Support, Education & Hope

For the 1 in 4 who are directly affected by mental illness and those who love them, we make the Thurston and Mason county area a better place to live.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Thurston/Mason provides free support groups and education programs. We fight for improvements to our mental health delivery systems – better access to care, standards of care, recovery, housing, jobs, and rehabilitation.

President Obama orders ban on the use of solitary confinement for juveniles, sets sharp limits on use of solitary confinement for people with serious mental illness

From NAMI National:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today expressed gratitude for President Obama’s actions to curtail the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons.

The President ordered a ban on the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and sharp limits on its use for people with serious mental illness.  In an op-ed article in the Washington Post, released also by the White House, the President called broadly on the nation to “rethink” solitary confinement.

An audit of facilities administered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons revealed that 60% of individuals in solitary confinement have undiagnosed or untreated serious mental illness.  Moreover, many of these individuals are placed in solitary confinement for extended periods of time, some for months or years at a time.

NAMI’s Executive Director Mary Giliberti expressed grave concern about the statistics.  “It is well documented in research that long term segregation in prisons has devastating emotional consequences for all individuals,” Giliberti stated.   “For individuals with pre-existing serious mental illness, it is akin to torture, a sure fire way to worsen symptoms and decrease the opportunity of successful reentry into society.”

New federal guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in conjunction with President Obama’s actions state that inmates with serious mental illness should generally not be placed in restrictive housing.   The placement of such individuals in restricted housing, the guidelines state, should occur only when “individuals present such an immediate and serious danger that there is no reasonable alternative … or a qualified mental health practitioner determines that such placement is not contraindicated.”

The guidelines also specify that inmates with serious mental illness who are placed in solitary confinement should be removed from such settings within 30 days and should receive “intensive, clinically appropriate mental health treatment for the entirety of placement in restrictive housing.”

The excessive and inappropriate use of solitary confinement on inmates with serious mental illness is not limited to federal prisons.   Many states prisons also use solitary confinement excessively and inappropriately with inmates with serious mental illness and others.   However, progress is occurring at the state level as well.  For example, Colorado, Oregon, and Illinois have curtailed the use of solitary confinement on inmates with serious mental illness in recent years.

“President Obama’s statement and orders represent an important step forward in establishing more humane alternatives to the use of solitary confinement in the federal prison system,” Giliberti declared.  “We hope that all states will follow his lead and take similar steps to eliminate these draconian practices, particularly with juveniles and individuals with serious mental illness.  We also call on federal and state officials to focus on diverting people of all ages with serious mental illnesses from the criminal justice system in the first place.”

NAMI Applauds Agreement on the 2016 Budget Bill


NAMI Executive Director Mary Giliberti today praised the House and Senate for their work in reaching agreement on the federal budget bill for 2016.

“This bill clearly demonstrates recognition by the Committee that wise investments in mental health services and research benefit people with mental illness, families, and the nation as a whole,” Giliberti stated. “We are particularly grateful for the agreement’s increased funding for early intervention in the treatment of psychosis, funding for research at the National Institute for Mental Health, and investments in vital services and supports that can prevent negative consequences such as homelessness and incarceration. NAMI is grateful for the efforts of key bipartisan leaders in Congress in bringing about these important investments including Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).”

The budget bill includes a number of important provisions including:

An increase of $50 million for the State Mental Health Block Grant program administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), with 10% of these funds designated as a “set aside” for funding early intervention programs for people with serious mental illness, an increase from the current 5% set-aside. NAMI, in partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), held a Congressional briefing in October to focus attention on the promise of First Episode Psychosis (FEP) programs such as those established through the NIMH Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) initiative and to ask Congress for this increase in funding. These programs in research sites across the country showed positive outcomes in reducing disability and fostering recovery.
An increase of $85.4 million in funding for biomedical and services research at NIMH. Total funding for NIMH in FY 2016 will be increased to $1,548,390,000, a vital investment in research to advance understanding of the causes of mental illness and to identify new treatments for these conditions.
An increase of $1.5 million for Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration grants funded through the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice. This program, whose total funding will be $10 million in fiscal year 2016, provides vital grants to states and communities to support jail diversion, mental health courts, law enforcement training, and community reentry programs for people with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders involved with criminal justice systems.
The bill also provides $15 million for a new Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) pilot program through SAMHSA. NAMI will be encouraging SAMHSA to focus on funding projects modeled after San Francisco’s new AOT program that include a signficant outreach and engagement component prior to AOT or if an AOT order is necessary, to assist and empower people under AOT orders to realize their personal goals and achieve better outcomes.

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Mental Health Groups Join in Protest to ABC-TV

Six Leading Mental Health Organizations Call on ABC-TV to Drop Halloween Episode; Stigma Violates TV Network’s Own Anti-Bullying Campaign

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Six of the nation’s leading mental health organizations have joined in calling on ABC-TV to drop its Wednesday night broadcast of a “Modern Family” Halloween episode that mocks and stigmatizes people with mental health conditions.

A copy of the letter is below, signed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the Bazelon Center on Mental Health Law, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), Mental Health America (MHA), the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), Inc.

