March 31, 2017

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While we were hoping that this  edition of the NAMI E-News would have details of the final state budget, it looks like the budget will be delayed this year. However, we do have word that our advocacy voices were heard in the Capitol, and that the state will be investing in the mental health workforce. This is a major victory for mental health advocates and we thank the many of you who spoke up on this vital issue. This is the second week in a row we have reason to celebrate our advocacy efforts after last week's no vote on the American Health Care Act. We are still waiting to hear about other details about our legislative priorities, and this issue has several stories on the need to improve the mental illness-criminal justice interface.

We also want to again draw your attention to the new NAMI-NYS Ribbon Campaign section of the E-News. The campaign is another opportunity for our members and readers to raise awareness of mental health in your community.

As always, we want to know about the work you are doing. Please email with details and pictures about your work. This way we can feature it in the E-News and print Newsletter. Showcasing your work will allow others to learn from you, and that's the best way we can grow together as an organization. 

Hope Starts With You!
NAMI-NYS and Our Advocacy Coalition Appear to Score Major Victory With A Serious Investment in the Mental Health Workforce

As we go to print, our state executive and legislative leaders are still negotiating a final state budget. However, one thing the leaders seem to agree on is the need to invest in the mental health workforce. Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate President John Flanagan and Senate Independent Democratic Caucus Leader Jeffrey Klein, took a break from negotiations to announce a commitment to the workforce that cares for people with a mental illness in residential and other community based programs. The announcement came after a couple of weeks of intense advocacy efforts by a coalition of mental health and substance abuse advocates, which NAMI-NYS played an active role in. 

NAMI-NYS staff participated in coalition meetings with almost every legislative office, Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Program Counsel. NAMI-NYS staff and board members told their stories to various media outlets and you our grassroots leaders flooded the Capitol with phone calls. We are grateful to the leaders for listening to our pleas and to all of you who made your voices heard on this important issue.
It looks as if the New York State will be investing to give direct care workers in non-profit facilities working with the Office of Mental Health a 3.5% increase in January, 2018 and another 3.5% increase in April 2018. This investment will surely help address the difficulties providers are having hiring and retaining qualified and caring staff which are vital to the type of continuity of care NAMI-NYS believes is integral to recovery.

We are still waiting to learn more details about what may be included for other priority issues including investments in Crisis Intervention Teams and raising the age of criminal responsibility. We will be sending out an analysis of the final budget agreement. 

Girl Scouts Troops to Make NAMI-NYS Ribbon Campaign
Their Annual Service Project

On March 25 th , Girl Scouts from Service Unit 191 of the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York gathered to prepare for May's Ribbon Awareness Campaign, which they have adopted as their annual service project.  NAMI-NYS staff members Christine Rickeman and Wendy Burch talked to the girls about mental illness and how NAMI assists individuals with mental health issues and their families.  

The girls also participated in exercises designed to illustrate what it was like to live with mental illness.  Christine and Wendy described the campaign to the girls, and the older scouts had the opportunity to practice tying ribbons.  Each troop received a roll of ribbon and packets to distribute to local schools, businesses, churches, municipal offices and other organizations, as well as talking points to use when approaching potential community partners to hang ribbons.  The scouts were enthusiastic and are excited to reach out to the public and raise awareness about mental illness. 

Be sure to view the NAMI Ribbon Campaign in the E-News to learn more and bring the initiative to your community. 

NAMI Westchester Continues to Make Inroads with College Students and Holds NAMIWalks Kickoff Event

March 29th was a busy day for NAMI-Westchester. First, the affiliate's executive director Sharon McCarthy met with the Westchester Community College NAMI on Campus to discuss advocacy and how they could get involved on key issues.  Everyone was encouraged to not only continue to reach out to their government representatives but to also talk to family & friends in other states to encourage them to vote for mental health.
That evening, the affiliate held their NAMI Walk Kick Off event sponsored by TD Bank.  More than 75 people attended and enjoyed the musical talents of Jeff Zitofsky.  Frank Cebone, from All State Air Control, received the Community Spirit Award for his commitment to NAMI Westchester's NAMI Walk and the many hours he has dedicated to help towards it success.  Joe Fusaro, an Ending the Silence young adult presenter, spoke on the formation of his team for this year's walk.  Diane Cusumano, team captain for Mental Health Warriors, shared suggestions on how to organize team events to raise funds. Several new teams signed up at the event as well.  NAMIWalks Westchester will take place on May 20 at the Rye Town Park in Rye.

