"I have participated in the In Our Own Voice program for quite some time. It was good for me to be exposed to many different audiences. It gives me a better perspective on how others feel about mental illness as well as gaining better perspective on how I view it myself."
This quote is an example of the hundreds of people in our county that have benefitted from Proposition 63 funds, which are for the mentally ill.
I am the education coordinator of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and oversee three of the programs sponsored by this money. They are: In Our Own Voice; Parents and Teachers as Allies; and Provider.
All of these programs have benefitted the teachers and speakers involved in the programs who are family members or have a mental illness themselves. The idea was to create new programs to help prevent mental illness and to educate the public about recovery.
People involved in these programs have a "lived experience" of mental illness and can speak candidly about their treatment, coping skills, education and advocacy to further the awareness of recovery. Only 1.5 percent of the mentally ill become violent. Most go on to lead a life of relative stability and can function well in society with treatment.
The Parents and Teachers as Allies program is one in which a team of four people introduces the early signs of mental illness in children and adolescents. School staffs and parents have the perspective of noticing their children and if they are educated, they can see the early signs and get their loved one diagnosed. More than half of school dropouts have some type of mental illness, so it is imperative to become aware of the early signs and symptoms to help them stay in school.
In Our Own Voice, in which two people who are "consumers" speak about their journey to recovery. In our county, we have presented this to more than 3,000 people and it helps the "consumer" become more aware of their own journey to recovery, become empowered and increase their self-esteem. We have 20 trained speakers, six of whom are Spanish speaking.
The Provider program also is taught by family members and "consumers" and is a scripted program illustrating the need for collaboration in treatment. Overwhelmingly, the county Behavioral Health and Recovery and Recovery Services staff has endorsed this program, participated in it, and this has led to many instances of providers referring families to NAMI. In turn, family and consumers learn about the providers' point of view in the treatment process as well as learn about the laws and procedures of getting treatment for mental illness.
Back in 2006, when the stakeholder process began, NAMI was included in the planning for the use of the Proposition 63 funds and we have been the recipient of support for our innovative programs in Stanislaus County. I feel that most all of our Mental Health Services Act programs have benefitted the young as well as the old to help them have a better quality of life.
Padlo, of Modesto, is education coordinator for the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.