Children's Mental Health Spring Advocacy Day

As we gear up for Mental Health Matters Day tomorrow, we want to highlight our Children's Mental Health Spring Advocacy Day that took place earlier this month.

On May 1, 2018, NAMI California joined the California Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry for our 9th annual collaboration. Collectively we met with 50 Senate and Assembly offices in Sacramento and were able to hear from Senator Beall (Chair, Mental Health Caucus) and Assembly Member Wood (Chair, Asm Health Committee). Both representatives talked about the importance of school based mental health services. The groups consisted of family members (NAMI) and providers (CALACAP). The unique perspectives from both family members and providers have been powerful in working to influence policy.  

Our focus for the day was children’s mental health, including school based services and proposals that address and support students' mental health. SB 968 (Pan) will require the California State Universities and the California Community Colleges to hire one full time equivalent licensed mental health counselor per 1,000 students.  

The group also advocated for Senate Bill 1125 (Atkins) to improve access to mental health care in impoverished communities. Multiple studies have demonstrated the value of integrated health care, particularly when it comes to mental health. SB 1125 will require the state to allow Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Centers to bill Medi-Cal for two visits if a patient is provided mental health services on the same day they receive other medical services. Currently within California, FQHCs and RHCs can bill for two separate Medi-Cal visits in the same day if it is a dental provider.

Other issues discussed with the legislators include homeless individuals with mental illness and the high population of individuals with mental illness in juvenile halls and jails. 

These issues continue to reach across party lines, as we spoke with both Democrat and Republican legislators. For a full bill list, including the bills we advocated for at this event, click here.

Stories of Resilience: Zuleima Flores Abid

For Mental Health Month, we sat down with NAMI California staff and NAMI members to film their stories and find out what recovery means to them. Our very own NAMI CA Programs Manager Zuleima Flores Abid tells her story about the intricate role her family has played throughout her recovery with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression.

Stay connected to our #31DaysofRecovery blog to follow this series.

Recovery Focus: Peer Support Specialists

Many individuals who have built resilience on the path to recovery find empowerment and meaning through using their own personal experience to help others. Individuals with a lived experience of mental illness are profoundly suited to provide powerful guidance to others on a similar journey. Research shows that the use of peer support specialists in a treatment protocol helps to reduce hospitalizations, improve functioning, increase satisfaction, and alleviate depression among patients.

For these and other reasons, we have chosen to highlight SB 906 this May.  SB 906 is a critical piece of legislation that allows qualified peer providers – people who have lived experience as clients, family members, or caretakers of individuals recovering from mental illness or addiction – to be certified by the state to deliver services to other individuals with such disorders

Add your voice in support of SB 906 – legislation that not only honors the importance of lived experience, but also creates long-term sustainable employment for individuals on their own path to recovery. Visit our SB 906 Action Center to learn more about SB 906, peer certification, and how you can help!

Inspire Hope with Each Mind Matters Message Cards

So much of our ability to be resilient when affected by mental illness comes from treating ourselves and loved ones with compassion and inspiring hope. Each Mind Matters has affirmation/ support message cards to give to friends or loved ones, or even to keep for yourself, to lend that positive message of support when things become difficult. 



Stories of Resilience: Jessica Cruz

For Mental Health Month, we sat down with NAMI California staff and NAMI members to film their stories and find out what recovery means to them. We launch our Stories of Resilience video series with our very own NAMI CA CEO Jessica Cruz. Jessica tells the story of how she and her mother, who has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, have each managed to be resilient in the ups and down of her mother's recovery journey.

Keep checking the #31DaysofRecovery blog for future videos in this series.

Stories of Resilience: Pamela Weston

No Place Like Home

Writing these words are the scariest thing I have ever done but most necessary because if it had not been for NAMI I was going to end my life. No one can ever know the scream inside that haunts me. I have suffered in Silence. Today it is my hope that my story will help others use their voices to change how we do things in our communities and counties. On May 11 2016 my brother Shawn committed suicide. I speak truth to power so I can help others see what needs to change in our communities. NAMI has given me the strength and ability to advocate in the worst part of my life so I could know what to do when things got overwhelming and my family needed help and no one was listening. My mom has suffered so much pain from the trauma of what she experienced in dealing with how she was treated when trying to get my brother Robert help as he suffered with ALS and was disregarded and my mom was disrespected by the Hospital which made my brother become hopeless and eventually hospitalized for suicide ideations. My mom was not listened to and suffered so much distress as she witnessed my brother become more hopeless.

