The Ally
May 2019
The Families As Allies Newsletter


Every day I am struck by the opportunities that surround us.
May started with joining the City of Jackson to welcome Mental Health Awareness Month, followed by celebrating with children, families and friends at Fondren After FIve and many other events throughout the month. New initiatives to help families get the mental health support their children need and to find out the best ways to support more families began.

Great conversations occurred about working together to make our system grow. I saw families take risks with providers and providers take risks with families - and the risks seemed to lead to more trust.

There were also moments that gave me great pause. A group of families whose now adult children began having mental health problems in childhood asked to meet with me. I mostly just listened - in part because I really didn't know what to say. Words seemed hollow. I was so struck that although those families tried desperately to get help for their children when they were young, the right kind of help wasn't available in the right way at the right time. I'm still not sure it is.

It's wonderful to work together and be excited about all the good things that are happening.
We can and must continue to do that. But at the same time we cannot turn a blind eye to the needs that remain unmet or a deaf ear to the people who most need to be heard. It is those
people who can best lead us in the directions we most need to go.

P.S. Don't forget the Mississippi disABILITY Megaconference June 13 and 14.  Come visit our table and check out our session: 
Partnering in Your Child's Care: ADA, Olmstead and EPSDT - What Do These Mean to Me?





NAMI Mississippi
State Conference
Advocacy Panel

Shown above: Joy Hogge, Families as Allies, Ta'Shia Gordon, MS Attorney General's office, Zakiya Summers, ACLU of MS.

We were honor ed to be part of advocacy panel during the annual conference of
the National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mississippi (NAMI MS) on Friday, May 17.
We appreciate NAMI MS and its executive director, Tameka Tobias. 

Our advocacy update included these areas:
  1. Support for families of young children -We continue to expand our work in this area and asked audience members to help us connect with families of young children who might benefit from this support or be willing to give us feedback about what would be most helpful to them.
  2. Parent to parent peer support - We shared that in addition to creating the curriculum for and training the trainers of parent peer support in the mental health system, we are developing continuing education and ongoing coaching for parent peer support specialists and also expanding this work to other child serving systems. We also are very committed to supporting the young people who are developing youth peer support.  All of this work is based on a foundation of ensuring the system of care in Mississippi is family-driven
  3. A Family-Driven System of Care - We are very excited that the University of Maryland, as the technical assistance center for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is doing ongoing system of care training and invited Families as Allies to co-train on family driven practice. We look forward to  the reform this brings about and coordinating efforts with families, the Department of Mental Health, the Mississippi Wraparound Institute and other partners.
  4. The US Department of Justice lawsuit against Mississippi's mental health system - This lawsuit goes
    to trial June 4 in the courtroom of Judge Carlton Reeves. We urged the NAMI audience to be as informed and involved as possible and provided this written overview and update. We also encouraged open public dialog that allows all viewpoints to be
    shared without intimidation and the importance of clarifying information directly with the appropriate sources. 
Check out this blog post to learn more about what other panelists shared.

The US Department of Justice lawsuit against the Mississippi Mental Health System goes
to trial on June 4 in Judge Carlton Reeves courtroom. Click here or on the image above for a handout that gives more details.
Ask Us About CHAMP!

Dr. Dustin Sarver, left, and Dr. Philip Merideth are
co-investigators in the HRSA-funded study.

CHAMP (Child Access to Mental Health and Psychiatry) is a new project that will give primary health care providers working with children quick phone access to mental health experts. The project is funded by the  Health Resources and Services Administration and was awarded to the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.  

Families as Allies is a project partner.
We will be
assisting with an initial needs assessment, helping reach out to families and making sure all aspects of the project are family-driven.

We are thrilled to be a part of CHAMP and so glad it will increase families' access to mental health care in an integrated setting.  You can learn more about CHAMP here.

Leadership Training
for Families:
Watch our Facebook page
and email for upcoming trainings in Jackson, Meridian and Hattiesburg!

Thank you to the City of Jackson City Council and Mayor Mayor  Chokwe   Lumumba  for proclaiming May as Mental Health  Month for the CIty of Jackson. Y ou can read his proclamation here. We also appreciate  Mayor Lumumba's and First Lady Ebony Lumumba's ongoing passion for children's mental  health and serving as spokespeople for our infant and  early childhood   mental   health  awareness campaign .  

The City partnered with Families as Allies to display a children mental health awareness banner at the Pearl St. gateway entrance into the City and also hosted a banner on its website home page. More than 50,000 people have been exposed to positive messages about children's mental health and supporting families as a result.

And a big shout out to all the City employees who wore green in honor of Children's Mental Health Awareness Day!

What a joyful evening!  Thank you to all the families and children who joined us to celebrate Children's Mental Health Awareness at Fondren After Five.  Check out more photos here. 

We are grateful to all of our partners, not just for joining us but for all the ways we work together and partner with families and children throughout the year.  Please thank them as well and take a minute to visit their websites: 
Canopy Children's SolutionsCatholic CharitiesCentene,
Center for the Advancement of YouthCity of JacksonEarly Childhood  Academy,  Families First for MSFamily Voices of MSGrowing  Up KnowingHinds Behavioral Health ServicesJackson Public SchoolsMagnolia HealthcareMethodist Children's Homes of MSMississippi Attorney General's Office, Mississippi Behavioral Health Services,  Mississippi Community Engagement Center,  Mississippi Department of Child Protection ServicesMississippi Department of Education Office of Special EducationMississippi Department of HealthMississippi Families for KidsMS Parent Training and Information Center/ MS Coalition for Citizens with DisabilitiesNAMI MSNFusion Metro/Hinds Behavioral HealthSouthern Christian ServicesYouth Villages

A Very Special  Thank You  to Fondren Renaissance Foundation and Jim Wilkirson and his team, as well as to the merchants of Fondren. And of course we thank all of you for attending and supporting this event for the past five years.

Do you have ideas about how to make Children's Mental Health Awareness in MAY 2020 even bigger and better?  We want to hear from you, especially families. Share your thoughts by calling us at 601-355-0915 or emailing


Thank you to Gulf Coast Family Counseling and the Mental Health Association of South Mississippi for including us in this wonderful evening! It was great to visit with so many people and families!


We are delighted that our partnership with the Mississippi Wraparound Institute (MWI) continues to grow. The partnership began by Families as Allies joining the institute as co-trainers for Introduction to Wraparound.

This past quarter Families as Allies began  providing
training and support at quarterly stakeholder meetings
as well as co-training wraparound facilitators and their supervisors at three session in Jackson, Hattiesburg and Oxford. We are especially excited that families joined these trainings to share their real world experiences and insights about wraparound.

We are thankful to the Wraparound Institute for this opportunity and grateful to both families and the
providers for their openness and candor.  We began gathering data (using questions designed by families)
from facilitators about what would most help them in
this work.  There have also been some meaningful and touching insights shared at the trainings.  

We look forward to wherever to the new insights and ideas that will come from this journey so that wraparound can work as effectively as possible for as many families as possible. 

Families - do you want to know more about what you should be able to expect from the Wraparound process?  Check out this Wraparound Handbook for Families.




To ALL the moms out there - 

To the moms who are with their children today and whose hearts are filled with joy and peace,
To the moms who are with their children but
still feel heartache,

To the moms whose children are not
living with them, 

To the moms who have lost their children to suicide, mental illness or violence, 
To the moms who are not quite sure they
want to be moms,
To the moms who have become moms to
children not born to them -
Our hearts are with you, today and
every day. 

We will stand with you,
today and every day.

❤️   ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️