Carlos Larrauri, R.N., B.S.N.

LarrauriUse these links to go to specific areas of the profile:
Candidate speech
Experience with mental illness
Skills, knowledge and experience relative to the NAMI Strategic Plan:
Driver 1: Build a Movement
Driver 2: Leverage Technology
Driver 3: Drive Advocacy
Driver 4: Focus on Youth
Driver 5: Strengthen the Organization
Employment and other affiliations
Candidate statement in the Advocate
Letter of Nomination

Nominated by NAMI Miami-Dade County (Florida)

Member, NAMI Miami-Dade County (FL)

Listen to Carlos's speech here.

As a young man in my senior year of college, I experienced the onset of psychosis. I had to leave school and return home to get help, and shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I openly identify as an individual with lived experience and living in recovery.

Please describe how your skills, knowledge and experience will contribute to the NAMI Board of Directors role in delivering on the strategic plan. Using no more than 300 words per driver, respond to each of the five drivers in the 2015-2019 NAMI Strategic Plan.

Driver 1: Build A Movement - NAMI will broaden public awareness and inclusion in every part of the alliance.

I will leverage my skills, knowledge and experience to build a movement and broaden public awareness and inclusion in part of the alliance. To increase the visibility and impact of NAMI I will speak openly and candidly regarding NAMI and my recovery at every opportunity provided. In my capacity as a board member for NAMI Miami-Dade County, I have shared my story of lived experience with Schizophrenia with various community partners. I’ve maintained speaking engagements or have shared my story with the Crisis Intervention Team Training of police force, NAMI Family-to-Family courses, regional mental health conferences and summits, colleges and universities, and with media outlets in print and radio.

By continuing my commitment to speak openly and publicly regarding recovery from mental illness, I will strengthen the voice as a unified organization of lived experience. Putting a face, name and personal story to serious mental illness such as Schizophrenia, humanizes and normalizes the experience for other individuals and families who live with psychosis. Sharing our stories and listening to others bring mental illness out of the darkness of shadows and into the light.

Lastly, I will build a movement by maximizing outreach and engagement with diverse communities. As native to Miami-Dade County, I am home to one of the diverse communities in the United States. The attitude of inclusiveness and diversity of Miami-Dade County is an asset that I will leverage at the National level. I would like to see a national effort to continue to maximize outreach and engagement with communities such as Latino/Hispanics, allies of the LGTBQ community, and other health professionals such as nurses and social workers.

Driver 2: Leverage Technology - NAMI will expand use of technology to build capacity and connection.

I will assist NAMI to leverage technology to expand leadership and organizational capacity. I will leverage my personal and professional network to help build our leadership and organization. As an advocate, we build bridges in our communities, and technology allows us to stay connected to others across city, state or national boundaries. I will continue to build contacts and community relationships that can serve to help the leadership and the NAMI organization grow, through my continued community work in South Florida.

Furthermore, leveraging technology will be crucial to expanding access to educational programs and other signature program offerings. NAMI must lead the way in increasing access to services though technology solutions. Technology is still a new frontier in mental health support and data is limited, but the possibilities include a more cost-effective, convenient and accessible way to receive support or care. Before I grew comfortable speaking openly about my lived experience, there were times where I reached out in the digital space. This provided a place where I felt I could comfortably share my story and receive support. This is not uncommon, and there is growing evidence to suggest that youth are increasingly likely to reach out online for support or education rather than seek a professional for help.

Lastly, I will help maximize connections and support between individuals and communities through technology. NAMI must strengthen its image as the leader in mental health advocacy and leveraging technology will aid in this end. Rebranding mental illness and increasing awareness of it will require a savvy digital media presence that serves to further connection and support between communities.

Driver 3: Drive Advocacy - NAMI will lead advocacy efforts that drive increased access and quality.

I will lead advocacy efforts that drive increased access and quality by identifying and promoting effective programs to address underserved populations, including people who are difficult to engage, homeless, involved in the criminal justice system, as well as military and veterans.

Initially in my career, I worked in a national model Jail Diversion Program which served criminal justice involved individuals with mental illness. My role was to assist clients apply for federal financial entitlements, which then paid for treatment and basic needs such as housing and insurance. This program demonstrated to be highly effective in reducing recidivism. The recidivism rate for defendants in the misdemeanor program was reduced from 75 percent to approximately 20 percent a year, and the recidivism rate for people being charged with a felony is now at 6 percent compared to an 86 percent repeat offense rate for persons with serious mental illnesses.

Furthermore, I have also seen the shortcomings and failures of the behavioral health system. During my experience working as a psychiatric nurse in the Florida forensic hospital system, I personally witnessed how individuals with mental illness are exploited without the appropriate safeguards and efforts to advocate on their behalf. This experience was eye opening, and a challenge for myself as a professional and individual living in recovery.

