2013: A year of community collaborations around mental health

Beth ClayBy Beth Clay

Executive Director

What an exciting year this has been for NAMI Fox Valley! Demand for our programs and services continues to grow, along with NAMI Fox Valley’s profile in the Fox Cities as the community’s voice on mental illness. In the wake of tragic events, a community, state and national dialog has followed regarding our nation’s broken mental health system and what needs to be done to fix it.

NAMI Fox Valley is working hard to educate our community that treatment works, recovery is possible, and that we must work collectively to improve access to treatment, and break down barriers,  including stigma,  that prevent people from seeking help.

This year we have seen a growing momentum in our community around mental health and a collective call to action among stakeholders, partner agencies, mental health service providers and families to do more for one in four. There is a growing awareness in our community that addressing mental health problems is a basic human need.

There has been a ground swell of new mental health initiatives this year, and NAMI Fox Valley has been proud to sit at the table of many of them, offering our 30 years of experience breaking stigma, mental illness education expertise, and ensuring that the voices of people affected by mental illness are heard. We have found new community partners and expanded our relationships with non-traditional partners.  Through collaboration, we can reach more members of the community, reduce duplication, fill gaps and leverage shared resources to meet our community’s needs.

We are now receiving requests every day for training, presentations or program collaboration!  We are excited for the many diverse requests coming our way and are working to build capacity to take advantage of these opportunities.

Here are some of the exciting collaborations underway:

  • This year’s United Way Fox Cities campaign is focused on promoting and supporting the mental health of our community. The impact of untreated and mistreated mental illness on all sectors of our community was recognized in the most recent LIFE Study, and NAMI Fox Valley has been an active partner in this year’s campaign.
  • In collaboration with Common Ground, Samaritan Counseling and representatives from many faith communities, we are in the planning stages of developing a training and support program for clergy and faith leaders to support individuals and families affected by mental illness.
  • As a member of the N.E.W. (Northeast Wisconsin) Mental Health Connection, we are a partner in connecting community stakeholders and resources to improve the mental health of our community.  This membership organization of individuals and organizations was created after the community’s 2011 Mental Health Summit to address barriers to accessing and navigating mental health services. Initiatives include:
  1. No Wrong Door: This committee is working to create a system that gets individuals to the right place, at the right time for the right service through an online referral database and community training.
  2. 24/7 Crisis Task Force: This initiative brings law enforcement, county crisis, emergency departments, and mental health providers together to improve triage services and get people to the right level of care at the time they need it.
  3. Suicide initiative: This suicide prevention effort is looking at suicide in the Fox Cities from a public health approach as we seek to create the most efficient and effective system of care for the community.
  4. Support Primary Care Providers: This effort provides training and support to equip primary care providers to feel more comfortable diagnosing and treatment mental illnesses.
  • The Children’s Mental Health Initiative is working to create a system of care from prenatal to young adulthood that can support and promote mental health across the lifespan.
  • In support of the YMCA Fox Cities mission to build healthy spirits, minds and bodies, NAMI Fox Valley and the YMCA are working together on multiple initiatives to maximize resources through using the expertise of each agency.
  • Since the beginning of 2013, NAMI Fox Valley has provided community outreach presentations and trainings to more than 60 organizations, reaching more than 1,200 community members.

I remain so proud to play a part in an organization that is living its mission daily. Through the passion and dedication of staff, board, volunteers, families and consumers, NAMI Fox Valley is working to support and empower everyone touched by mental illness.

Thank you for being on this journey with us,

Beth