to build upon the gains each uniquely troubled individual has worked so hard to accomplish. We also need to reach many more people and build healthier, fuller, more independent lives in our community. Your tax-deductible end-of-year contribution will help us reach that goal. Click this link to join by making a tax deductible donation to NAMI Flagstaff, a 50l(c) 3 non-profit organization.
Forming Villages through Family 2 Family Education
When a family member lives with a mental illness, the whole family lives with it. The family often feels isolated by fear of the unknown, by lack of knowledge, and by the social stigma associated with mental illness. “It Takes a Village” is a philosophy that NAMI Flagstaff members learn when communities form around us to ease our burden and become sources of heart and strength. NAMI Flagstaff’s Family 2 Family Education Program creates these “villages” and changes lives. Family 2 Family classes are for people who love someone with a serious mental illness. Participants learn valuable knowledge and skills to improve their relationship their loved one. Through this 12-week program, Family 2 Family class members learn about the brain, problem solving, crisis intervention, communication skills, self-care, medications, recovery and advocacy. The class assists family members through the turbulent ride when mental illness is involved. In 2014, thirteen people formed Family 2 Family “villages” through these classes, including one mother who wrote:
“I was extremely fortunate to attend the NAMI Family to Family Education Class in Flagstaff, Arizona. The class was extraordinarily well-timed, as my teenage daughter’s struggle with mental illness worsened considerably this fall. During the class my daughter was admitted to an inpatient treatment program in Phoenix and a month later to a residential treatment facility in Utah. The class was extremely helpful in educating me about the various types of mental illness, medication treatments, coping strategies, and effective methods to support my daughter. The class had excellent teachers and very supportive classmates. I would highly recommend this class to other families and look forward to continuing my involvement with the NAMI community.
Thank you for being there NAMI!” M.S.
Peer Supporting Peers
NAMI Flagstaff’s Peer 2 Peer classes forms another kind of village – this one made up of people who live with a mental illness. The ten-week class provides education about mental illness, self-care, and relapse prevention. The classes are experiential and build upon one another. In 2014, seven people graduated from our peer-to-peer classes. In the coming year, we hope to triple that number in our goals to reach people in need of this valuable bridge to recovery and resiliency.
Walk Your Socks Off for Mental Health
On a cold, gray drizzly morning in October this year, people from all “walks” of life – people with mental illness, their families, their friends, NAMI members, and mental health advocates – got out of bed, pulled on a pair of colorful zany socks and showed up at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff to walk those socks off. We walked. We danced. We played games. We made friends. The dedication, compassion, and comradery among that community helped raise funds to benefit the programs that support the needs of NAMI Flagstaff members. It was a major effort by many volunteers and contributors who not only reached into their pockets but who also reached into the hearts of people who participate in our programs:
"I brought my daughter to Walk Your Socks Off. She wasn't sure at first, but right off, we felt it was a place with no stigma. She felt so comfortable. She really let her hair down and had fun. Our whole family participated in the fun!"
"It was so nice to be around others who share our struggles. I met people whose stories I could relate to!"
"Wow, I didn't know there were so many who are affected as our family is! Walk Your Socks Off brought us together, and it felt safe to just be who we are. No stigma.”
A Lifetime Achievement for Mental Health in Flagstaff
At the NAMI State Annual Meeting in Phoenix on May 10th, former NAMI Flagstaff President Barbara Bartell was presented with the highly esteemed Frances Peterson Lifetime Achievement Award. This statewide award is presented annually to an individual whose volunteer services to the mission of NAMI are deemed exceptional. Frances Peterson is a founding member of NAMI Arizona, leading the way to the formation of ten affiliates. The mother of a son who suffered from mental illness, she is known for helping families in crisis. Returning to law school later in her life, she used her professional skills on a volunteer basis to help families in need of support and counsel.
Like Frances, Barb saw a need and helped to found a NAMI affiliate in Flagstaff. She returned to school later in life to earn her Master’s Degree in Counseling and continues to use these skills, combined with her personal passion, to help those who suffer from mental illness as well as their families and loved ones. Barb is a voice for NAMI in our community. She serves on the Board of Trustees at NARBHA. She teaches and presents many of NAMI’s signature programs such as: Family to Family Education, Peer to Peer Education, Connect, and In Our Own Voice. She tirelessly recruits new participants and educators. We are proud of Barb for earning this award. More than that, we are grateful she has devoted so much of her passion, time, and energy to the Flagstaff community.
Share in our Goals for 2015
We start the New Year by welcoming new board members and leadership. Kate Yenik, marketing specialist at The Guidance Center and a Master’s degree candidate in the Public Administration program at NAU leads our board as president. Heidi Fuller, Communications Director and Public Information Officer at Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority fills the vice president post. Sara Naprta, Master’s degree candidate at NAU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is the new board secretary, while Deanna Prida continues (with our deepest gratitude) as treasurer.
Together with our existing membership and former board members, NAMI Flagstaff’s new leadership will invigorate its efforts to grow the organization so that we can reach more people and create more stories like the ones our letter writers shared with us.
In 2015, NAMI Flagstaff will increase our membership, especially among community members who want to devote time and energy to advocate for mental health. We also will improve programs and scheduling to make classes, groups, and workshops available to more people. We will engage with other organizations and communicate more widely to reach more people who need our help. In 2015, we also will maximize the resources that NAMI provides at the national level and share them with our community. Please help us meet our goals.
Anybody who advocates for mental health care be a member! Click here to become part of our community by joining today or making your end-of-year tax deductible contribution that will ensure NAMI Flagstaff touches more lives, builds more villages, supports more peers by walking more miles, and achieving more success to improve mental healthcare support services in Coconino County.
In gratitude and wellness,
Kate Yenik, President
NAMI-Flagstaff Board of Directors