Nonetheless, my professional experience has only served to reinforce my passion to serve as a leader for advocacy of underserved populations. As such I will advocate to ensure that health reform and federal mental health parity lead to improved outcomes. I will leverage my understanding of evidence based practices and models, and my personal story of lived experience, to forge meaningful discussion and action at the highest levels of decision making within the NAMI organization and within our efforts with national government.

Driver 4: Focus on Youth - NAMI will develop and implement strategies that engage youth, young adults and their families, expanding our reach across the lifespan.

I will assist NAMI to develop and implement strategies that engage in youth, young adults and their families, expanding our reach across the lifespan by promoting early identification and intervention. NAMI must pioneer offering individuals the ability to reach out for help or engage with peers, professionals and community support through the technological space. Utilizing digital outreach takes a fresh approach to promoting early identification and intervention and is yielding promising data and outcomes. The trend of individuals reaching out for help in the digital space will only further increase, and NAMI will need to unite together technology and youth outreach to expand their reach among youth.

Furthermore, I will focus on youth by developing and integrating initiatives for youth and young adults throughout NAMI. Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. It has never been more imperative or crucial to focus efforts on young adults. I would like to engage in efforts to expand access to NAMI signature programs for university students, secondary and primary school. Offering educations or support groups embedded in educational institutions will expand access to NAMI signature programs.

Like most others, my illness developed during young adulthood and during some of the most beautiful and exciting years of my life. The experience of psychosis quickly became traumatic and challenged my development of self and growing into adulthood. To be able to make sense of this experience, I have committed to focus on engaging youth, and assisting organizations and communities develop systems for preventing onset of serious mental illness through early intervention.

Driver 5: Strengthen the Organization - NAMI will grow and develop financing, infrastructure and capacity that support a vibrant and bold organization.

I will strengthen the NAMI organization by growing financial resources, building and expanding strategic partnerships, and enhancing volunteer capacity and capabilities across the organizations. During my term with NAMI Miami-Dade County, we partnered with multiple organizations such as our regions managed behavioral health care entity, city government, local universities and colleges, and other non-profits, that allowed us to grow our financial resources and enhance our volunteer capacity and capabilities.

Through our partnerships with our regions managed behavioral health care entity and other non-profits we have been able to secure restricted and unrestricted funding to grow our organization's capacity. More importantly, these strategic relationships have allowed us to develop further program offerings and grow our exposure in the community. Moreover, through partnerships with local universities and city government, we organized community events such as a Mental Health Summit and Mental Health Film Festival. These events served to develop our volunteer base and further awareness of NAMI and mental health related issues in our community.

In sum, I will strengthen the organization by continuing to build bridges with community leaders and organizations. Building relationships is at the core of our work as advocates and allows us to grow our financial resources and volunteer capacity and capabilities. I would like to develop partnerships with youth-focused groups at the university and secondary school level, healthcare professional organizations such as nurses and social workers, minority communities such as Hispanic/Latinos and the LGBTQ community. Through building partnerships, we bring mental illness out of the shadows and normalize the experience, increasing awareness, and allowing other to get help more easily.

Job Title or Position: Family Nurse Practitioner Student

Employer: The University of Miami

NAMI Affiliations: Member, NAMI Miami-Dade County Board of Directors; NAMI Connection facilitator/trainer, NAMI Miami-Dade County

Candidate Statement as Published in the NAMI Advocate

As a young man in my senior year of college, I experienced the onset of psychosis. I had to leave school and return home to get help, and shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I openly identify as an individual with lived experience and living in recovery.

I came to NAMI seeking help and support after being diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Within the support group setting, I found a community of people where I felt comfortable disclosing my diagnosis, and discussing the challenges of living with a serious mental illness. The community provided by NAMI and its programs are at the heart of my recovery.

As I gained traction in recovery, I was encouraged by peers and mentors to become more involved in the community. As a member of the growing NAMI Miami-Dade County affiliate, I’ve worked and volunteered in many roles including NAMI Connection facilitator and trainer, Director of Programs, and Member of the Board of Directors. In the past 2 years, we’ve grown our affiliate from having no revenue and one support group, to over 100k in revenue and 10 support groups.

I will focus on 3 key strategic drivers to move NAMI forward. First and Foremost, I will lead advocacy efforts that drive increased access and quality. I will utilize my understanding of evidence based practices and models, as well as my professional and lived experience, to forge meaningful action at the highest levels of decision making.

Furthermore, I will assist NAMI in developing and implementing strategies that engage youth, young adults and their families. I am committed to engaging youth and assisting organizations and communities develop systems for preventing onset of serious mental illness through early intervention.

Lastly, I will help NAMI grow and develop financing, infrastructure and capacity that support a vibrant and bold organization. I will speak openly regarding NAMI and my recovery at every opportunity provided, and strengthen the organization by building partnerships with community leaders and organizations. Through building partnerships, we bring mental illness out of the shadows and allow others to get help more easily.

Read Carlos Larrauri's nomination letter [pdf]