July 2015 Newsletter!
Survey Results

Thanks For Giving Us Your Input!  We Heard From You and Your Opinion Matters!


Thank you to everyone who participated in our 30 second online survey last month in which we asked: "What would you fix about the Mental Health System in California if you had a magic wand?" and "What change would make a difference for you or a loved one?" We got a ton of responses!

So what did you say? The issue people wanted to fix with a magic wand most often is the access to quality, affordable mental health care. There were a variety of responses as to what would make a big change for people, but one of the things we heard often was "Affordable and Stable Housing and Services."  


Both of these issues and the others we heard about (including Criminal Justice, Cultural Competence, and Effective Medication among many others) are key in the work NAMI California is doing within our advocacy, programs and services.

This year's conference will feature many speakers and workshops on these very topics and many more, learn more about that here .


Tell us more!


Click here to take a new 30 second survey


¿Qué es NAMI De Familia a Familia? NAMI De Familia a Familia es un programa de 12 clases de educación gratis para miembros de la familia de los adultos que viven con una enfermedad mental. En este programa, el término familia es visto desde una perspectiva amplia que incluye padres, hermanos, esposos/as, hijos adultos e hijas, socios y pareja.


El curso está diseñado para ayudar a todos los miembros de la familias a comprender y apoyar a su ser querido que sufre de una enfermedad mental y mantener su propio bienestar.

boardGet to know your Board 
Guy C. Qvistgaard, M.S., M.F.T.


Administrator, John George Psychiatric Hospital
Alameda Health System


With more than 16 years of experience in hospital operations and 33 years in the behavioral health arena, Guy Qvistgaard is a thought leader in the field of acute psychiatric care administration. He is hospital administrator of John George Psychiatric Hospital (JGPH), a nationally-recognized acute psychiatric care facility located in San Leandro, California. JGPH is part of the Alameda Health System (AHS), a public health system and award-winning provider of world-class care, with 475 beds and 500 physicians at six major facilities throughout Alameda County, California. 


At JGPH, Guy Qvistgaard supports the overall mission of AHS by emphasizing the use of data, evidenced-based practice and leading edge training to change culture and produce results. He and his team are influenced by leaders in behavioral health including the work of the renowned psychotherapists Steve de Shazer and his wife Insoo Kim Berg, who pioneered a technique called Solution-Focused Brief Therapy for public psychiatric facilities. Since joining AHS in January of 2010, he has implemented a blended form of brief therapy with newer techniques to drive improved results at JGPH.


When Mr. Qvistgaard arrived at JGPH, the facility was experiencing approximately 30 incidents of seclusion and restraint per 1000 patient days (PDs). By April 2012 it has been reduced to less than five incidents per 1000 PDs. This achievement aligns the facility with best practices in psychiatric hospitals nationally.


Mr. Qvistgaard also upgraded patient surroundings and engaged behavioral health providers in community outreach. He improved the patient experience, instituting an effective patient engagement initiative that included extensive staff training in verbal de-escalation techniques. His focus on staff training and staff/patient collaboration has increased patient satisfaction and employee engagement throughout the facility.


In addition, he installed a labyrinth in the facility courtyard for patient use and meditation, increased chaplain hours and enhanced collaboration with patients' rights advocates. He has also increased the number of grants and funding through a renewed focus on grant application.


Mr. Qvistgaard's vast experience includes both private and public sector activity including managing confidential employee assistance programs for large corporations. In March, 2012, he was elected to the California Hospital Association's (CHA) Center for Behavioral Health (CBH) Advisory Board. He will serve a 3-year term on the CBH Advisory Board, an advisory body that provides direct input to the CHA Board of Trustees on issues of importance to behavioral health providers.


For 13 years prior to joining AHS, Mr. Qvistgaard was an operations executive throughout the Adventist Health System in California, including Loma Linda Medical Center. Most recently, he served as senior vice president of operations at St. Helena Hospital in Napa County, California.



Mr. Qvistgaard holds a Master of Science Degree in counseling from San Diego State University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in psychology from the University of California, San Diego.  He is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

mh101Affiliate Spotlight:    NAMI North Coastal


San Diego County's Twilight Resource Fair 



Begun as a way to introduce the ever growing array of new Behavioral Health Services to the NAMI North Coastal membership, the 3rd Annual Resource Fair has proved to be a fun as well as therapeutic evening on the third Thursday in July. It is held on the same date as our regular monthly meeting except that it is installed out of doors under the trees around the edge of the lovely patio that adjoins The Parish Hall of St Michael's Episcopal Church, our meeting place for the last 30 years.