I felt so alone and when I was ready to give up to a miracle happened. On a flyer someone had placed in a coffee shop was the information for a NAMI Family to Family training. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was able to help my mom learn through my training to create a crisis file, ask for release of information and help my mom obtain an advance directive. My brother was committed to a state hospital because of never being given proper diagnosis but because of my brother and moms's advocacy was released four months before he died so he could die with honor as a Veteran in a soldier's home. We are so thankful that we had the ability through what NAMI taught us to help my brother. For my son Christopher and brother Shawn the happiest time in their lives when I was able to teach them through the Peer to Peer training I co-facilitated. For the first time they were able to recognized the power of their story and share the stigmas they experienced from how others viewed them through their disability. My son died August 1, 2014 from a train hitting him. That is when I began to realize how important it is for us to advocate for change in how we do things in our counties. Some things can never be learned except through lived experience.

As I begin to experience the trauma of loss I began to become involved in community and civic engagement in Monterey county and recognized the need for culturally relevant strength based community services and support . The issue is that it invest in peer led communities and relationships instead of data driven disparities. When I needed this most is when I have asked for community as first response training and a ethnic services and peer support . As my daughter has increasingly suffered from cycling and decompensating i once again have to recognize a need for change and call to action. There has to be community based , family and peer led oversight and accountability and reporting to reflect how innovative funding is being invested in changes that work because without thins changing my daughter like so many others are unable to live with a quality of life and at risk of human trafficking and death . I am so thankful to those who created the Alliance to work collaboratively towards change . I have learned it doesn't get better--we learn to do it different. For me I am blessed because when I feel alone, NAMI gives me the strength I need to get through. I will start training on May 22 to learn how to work as a peer. I told my mom that I would share our story because even though my brother died in May his journey as a peer would help save lives and share his message.

#FeatureFriday Affiliates: NAMI El Dorado County and South Lake Tahoe High School NAMI On Campus Club

For #FeatureFriday, we're featuring NAMI El Dorado County and South Lake Tahoe High School's NAMI On Campus: Brain Health Leadership club.  together they hosted a fair to promote mental health awareness. #31DaysofRecovery continues for Mental Health Month!

"The students at South Tahoe High School (STHS) hosted their first Mental Health Faire on campus for both students and staff during school on Monday, May 7.

A new club on campus started by the El Dorado County chapter of The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) organized the event, bringing the community and school together to help reduce the stigma of mental illness. Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) in the U.S. experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.

'It was fantastic to see students asking questions, getting information and participating in such a positive way,' said STHS Principal Carline Sinkler.

NAMI On Campus: Brain Health Leadership club is one of the fastest growing clubs the school has ever had, with dozens of students meeting weekly after getting the new group together this year under the guidance of Jeanne Nelson, NAMI President, NAMI El Dorado County." 

Read the full article from South Tahoe Now

Read more on NAMI El Dorado County's website!

What does recovery mean to you?

We asked our staff what recovery means to them, and NAMI California Executive Assistant Judy Gion shared this quote that resonates with her and helps her feel grounded:


"Have patience with all things, but first with yourself.

Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being.

You’re a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist.

And no amount of triumphs and tribulations can ever change that.

Unconditional self-acceptance is the core of a peaceful mind."

