Saturday, May 9, 2009

NAMI Walks: A Great Event, an Important Cause

I was honored today to serve as an honorary co-chair, with Channel 9's Carol Williams, of the annual NAMI Walks event--a community walk to support the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Hamilton County, and to raise awareness, and help end the stigma, of mental illness.

NAMI and its members and families have been a great help to me in understanding the impact of mental illness on families across this community. Many have shared incredibly personal and difficult stories, but it is those stories that all citizens need to hear to understand. Carol highlighed one heroic mother in this story.

And NAMI and its members have been effective advocates to spur government, and the criminal justice system in particular, to better address and respond to citizens with mental illness.
Partly due to the relationship I have built with NAMI, we are working hard at the County to ensure that we improve our system. Amending the Medicaid rules so those who leave jail can immediately get the treatment they need for their mental illnesses, pushing for a mental health court at the felony level, expanding our pretrial and reentry services so there are upfront assessments of those with mental illnesses, and other steps, are all part of this important effort.

Thanks to NAMI for all you do in the community, and thanks to NAMI families for opening up, sharing your stories, and educating us all.

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