In addition to giving us free space the church is providing our NAMI Affiliate with the proceeds of their Spring Fiesta and Fall Wine Tasting, further cementing our long term relationship.


Starting in 2013 our first Resource Fair brought us our initial 17 providers. We reached 23 in 2015. Each year we have been able to grow the venue in different ways. This year, since this is an event that takes place from 6-8:30pm, after work and during the dinner hour, we decided to make a special effort to provide more food. So in came the gaily decorated popcorn cart with its bags of freshly made popcorn, a large tray of antipasti, lots of pink lemonade, fresh veggie plates and of course cookies.


Next year we hope to open our arms so to speak to the general public, making a joyful noise unto the Lord as well as to the coastal communities of North County. With the current emphasis on stress reduction, integration of physical with mental health services and collaboration with faith communities we feel we are well poised for the future.


The mission of NAMI North Coastal is to inspire and support those with brain disorders and their families. To educate and inform the community and to erase stigma.  As an all volunteer organization with a paid part time office manager we have worked hard to make free classes available to both  parents and peers, and to attract local Behavioral Health Services to North County that were formerly based only in the City of San Diego. With over a million residents now living in northern San Diego County we have our work cut out for us and the Twilight Resource Fair we hope will spread our message far and wide.  




Eugenia Cervantes

Membership Coordinator


Eugenia Cervantes is the Membership Coordinator with NAMI California and has been with us for almost three years. Eugenia has many responsibilities within our office. She oversees the processing and completeness of our massive membership database, keeping it running smoothly and the information up to date. This requires working not only with our database, but also the National database to reconcile information each month.


Eugenia is also heading up the Re-affiliation process here and is the Affiliate Liaison, so she helps to answer questions and concerns which come up in that process (and there are a lot).

She also manages Data Accounts Receivable, making sure membership dues are properly applied to memberships. Finally, Eugenia also keeps an eye on the voting process for NAMI California, she will be at the conference to get those last votes in and counted!


Eugenia lives in Sacramento, CA with her husband and two children.

You can contact Eugenia at Eugenia@namica.org    


Conference2015 National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month - July


Hector Ramirez:  His Personal Story


There is strength in standing out from others in the community and forging a different path. Dr. Hector Ramirez is one such person who inspires his community members simply by being his own person and overcoming the obstacles on his wellness journey, while maintaining mental health on his own terms.


Dr. Ramirez, who eventually was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and falls on the Autism Spectrum, described the most difficult stages of his journey in an interview:

"The way that my most difficult time looked like, it really felt and looked like everyone was quiet," Dr. Ramirez said. "I couldn't feel the people around me...It felt like I was walking in a city of statues, or people just standing there, not saying anything, or looking at me. It really felt like I was in a completely different place and I wanted out of there badly. I wanted out of there at all cost. I don't remember ever feeling so different and so alone than I did that time."


Dr. Ramirez described his journey to wellness as including a wealth of options for him to find the best fit for himself. Once he found a doctor who wanted to provide him the most beneficial treatment options for his particular needs, recovery seemed well within reach.

"One of the things that I would really want to tell members of the Native American community who don't seek help is that hope is never-ending," Dr. Ramirez said. "If one feels like there is nothing that will make it better again, I want them to recognize there is; go to a doctor -  don't go to a doctor looking for meds, go to a doctor looking for hope . . . look for someone that prescribes hope, whether it be a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, social worker, or a doorman."


By embracing his own strengths and unique qualities, Dr. Ramirez was able to achieve recovery and find his place in the community.


"I've really learned how important my heritage is," Dr. Ramirez said. "I have met other Two Spirits that have gone through similar situations, or that are going through the similar situations, and it's important for them to realize that our culture is valuable ... We have a long standing tradition within our community; we play an important role. I am with my family whenever a child is born, whether they're my immediate family, or not. I'm there when somebody dies. I help to initiate the talking circles - That's a big honor for me. All their children are my children."


Today Dr. Ramirez is an active member of his community, connected with his family, biological and lateral, and serves on the board of NAMI San Fernando Valley as Vice President, helps organize NAMI Walks for San Fernando Valley, and currently holds the honor of serving as Ambassador for the Special Olympics this year in Los Angeles.

"By getting help," Dr. Ramirez said, "you're showing that you are committed to your community, you're committed to your future, you're not giving up on yourself and you're not giving up on them."



Affiliates at Work for Minority Mental Health Awareness:

NAMI Urban Los Angeles


In celebration of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI Urban Los Angeles (NUMA) is partnering with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. to honor Sandy Banks, Jackie Lacey, and Nolan Rollins for their work in the community, on July 18th, 2015, at NUMA's annual luncheon commemorating the life and work of the late Bebe Moore Campbell.


