Ralph E. Nelson Jr., M.D. is the treasurer on the NAMI Board of Directors. He is a retired radiologist and was a partner at the Kern Radiology Medical Group, Inc. in Bakersfield, Calif.
Dr. Nelson became an advocate for people affected by mental illness in the 1990s after numerous attempts to find help for his son. He started attending NAMI support group meetings more than 19 years ago. The NAMI Tulare County support group gave him and his wife the understanding, support, information and comfort that they needed to survive his son’s diagnosis.
Dr. Nelson hopes to promote recovery, resiliency and wellness for individuals living with mental illness who have been left behind by the recovery movement and are experiencing homelessness, incarceration, chronic hospitalization and/or living in locked residential facilities.
After several years as president of NAMI Tulare County, he was elected to the NAMI California Board of Directors. During his four years as president of NAMI California, he was the spokesperson for the passage of Proposition 63 and the implementation of the Mental Health Services Act, which promoted the transformation of recovery, resiliency and wellness, focused services for people with severe mental illness, as well as started Family-to-Family Education classes and doubled NAMI Tulare County’s membership.
Dr. Nelson is recipient of 2012 Don and Peggy Richardson Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to People Challenged by Serious Mental Illness award, presented by NAMI California.
Dr. Nelson chaired the NAMI States Presidents’ Council for two years. He is a commissioner on the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission and is a member of the Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Consortium of the California Mental Health Services Authority. He earned his B.A. in biology from the University of Minnesota, Morris, and his M.D. at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. He received his Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Specialty certification from the VA Hospital and University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He is presently the secretary of NAMI Tulare County and its liaison to the Tulare County CIT program.