New York State Senator Elaine Phillips Participates in NAMI Queens/Nassau
NAMIWalks Kickoff Event

NAMI Queens/Nassau extends a big thank you to State Senator Elaine Phillips who presented NAMI-QN with a proclamation at their NAMIWalks Kick-Off on Thursday March 16th at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock.  Senator Phillips congratulated the affiliate on the good work that they do and expressed her appreciation for their commitment to the cause of those affected by severe mental illness. She also shared that she has a sister disabled by schizophrenia, so NAMI's good work is very personal for her. 
The presentation was an inspirational start for their NAMIWalks Kick-Off. The affiliate also acknowledges their NAMIWalks manager, Natasha Edwards, NAMIWalks Kick-Off planning committee, Ellen Ritz, Carol Ann Viccora, and Janet Susin, and all the team captains, participants and guests who attended.  A special thank you to their guest speakers, Furwa Hussain from Team Who Is Hussain and Nkenge Gilliam, President of AKA-Theta Iota Omega-IFSNC chapter who put a face on our theme of diversity.
The NAMI Queens/Nassau NAMIWalk (LINK IT) will be taking place on May 5th.

NAMI Huntington Holds Event on Solitary Reform

Lorenzo Steele Jr. is a visual artist and a former Rikers Island Corrections Officer.
He presented at NAMI Huntington about his experience working at Rikers Island. He displayed photos and a door from a solitary cell .Lorenzo also explained about mental health issues at Rikers and the consequences of using solitary confinement for adolescents. 

You could read more about this issue in the New York News section.

NAMI We Are a Movement

One of the latest NAMI blogs explains how we are a movement. Our movement explains what it really means to experience mental illness. Our movement shows people experiencing mental illness that they are not alone and there is hope. While it's a slow process, our movement is becoming louder and more persistent every time a celebrity speaks out, an article is published or an individual shares their personal story. Our movement is growing, strengthening and becoming more visible. We need to keep this momentum going.

Click here to read more.
New York State News
Invest in Education and Mental Health Services Not Incarceration

In a recent opinion piece in USA Today, Johnny Perez (who has presented at the NAMI-NYS Education Conference), details his life growing up in a rough area of the Bronx and experiences being an adolescent in Rikers Island and in solitary confinement and how that impacted his mental health. Johnny asks, " Imagine a world where we invested more money in educating incarcerated people than punishing them. What if the children who need the most love are given mental health services and counseling instead of being funneled into adult penal institutions?"

Click here to read more.

The New York Times Asks:  Can Mentally Ill Americans Be Executed? 

The New York Times recently took an in-depth examination of one of the most complicated criminal justice issues; using the death penalty in cases where the defendant has a mental illness.

Click here to read more.

National News
Bloomberg News Reports on How the Fight for AHCA May Not be Over

Last week we reported on the stunning developments in the House of Representatives where the vote on the American Health Care Act was pulled minutes before it was supposed to happen. This was a tremendous victory for mental health advocates. However, despite the fact that President Trump stated that they would be moving on from health care, Bloomberg News reports that the bill is not dead yet and that a vote could come soon. 

Click here to read more. 

Pulitzer Prize Winning Writer Ron Powers Tells His Story
 of Having Two Sons With Schizophrenia

Ron Powers, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Flag of Our Fathers, is telling his story of having two sons with schizophrenia.  Powers' younger son, Kevin, was a talented musician whose struggles with schizophrenia began at age 17. Just before his 21st birthday, in 2005, Kevin took his own life. A few years later, Powers' older son, Dean, started experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia and had a psychotic break.

"There is no greater ... feeling of helplessness than to watch two beloved sons deteriorate before [your] eyes, not knowing what to do to bring them back," Powers tells NPR's  Fresh Air 's Terry Gross.
Powers' new book,  No One Cares About Crazy People,  is both a memoir about his sons and a history of how the mentally ill have been treated medically, legally and socially. Although Dean is now medicated and doing well, Powers notes that many people with schizophrenia don't receive the treatment they need - in part because they often don't believe they are ill.

