August 04, 2015

By Valerie Denis

1NAMI Mt San Jacinto Resources FairLooking back at the past month of support and collaboration, it is unbelievable how much was accomplished in July alone. NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates, members and allies across the country took on the challenges of mental health conditions in minority populations. Passion, creativity, partnership and an unwavering dedication to raising awareness about disparities were the hallmarks of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (NMMHAM). I’m excited to spotlight a few of the various July events, big and small, that took place in the spirit of collaboration, equity and hope.

At NAMI’s 2015 National Convention in San Francisco, there were many inspiring and informational multicultural sessions including:

  • A symposium about reducing mental health disparities.
  • Poster sessions about partnering with multicultural communities and organizations.
  • Workshops on preventing suicide in LGBTQ youth.  
  • Workshops on learning more about what depression looks like for black gay men.
  • Networking and sharing opportunities.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA), one of NAMI’s national partners, had a strong presence throughout the convention. They helped to support us and demonstrate how NAMI as an organization can expand our reach and build an inclusive movement. The following week, NAMI was proud to participate in AKA’s Leadership Seminar in Chicago where AKA and NAMI members—including NAMI Executive Director, Mary Giliberti—line danced for hours to raise mental health awareness and decrease stigma.

It brings me joy to highlight some of the tireless efforts by NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates to commemorate NMMHAM. Looking at the various types of events they hosted, it’s clear that it can be educational and fun to change the lives of those who need it.

  • NAMI Santa Clara County (Calif.) held a wellness art fair for their Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Around 50 people took part in art therapy presentations, Chinese brush painting exercises and more.
  • NAMI NYC Metro (N.Y.) organized a #IWillListen community mental health fair, which connected attendees to on-site mental health screenings and consultations.
  • NAMI Lane County (Ore.) hosted a ‘Hope Starts with You’ symposium to start the conversation about mental health with their local minority communities.
  • NAMI Mt. San Jacinto (Calif.) hosted a youth-friendly mental health resource fair for over 200 individuals in the Latino community.NAMI Utah’s NMMHAM picnic involved dancers and music from diverse communities
  • NAMI Beaufort County (S.C.) worked with local AKA chapter Nu Delta Omega to host a minority mental health information workshop.
  • NAMI Utah hosted a picnic with a special appearance by the Assistant Director of the state Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division. His speech about the importance of mental health in minority populations was simultaneously translated into five different languages including: Spanish, Nepalese, Somali, Swahili and French.
  • NAMI Sacramento (Calif.) organized “Pathways to a Healthy Mind,” a health fair for various racial and ethnic groups, as well as transitional agedyouth, LGBTQ and veterans.
  • NAMI Wisconsin partnered with AKA to organize a flash mob to raise awareness around mental health at Capital Square.
  • NAMI Southwestern Illinois hosted a community mental health wellness fair and BBQ event for 120 people.
  • NAMI New Orleans presents: Riding Halley's Comet, a playNAMI Central Louisiana held a NAMI FaithNet presentation and breakfast for faith leaders of all denominations.
  • NAMI New Orleans staged showings of the play, Riding Halley’s Comet. Nearly 300 people attended the play by Ann McQueen based on true events of a person’s experience with a parent living with a mental health condition.

These are just a few of the terrific events that were held nationwide during July. We hope that advocacy and health promotion efforts like these extend beyond the July celebrations into every month until all people the same access and opportunities for recovery and wellness.

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