- St. Francis de Sales


What does recovery mean to you? Sound off in the comments or email us a personal story, resource, or favorite quote at 



NAMI Urban Los Angeles

NAMI Urban Los Angeles has partnered with several community organizations for an Each Mind Matters Wellness Fair in commemoration of Mental Health Month on Saturday, May 26th, in Leimert Park in Los Angeles. Join NAMI Urban LA advocates (including NAMI California Board Member Harold Turner) for a panel on "Mental Health and Communities of Color: A Candid Conversation to Educate, Empower, and Spread Awareness." Plus workshops, health screenings, food, live music, Kids Zone, prizes, and more! #31DaysofRecovery

Stories of Resilience: Emily Wu Truong

The move from Arkansas to California, took a drastic toll on Emily’s physical and mental well-being. She struggled to fit in and was constantly bullied by her classmates. From her childhood into her teen years, Emily experienced feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anxiousness, lack of motivation, and suicidal thoughts. In the summer of 2013, Emily explained that she felt as if her “Spirit was crushed” and had an “overwhelming sense of rejection come over her.” When she took on two part time jobs, Emily felt as if she had been under-appreciated and taken for granted. The circumstances had emotionally triggered something inside her, leaving her with a loss of self-hope and aimlessness.

When Emily returned from college, her parents had no idea that she was depressed. Emily said in an interview, “I felt so much shame. I was not proud of myself for not being able to be as “successful” as others would expect me to be…I felt as I had nothing going on in my life.”

In 2013 Emily received the news of her diagnoses of depression and anxiety. She was relieved because finally she was able to get the help that she needed. Unfortunately, once she disclosed the mental health condition, Emily faced strong community stigma. While visiting and confiding with a former teacher who taught psychology and peer counseling, Emily explained her feelings of “frustration” and being “misunderstood.” However, instead of the teacher providing support, Emily soon found out that she was seen as the “crazy lady.” The pain of being misunderstood hurt Emily but did not keep her from finding support.

However, Emily soon found her voice as she became involved in multiple NAMI programs including In Our Own Voice, Ending the Silence, and Parents & Teachers As Allies programs. In an interview she stated:

“NAMI has surely provided me with the platform to share my story, and I always have a cathartic feeling each time I go up in front of an audience. My partnership with NAMI has become so meaningful to share the message that with help, there is hope, and that being diagnosed with a mental illness is not a death sentence.”

In 2015 she received the Woman of the Year Award from Senator Ed Hernandez and her whole family from Taiwan attended to celebrate her award and achievements to reduce the stigma around mental health and mental illness in her local community. Emily is one of the leading advocates in mental health and recognized motivational speaker.

For Emily the road to recovery is based on strong support from many people in her community. Despite her initial circumstances, Emily takes those experiences and helped to redraw a way to help those affected mental health conditions. To this day, the passion Emily has is present both in her outer fashion for mental health as well as her inner beauty for helping communities from all over the United States.

Below is beautiful story of resilience from NAMI San Luis Obispo County Vice President Donna Klein. NAMI SLOCO's Beautiful Minds Rally and Walkathon is tomorrow and funds raised allow NAMI SLOCO to continue serving the community through support groups, educational programs, and advocacy.The event will include a wellness fair, silent auction, speakers, entertainment, and an easy one-mile walk through Meadow Park suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 

"My healing and recovery are largely attributed to the invaluable opportunities that NAMI of San Luis Obispo County has provided me.

Prior to being introduced to NAMI's programs, I struggled with chronic depression and anxiety. I received my mental health diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in 2005 - eleven years after losing my beloved late husband to metastatic cancer. As a young widow, I participated in several different bereavement groups and even attended a variety of "Recovery Anonymous" meetings. I continuously found myself lost and confused with these experiences due to the stigma I encountered once it became known in these groups that I was suffering with mental health symptoms. Although it seemed impossible to find at the time, I was in great search of a group that made sense to me and would set me on the path to recovery.

When I first attended NAMI's free "Peer to Peer" group - I instantly knew that I had finally found my place in this world. I was very comfortable being amongst those who had also been highly challenged with symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition to learning so much about mental health and well-being, I developed a wonderful social network of peers to connect with whenever I just needed to "bend an ear" or reach for a compassionate hand. I also discovered that I had a lot to give to others in need of emotional support and encouragement."

Read the rest of Donna's story on the NAMI SLOCO Beautiful Minds Rally and Walkathon Fundraising Site.