Click here to learn more from the NPR story.


Dr. Shelli Avenevoli Named NIMH Deputy Director

Dr. Shelli Avenevoli has been named deputy director of NIMH. She steps into the post having served as acting deputy during NIMH's search for a new permanent director. Avenevoli brings to the role a background and research interest in developmental science and epidemiology and a record of leadership within the NIMH organization and in numerous cross-institute and interagency scientific collaborations.

NAMI-NYS congratulates Dr. Avenevoli and looks forward to working with her in our role as the NIMH Outreach Partner for New York State.

Click here to read more. 

Teenage Depression Study

This research study seeks to understand the causes of depression in teenagers. It is part of a larger study looking at irritability and mood dysregulation. This part of the study's goals are to improve our knowledge of which treatments work best in depression, and will compare teenagers with depression to those with severe irritability. The research will also study teenagers with depression as they grow up.

This study is currently recruiting participants who:
* are ages 12 to 17, and medically healthy
* meet the criteria for major depressive disorder
* are currently in treatment with a physician and not currently hospitalized, psychotic, or suicidal 
* are able to perform research tasks that include brain imaging, computer tasks and behavioral & psychological testing

Click here for more information or call 301-496-8381


2017 NAMIWalksNYS September 23rd

NAMI-NYS looks forward to building on the success of our inaugural NAMIWalks NYS. The 2017 NAMIWalks NYS will be taking place on Saturday September 23rd at Jennings Landing in Albany. You can click here to start your team and/or donate to the walk.  
For more information you can email

Information on Other NAMIWalks in New York 

May 6th- NAMIWalks Rochester, Village Gate Square-Rochester
May 6th- NAMIWalks Long Island/Queens, Jones Beach-Zach's Bay, Wantagh
May 13th- NAMIWalks New York City Metro, South Street Promenade-Brooklyn Bridge-Manhattan
May 20th- NAMIWalks Westchester , Rye Town Par-Rye
2017 NAMI-NYS Ribbon Campaign

As May (which is Mental Health Awareness Month) is fast approaching it is time to begin preparing for this year's NAMI-NYS Ribbon Campaign. The statewide campaign allows NAMI-NYS and our local affiliates to partner with businesses, local governments, police and fire departments and schools in spreading mental health awareness and letting people know that NAMI is a place to find help and find hope. 

Click here to view a two-page brochure which details the campaign, which can be printed as a double-sided sheet to give to perspective ribbon campaign partners. 

Click here to download the ribbon order form.
Save the Dates

The 2017 A Brighter Day event will be taking place on Friday, April 21st. 
Click here for more information and to register. 

April 3- Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence from a Public Health Perspective. The keynote speaker  will be Sunny Schnitzer, MS Everytown for Gun Safety. The event will take place from 5-7pm at the University at Albany School of Public Health 1 University Place Room 110A Rensselaer, New York 12144. Click here to learn more.

April 5 - NAMI of Central Suffolk's Educational/Informational Speaker Series offers: SAVE A LIFE WITH NARCAN TRAINING ! The free training, is given by Suffolk Co DOH and will enable participants to recognize an opioid overdose, administer intranasal Narcan and take additional steps until EMS arrives. Participants will receive a certificate of completion and an emergency resuscitation kit that includes nasal Narcan . Hope you can join us at Mather Hospital Port Jefferson Conference Rooms One and Two at 7:30 pm.

April 21 "A Brighter Day" event at Glennpeter Jewelers. Click here for more information.

May 17th-NAMI Queens/Nassau will be holding their annual Faithnet event "Conversations with Clergy & Community" On EXPLORING FAITH, RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY as Resources for Individuals & Families
Struggling with Mental Illness. The event begins 6:30 and will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock 48 Shelter Rock Rd., Manhasset, NY 11030
All are welcome Please email Ellen Ritz at by May 8 to register. Complimentary Lite Supper will be provided. Click here for more info.

