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For Immediate Release
May 12, 2003

 

NAMI Honors "Hope on the Street"

Ramiro Guevara, Profiled in Documentary on Homelessness, Appointed Director of NAMI Antistigma Program

Real men with depression

Ramiro Guevara, from "Hope on the Street"
Photo courtesy Elizabeth Pepin/KQED


Arlington, VA—The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) today announced that San Francisco’s KQED Public Television will receive its 2003 Outstanding Media Award for the television documentary "Hope on the Street," produced by Michael Isip.

Funded initially by a Rosalyn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship, the documentary is being honored at the Carter Center in Atlanta on Tuesday, May 13.

During the past two years, two Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded to journalists whose work NAMI first honored. Other NAMI media awards for 2003 will be announced before NAMI’s annual convention, June 28-July 1, 2003, in Minneapolis.

Initially broadcast in October 2002, "Hope on the Street" profiles four homeless persons with mental illnesses, who struggle for recovery—with different degrees of success. National distribution of the documentary recently began through the American Public Television network and continues through June (check local listings). The documentary is intended in part to shatter the stigma that surrounds mental illness by telling real stories with human faces—and showing that recovery is possible.

One of the individuals profiled is Ramiro (Ray) Guevara, who lives with bipolar disorder. For much of his life, Guevara went undiagnosed or untreated. He used drugs, was a gang member, and lived on the street for years, before finally succeeding in treatment and recovery. Today, he is married, has three children, and has served as an outreach worker to homeless persons.

Guevara also has begun a new chapter in his storyappointed this month as national director of NAMI’s antistigma program, In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illnesses, which trains people with mental illnesses to speak about their experiences to civic organizations, schools, and other groups. He will move to the Washington, D.C. area later this summer.

"Hope on the Street’s impact has been significant," said NAMI national executive director Richard Birkel, Ph.D. "It is an outstanding example of how the news media can help confront the current mental health crisis in communities through public education."

"We are proud that Ray Guevara has joined NAMI’s national team," Birkel said. "In the documentary, Ray provides a human face of recovery. In his new position, he will direct the training and deployment of hundreds and thousands of individuals like him, who will present testimony in their own communities—and in turn inspire many other people."

"I am excited to have the opportunity to work with NAMI to help others on a national scale," Guevara said.  "Recovery does happen. In the past five years, I have gone from living on public assistance to now having a 401(k) plan. My own experience is one of hope. The number one barrier to recovery is stigma. In our own voice, those of us who have found our way out of homelessness, must bear witness to others throughout the nation. No one should left behind."

"Hope of the Street" was produced as part of KQED Public Television’s "Bay Window" series. Sales and rentals of the documentary are available through the Filmakers Library at http://www.filmakers.com.

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With more than 220,000 members and 1200 state and local affiliates, NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe mental illnesses. Funding sources for NAMI programs include hundreds of state and local governments and foundations; tens of thousands of individual donors; and a growing number of corporations. NAMI’s greatest asset, however, is its volunteers—who donate an estimated $135 million worth of their time each year to education, support and advocacy. NAMI does not endorse any specific medication or treatment.

Copyright Date: 05/13/2003

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