Bebe Moore Campbell dedicated her life to eliminate mental health stigma in underserved communities through her work as a journalist, author and co-founder of NUMA. NUMA will be utilizing this fundraiser luncheon to help continue their work providing mental health education and facilitating dialogue to dispel the stigma of mental illness in local minority communities.


The luncheon will take place in the covered gardens of Bebe Moore Campbell, and is hosted by her husband, Ellis Gordon, Jr, and features entertainment by R&B Group the 7th Avenue Band. For more information or tickets, visit www.namiurbanla.org online, or call 323-294-7814.

What Else is Going on at the Conference?

Meet Waynee Lucero:  NAMI Advocate and Speaker at our Statewide Conference


It's difficult to create and maintain sustainable,  positive change without strong allies and advocates.  This is especially true in our fight for resources and insurance coverage parity for mental health challenges.


Waynee Lucero from Covered California knows all about the importance of being an ally in her role in External Affairs at California Health Benefit Exchange (Covered California).


Waynee,  along with Andrew Sperling,  Director of Legislative Advocacy, NAMI National, will be speaking at the Statewide conference on up to date advocacy and policy issues affecting mental health on the California Statewide and National levels.


With a strong interest in helping people, and helping to make an impact on public policy in numerous ways,  Waynee Lucero has formerly worked as a Program Manager for the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce on an Outreach and Education grant from Covered California.  There,  she managed a $600,000 statewide grant that provided information about Covered California for Small Business.  Waynee moved to Sacramento from San Diego in 2013.  While in San Diego, she worked for a Congressional Representative, the Mayor of San Diego, and a local labor union.  Waynee's community involvement includes serving as President of the Chicano Democratic Association from 2009-2013, as well as Volunteer Coordinator for Alejandra Sotelo-Solis Campaigns for National City Mayor and National City Council. Waynee earned her BA in Political Science/International Relations from UC San Diego in 2008.


Come hear Waynee Lucero and other inspirational speakers at our Statewide Conference August 21st and 22nd in Newport Beach, CA.


JulyNAMI In-Depth:  Family to Family


Thousands of families describe NAMI's Family-to-Family program as a "life changer".  That's because the free 12 week course is designed to help the entire family - parents, siblings, partners and significant others understand and support their loved one who is living with a mental illness as well as maintaining their own well-being.


The Family-to-Family course is taught by trained teachers who are also family members and know what its like to have a loved one living with a mental illness.  Families learn important information about such illnesses as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, and perhaps more importantly, have the opportunity to share and learn from peers in a safe and comforting environment.


If you've attended Family-to-Family in the past, chances are you might learn something new if you enrolled again.  The course includes the most current information and research available about the major mental illnesses.  As research is constant and treatments are always improving, the NAMI Family-to-Family course is ever evolving and includes up to date ideas and strategies for effective pathways to treatment. 


Updated classes about empathy, resources in the community, and guidance in locating appropriate supports and services and tips to advocate for those services are part and parcel of the course and families find this helpful in dealing with an ever changing healthcare support landscape.


And of course, the most current strategies, tips and resources to help the entire family is the hallmark of Family-to-Family.


If you have never attended a course, we invite you to do so.  If you haven't been to a class, we invite you to check it out.  You can find information about your local affiliate at www.namica.org

July 6 Conference Tracks you Can Choose From:



Criminal Justice
We are excited to bring Crisis Intervention Team expert, Major (ret.) Sam Cochran to our conference. Learn about how CIT is changing Law Enforcement and its relationship to Mental Illness.
Families and Consumers
Share and learn from Families and Individuals living with Mental Illness. As well as research being done on the family at the national and international level with Dr. Beardslee.

Strengthening NAMI
NAMI Affiliates across the state serve their communities in a variety of ways. Learn from our most successful affiliates about what they've done!


Multicultural Engagement
California is a huge and diverse state, come share in the discussion and learning about how make sure disparities in service are eliminated!
Youth and Mental Illness
Learn about the great ways Youth and being engaged in the discussion around Mental Illness!
Learn more about your rights and how to advocate at the state local and national levels.

JulyMeet Your New NAMI CA Board Candidates!


You have the opportunity to vote for our new Board Members.   Please visit this page to see their statements and backgrounds for serving on the Board:  Click Here to Learn More!  


Get familiar with them so you can help shape our work for NAMI California's future and make your vote count.  Voting will begin soon.


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