May 18 - Annual Mental Health Conference Living With Stability and Dignity at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi.  The conference focuses on the challenges and need for housing with featured speakers Toni Lasicki, Executive Director, Association for Community Living, Ralph Fasano, Executive Director, Concern for Independent Living and Denise Bauer, Director, Beacon of Hope, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. Program starts at 6 pm. Light dinner served. Building 4, 2nd Floor,1400 Pelham Parkway, Bronx, NY. RSVP 718-918-3906.
Signature Programs
MARCH 15 - NAMI NYC Metro Family-to-Family. Wednesdays March 15th - May 31st 11:00am -1:30pm at NYC Metro 505 Eighth Ave. @ 35th St. Suite 1103. Facilitators: Almarie Tulloch and Cynthia Scott. Contact NAMI Metro at (212) 684-3264, and they will have facilitator contact you for registration.

MARCH 16-NAMI Huntington and the Northport Veterans Administration Family-to-Family.Thursdays March 16th-June 1st at 7:00pm at the Northport Veterans Administration in Northport NY. Contact Jill Ryan
(516) 695-0389 or Jayette Lansbury at (631) 385-0754

MARCH 16 - NAMI Rockland Family-to-Family. Thursday Evenings,
March 16th to June 1st 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm at Rockland Psychiatric Center
140 Old Orangeburg Road, Bldg #57, 1st floor Classroom,
Orangeburg, NY 10962. Teachers: Chris Vanasse & Marlene Becker. Contact: (845) 359-8787

March 21-NAMI Mid-Hudson will be offering a Family-to-Family course at MidHudson Regional Hospital,  241 North Road in Poughkeepsie. The course will run through June 6th from 6:30-9pm. To register, please call :845-206-9892 or

March 23-NAMI Rockland will begin there next Family-to-Family class. To learn more or register call NAMI Rockland 845.359.8787 or email:

MARCH 25 - NAMI NYC Metro Peer -to- Peer. Saturdays March 25th - June 24th 11:00am -1:00pm at NYC Metro 505 Eighth Ave. @ 35th St. Suite 1103. Facilitators: Lyle Braxton and Robert Potter. Contact NAMI Metro at (212) 684-3264, and they will have facilitator contact you for registration.

MARCH 27- NAMI NYC Metro Family-to-Family. Mondays March 27th - June 19th 6:00pm -8:30 pm at NYC Metro 505 Eighth Ave. @ 35th St. Suite 1103. Facilitators: Chantay Reid and Rosemarie Woods. Contact NAMI Metro at (212) 684-3264, and they will have facilitator contact you for registration. 

APRIL 3- NAMI Putnam Family-to-Family. Mondays April 3-June 26th 6:00pm at
Kent Public Library, 17 Sybil's Crossing, Carmel NY 10512. Library phone #   845-225-8585. To register contact William and Wanda Crowley contact phone # 914-522-3812.
APRIL 4 - NAMI Queens Nassau Family-to-Family. Tuesdays April 4th - June 27th, 6:30 pm-9:00 pm. Unitarian Universalist Congregational at Shelter Rock, 48 Shelter Rock Road, Manhasset, NY 11030. Contact: / (516) 326-0797 or Ellen Ritz RN / (516)330-9778
Rev. Val Gittens / (516) 749-4432

APRIL 4-NAMI Orange Family-to-Family. April 4th - June 27th, 6:30pm -9:00 pm. First Presbyterian Church, 33 Park Place, Goshen, NY 10924. Contact Dhanu Sannesy
( 845)294-2749 /

APRIL 4- NAMI Staten Island Peer-to-Peer. April 4, 2017 Tuesdays at 6 pm at our office building, 930 Willowbrook Road, Bldge 41A Staten Island

APRIL 6-NAMI Rochester Family-to-Family. Thursdays, April 6th - June 22nd, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm.  NAMI Rochester Office, 320 N. Goodman Street, Suite 103, Rochester, NY 14607. Contact Beth Winslow-D'Amico at (585) 423-1593 or

APRIL 6- NAMI Syracuse Family-to-Family. Thursdays, April 6th - June 22nd, 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm at 620 Erie Boulivard West,BHOC 116A, Syracuse, NY 13204. To register contact Ann Canastra (315)425-4400 ext. 52717/

APRIL 17-NAMI Staten Island Family-to-Family. April 17th 2017 Mondays at 7 pm at Fr. Dominic Epifano Parish Center at Holy Rosary Parish - 85 Jerome Ave. Staten Island, NY 10305.

