Amy Marlow is a NAMI Northern Virginia Peer-to-Peer Mentor and "In Our Own Voice presenter. Click here to read her powerful story, published in the Washington Post.
MCLEAN, Va. – Fairfax County firefighter Brenda Pamperin is putting her life on hold for two months, as she joins nine other riders biking out of San Diego on Monday for a ride across the country to raise awareness of mental illness.
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The Northern Virginia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness organized the local kickoff event, where the group focused on the resources available in the Washington, D.C. region.
“We do have the support groups, we have the classes, we have a help line, and it can really help people who may be struggling to figure out the next step,” Executive Director Jeanne Comeau said.
During the event, Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers said the department is working on ways to divert patients with mental illness away from emergency rooms or jail so that the patients can get the help they need.
Click here to read the full article.
How to Foster Positive Mental Health Support For Employees, by Jeanne Comeau, President & CEO, NAMI Northern Virginia, August 10, 2015
In every office there is likely someone who is living and working with a mental health condition. Given that 1 in 5 people experience mental illness each year, there is an even greater likelihood that many employees are family members or friends supporting someone living with a mental health condition. Click here to read the full article.
Fairfax Co. Aims to Reform Treatment of Mentally Ill Defendants, by Jackie Benson, NBC4, August 3, 2015
Fairfax County officials are working to avoid sending mentally ill people through what they call a revolving door of arrest and incarceration. "Where we identify a deficiency, where we identify something that's not right, we don't try to sweep it under the rug," County Board Chair Sharon Bulova
Click here to view the video.
A group of about 50 community and Fairfax County government leaders has launched an effort, called Diversion First, with the goal of reducing the number of people with mental illness in local jails by diverting non-violent offenders experiencing mental health crises to treatment instead of incarceration.
The inaugural meeting of the Diversion First group included four judges, top officials from throughout the Fairfax County government, mental health leaders, local law enforcement agencies, local political leaders, mental health advocacy groups, and community members whose families have experienced the consequences of incarceration as well as its alternative – diversion to appropriate mental health treatment.
"The county took a major step forward Monday night," says Gary Ambrose, Inaugural Chair of the Diversion First initiative and Chairman of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB). "This effort will change the way law enforcement interacts with offenders in our community who are living with mental illness."
Click here to read more.
Jeanne Comeau, NAMI Northern Virginia's Executive Director, is a member of the Diversion First collaborative group. Concerned Fairfax, an advocacy group of NAMI Northern Virginia, is represented by Gary Ambrose and Jeanne Comeau.
New Efforts To Help People With Mental Illness Get Treatment Instead Of Jail Time, Diane Rehm Show, August 4, 2015
Jails in the U.S. have increasingly become holding cells for people suffering from mental illness despite the fact that the vast majority pose no threat to public safety. We get an update on new efforts to keep people with mental illness out of jail and into treatment. Click here to listen.
Lending a critical hand to parents Support program helps area families navigate complicated mental health network, by Kali Schumitz, Fairfax Times, June 26, 2015
"For a parent of a child with mental illness, navigating the network of programs and services offered through multiple county agencies can be overwhelming and emotionally draining."
"The Parent Support Partner program, run by NAMI Northern Virginia, employs parents of children with mental illness who have experience successfully navigating the maze of public agencies as paraprofessionals to aid other parents."
Click to read the full article.
New Loudoun mental health crisis center could get more deputies back on the streets, by Max Smith, WTOP, July 3, 2015
From WTOP news:
The Loudoun County Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services, led by Division Director Michelle Petruzello and Department Director Joe Wilson, has been working with Sheriff Mike Chapman to set up the new assessment center. It will be funded for two years by a grant, with hopes that it will show the successes needed to earn more funding from other sources in the future.
Jeanne Comeau, executive director of NAMI Northern Virginia, says other jurisdictions in Northern Virginia that have opened similar centers and stepped up the crisis intervention training have helped more people with mental illness get treatment without getting stuck behind bars.
“We’re very excited about the new assessment center because we know that so many individuals who live with mental health conditions are not able to get the treatment that they need and often end up in the jail instead, so just having a place that officers are able to go and take people who live with mental illness to a place where they can be safe and also are able to access community resources,” she says.
“When people have heart conditions and they have a heart attack, the first thing we do is get them in an ambulance and get them to the hospital and get treatment, and mental illness is another chronic condition where we need to provide treatment,” she says.
Click here to read the entire article.
NAMI Northern Virginia shares information at the Fairfax County Re-Entry Council's Inmate Resource Fair, March 3, 2015
On March 3rd, NAMI Northern Virginia was on hand to answers questions and share mental health resource information to two hundred inmates at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. One of our peer mentors, a military veteran, provided encouragement, along with materials, to the many men and women who stopped by our table.
According to the Connection Newspaper, 34-year-old Demeterius Spann of Alexandria and 29-year-old Nydale Sheppard of Reston are ready for their chance, armed with information on what’s available to them. “I’m very excited,” said Sheppard, “to see all the people here willing to help us get a fresh start.” Click here to read the full Connection Newspaper article.
NAMI Northern Virginia and Concerned Fairfax are members of the Fairfax County Re-Entry Council. NAMI Northern Virginia co-chairs the Mental Health Subcommittee of the Re-Entry Council. For more information and to get involved, visit NAMI Northern Virginia and Concerned Fairfax.
NAMI Northern Virginia is partnering with local Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA) chapters to increase mental health awareness in the African American community. In February, we participated in the Loudoun County Alpha Kappa Alpha alumni group's mental health fair & awareness event. One of our members served as a "topic expert" panelist for this well-attended and fun event! We look forward to partnering with other local AKA chapters in the coming months.