Devika Bhushan, MD
Nominated by NAMI California
Member, NAMI San Francisco (CA)
Listen to Devika's Candidate Speech

Job Title or Position:

  • Public Health Leader; Pediatrician; Mental Health Activist

Additional NAMI Involvement:

  • While serving as California's Acting Surgeon General, I gave the 2022 keynote address at NAMI California's annual conference, entitled: The journey to healing.
  • I additionally spoke alongside Dr. Ken Duckworth at two events during the 2022 Bay Area portion of the book tour for You Are Not Alone.
  • I was privileged to make countless deep connections to members of the NAMI community at these and two other recent events (plenary panel, 2022 US Surgeon General's Mental Wellness NOW summit in Los Angeles, CA and giving the keynote address at the 2022 Behavioral Health Policy Annual Conference: Joint Impact, Innovation, and Transformation in Palm Springs, California, hosted by CBHA, CBHDA, and CIBHS).
  • Through these deep bonds, I have had countless opportunities to further the mission of NAMI by engaging in regular 1:1 and small group peer support and mentorship around mental health.
  • This year (2023), I published a piece on NAMI's blog ( about Brainstorm, the bipolar documentary we're making.
  • I will appear on Instagram live with a NAMI ambassador on 5/18/23, as part of MH Action Day, to dispel stigma and share actionable lessons.
  • I also plan to appear on NAMI's podcast this year.

Other Board Service: 

  • California Partners Project Board of Directors (Director, 2023-present)

Public Service:  

  • Acting California Surgeon General (7 months)
  • Chief Health Officer for the Office of the California Surgeon General (2019-2022)
  • Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative’s Prevention and Well-Being Working Group (2022)
  • California State Behavioral Health Task Force (2022)
  • California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research — California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine Advisory Group (2022)

Relationship to Mental Health:

  • Individual with first-person experience of mental health illness; Family member or direct/front-line support of someone with a mental health illness; Provider/mental health practitioner/employee in the field; Other professional; Non-profit advocate

Candidate Strengths Assessment

The candidate indicated they have experience in the following areas that will help NAMI achieve its mission and strategic goals:

  • Adult Education, Advocacy, Business/Nonprofit Leadership, Medicine, Mental Health Service/Support, Program Research/Evaluation, Research/Academia 

Estimated years of experience in the above areas:

  • Adult Education: 2009-present
  • Advocacy: 2016-present
  • Business/Nonprofit Leadership: 2022-present
  • Medicine: 2008-present
  • Mental Health Service/Support: 2013-present
  • Program Research/Evaluation: 2019-present
  • Research/Academia: 2008-present

The candidate indicated they have connections and networks in the following areas:

  • Lobbying, Politics/Elected Officials, Social Media, Traditional Media

Additional information about the connections and networks:

  • Mental health and medical communities

Candidate Leadership Style

The candidate indicated the following descriptors represent their leadership style:

  • Action-oriented, Consensus Builder, Data Driven, Innovator, Outcome-oriented, Peacemaker, Process Thinker, Risk Taker, Team Player

Candidate Narrative

The candidate indicated that they possess these specific strengths and attributes that the NAMI Board has identified as high priority for the 2023-2024 Board: 

  • Diversity of age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, language, experience, and national geography

I’m a pediatrician and public health leader on a mission to drive health innovation, equity, and resilience. By joining NAMI’s Board, I’d love to help advance the national conversation and structural environment for mental health—harnessing policy and cultural levers to ensure more equitable access to well-being for as many people as possible. My skills include vision, executive and collaborative leadership, non-profit governance, strategy, synthesis of key research, coalition-building, communications, writing, speaking, and advocacy. As a pediatrician, public health leader, Indian-American immigrant, parent, and person with bipolar disorder, I have seen firsthand how powerful policy and cultural levers can be in advancing resilience, while ensuring greater equity in outcomes. I’m also deeply committed to NAMI’s model, having been powerfully touched by it firsthand as a peer and family member. For example, our work on ACEs Aware at the Office of the California Surgeon General, where I served as Chief Health Officer (2019-2022) and Acting Surgeon General (2022), helped enable healing and resilience at scale. I’m also on a mission to help displace stigma and spread hope. To this end, I shared my journey with bipolar disorder while serving as California’s Acting Surgeon General. I’ve since built a community to share evidence-based well-being tools and insights from lived experience—through a newsletter ( and podcast/YouTube channel ( I believe there’s much unharnessed potential in our national approach to mental health to optimize well-being. Using my research, clinical, policy, and lived experiences lenses, I’d love to help NAMI advance this critical mission. 

I am deeply committed to advancing mental health and equity using cultural and systemic levers. Too many of us struggle to realize our potential because of structural hindrances to tools we need to stay well. Stigma and discrimination are pervasive, especially around serious mental illness, as are structural barriers, ranging from workforce challenges to cost.   I engage in this through frequent peer and family support and health policy consulting. I also seek to help change prevailing norms around mental illness through 1) a podcast/YouTube channel/newsletter on well-being, where I aim to democratize access to resilience tools, and 2) a documentary on bipolar disorder.

I have a track record of being a highly effective, collaborative team leader and mentor. I’ve led collaborative research efforts focused on youth mental health, gender-based stereotype threat, gender norms’ influence on health, and stress and resilience. I’ve also led the multi-pronged launch of California’s ACEs Aware $500 million initiative.   Throughout my career so far, I’ve prioritized mentorship. One mentee, student doctor Isha Pasumarthi, shared: “It is an absolute joy to learn from Dr. Bhushan. She is an ideal mentor ー persistent, brilliant, and uplifting. She puts her team first and is committed to helping those she works with grow, both personally and professionally.” 

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