APRIL 19-NAMI Rochester Peer-to-Peer. Wednesdays, April 19th through June 21st ,
From 6:00 pm - 8"00 pm, Location: NAMI Rochester Office To registrar call

APRIL 24- NAMI Rensselaer Family-to-Family. Mondays April 24th- July 17th 6:00 pm- 8:30 pm at the NAMI-NYS Office, 99 Pine Street, Suite 105, Albany ,NY 12207. To Register call Mary Beth Honsinger at (518)491-3743/ or Mary Beth Nelligan at (518)859-9667/

MAY 1-NAMI Central Suffolk Basics. Mondays, May 1st through June 12th, from 10:00am-12:30pm at the  Farmingville Mental Health Clinic, Conference Room, 15 Horseblock Place, Farmingville NY 11738.  Contact: Andrea Stolz, (631) 223-5030 or  Maryann Barraco, (631) 223-5029
June 1-NAMI Queens/Nassau will hold a Family-to-Family class at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock 48 Shelter Rock Rd. Manhasset, NY 11030 from 10am-12:30.

Register: (718) 347-7284 or (516) 326-0797 or email

June 3-NAMI Queens/Nassau will hold a Family-to-Family class at The Greater Allen A.M.E., Cathedral of New York 110-31 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, NY 11433 from 1:30-4:00pm

Register: (718) 347-7284 or (516) 326-0797 or email

SEPTEMBER 6- NAMI Rochester Family-to-Family. Wednesdays, September 6th -November 29th, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm.
NAMI Rochester Office, 320 N. Goodman Street, Suite 103, Rochester, NY 14607. Contact Beth Winslow-D'Amico at (585) 423-1593 or

Please contact your local affiliate program leaders for more information and how to enroll.

NAMI Family-to-Family Teacher Training
July 14th-16th, 2017
Trainers: Ann Canastra & Cheri Caiella
Location: Comfort Suite Cicero-Syracuse

NAMI Basics Teacher Training
April 1st-2nd, 2017
Trainers Almarie Tulloch & Karen Alvarez
Location: NAMI Rockland Office

NAMI Peer-to-Peer Mentor Training
April 21st-23rd, 2017
Trainers: Cynthia Scott & Donna Israel
Location: NAMI-NYS Office Albany

NAMI Family-to-Family Teacher Training
May 19th-21st, 2017
Trainers: Patti Sacher & Bonnie Goldberg
Location: NAMI-NYS Office Albany

NAMI Homefront Teacher Training
May 20th-21st, 2017
Trainers: Pam Solomon & Jerry Burton
Location: NAMI-NYS Office Albany

NAMI Support Group Facilitator Training
March 25th-26th, 2017
Trainers: Pat Sine & Jack Goldstein
Location: NAMI Rochester Office

NAMI Support Group Facilitator Training
June 3rd-4th, 2017
Trainers: Deniece Chi & Nancy Parker
Location: NAMI-NYS Office Albany

NAMI In Our Own Voice Presenter Training
June 3rd-4th, 2017
Trainers: Bill Perun & Chris Wasilenko
Location: NAMI Rochester Office

NAMI In Our Own Voice Presenter Training
June 24th-25th, 2017
Trainers: Cynthia Scott & Lady Charmaine Day
Location: NAMI-NYS Office Albany

NAMI Family-to-Family Teacher Training
October 20th-22nd, 2017
Trainers: Patti Sacher & Bonnie Goldberg
Location: NAMI-NYS Office Albany

NAMI Homefront Teacher Training
October 21st-22nd, 2017
Trainers: Pam Solomon & Jerry Burton
Location; NAMI-NYS Office Albany

To have your events and Signature Programs listed in the E-Newsletter contact Christine Rickeman at   

NAMI-NYS | 99 Pine Street Suite 105| Albany, New York 12207 | (518) 462-2000