The letter includes the observation that the episode violates ABC-TV’s own code of Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility and that one of the television network’s own partners in a current anti-bullying campaign has itself called for an end to the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

Letter to ABC-TV

Mr. Paul Lee
ABC Entertainment Group

Dear Mr. Lee:

The undersigned national organizations join in asking that ABC-TV refrain from re-broadcasting this week the stigmatizing Halloween episode of Modern Family, “AwesomeLand” that aired last year.

Mental illness is not a joke. Re-airing an episode that uses an “insane asylum” theme and stereotypes of people living with mental illness as a vehicle for humor is a cruel Halloween trick on the 1 in 5 Americans who experience mental health problems in any given year.

The U.S. Surgeon General and three presidential administrations have identified the stigma associated with mental illness as a very real public health problem. Stigmatizing, stereotyped portrayals such as those in “AwesomeLand” often discourage people experiencing mental health problems from seeking help when they need it—precisely because they fear becoming subject to ridicule. When it is internalized, stigma also damages a person’s progress toward recovery.

The premiere of the episode last year greatly alarmed the mental health community. It is profoundly disappointing that ABC should now plan to air it again and ignore the public health concerns that surround it. We find it hard to believe that ABC would ever be so dismissive of such concerns if the jokes involved HIV/AIDs or breast cancer. In fact, the episode violates ABC’s own code of Citizenship and Social Responsibility in which you call for action to create a better, happier and healthier tomorrow.

ABC’s decision to re-air the episode also contradicts the network’s partnership with Pacer and other organizations in sponsoring an anti-bullying campaign during National Bullying Prevention Month (October). Pacer is known as a “champion for children with disabilities” and its resources for resources for children’s mental health include the video “Make Stigma Disappear” which is a call to action against stigma.

Please do not undermine your own anti-bullying campaign. Do not contradict your own campaign partner. Children and teens who live with mental health conditions are themselves vulnerable to bullying. That vulnerability is increased when a television network spreads stigma recklessly under the guise of Halloween fun.

ABC has awesome power as a television network to help make a healthier, better tomorrow for us all. Please exercise your power responsibility by not re-airing “AwesomeLand.”


Mary Giliberti
Executive Director
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Arlington, Virginia

Harvey Rosenthal
Executive Director
New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Inc. (NYAPRS)
Albany, New York

Jennifer Mathis, J.D.
Director of Programs
Bazelon Center on Mental Health Law
Washington, D.C.

Phyllis Foxworth
Vive-President for Advocacy
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Chicago, Illinois

American Psychiatric Association
Arlington, Virginia

Erin Wallace
Senior Director of Communications and Marketing
Mental Health America
Alexandria, Virginia

SOURCE National Alliance on Mental Illness
Bob Carolla
Director of Media Relations
NAMI–National Allliance on Mental Illness
3803 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203


Proposed Care Center Targets Mental Illness and More in Downtown Olympia

Staff writer

Providence Health and Services is leading an effort to create a social service hub in downtown Olympia with a focus on people with serious mental illness.

The proposed Community Care Center will open sometime in 2016. Organizers say the center will fill a void by uniting several service agencies under one roof — and reducing the number of mentally ill people who end up in jails and emergency rooms.

Mental illness often intersects with substance abuse and chronic homelessness. To that end, the center will help catalyze a range of local service providers and maximize access for people who need it most.

“We’re just coordinating services we already have,” said TJ LaRocque, inpatient behavioral health manager for Providence.

No location has been determined. However, the plan is to lease a space around 12,000 square feet in downtown Olympia.

“It’s imperative to be downtown,” LaRocque told the Thurston County Board of Commissioners in a presentation Thursday. “That’s where the people we’re trying to serve — the most vulnerable folks — already are.”

Nearly 40 percent of clients at the Providence St. Peter Hospital emergency center crisis services department are trying to access the same services that would be provided by the Community Care Center. That adds up to about 1,800 people a year, according to Providence.

The center’s purpose aligns with other efforts to improve community health and reform the criminal justice system in Thurston County, County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe said.

For example, the county is slated to open a mental health triage center in April that can help free up more jail beds. Mentally ill inmates are typically housed in two-person cells and require more space, according to the county.

Wolfe also noted the “frequent fliers” who need treatment, but instead shuffle in and out of jail at the public’s expense.

“This will go a long way toward finding the right place for people as opposed to jail,” Wolfe said of the proposed center. “If this works the way it’s envisioned, it could be a huge boon financially and socially.”

Several agencies are already on board. Behavioral Health Resources intends to provide at least one on-site mental health professional. Interfaith Works will coordinate shelter while the Sidewalk Program will provide assistance with housing and case management.

Other participating agencies so far include the Capital Recovery Center, the Thurston/Mason chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, the Olympia Free Clinic/Mental Health Access Program and the Veterans Administration of Southwest Washington.

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869

Read more here:

The NAMI Effect

The NAMI Effect

We like to call it the NAMI effect.

Every time you offer your hand to pick someone up.
Every time you share your strength and ability to persevere.
Every time you offer support and understanding to a family who is caring for a loved one.
You help change lives.

Mental illness affects everyone. With your help, we can reach more people in need of help and hope.

Hope starts with you.

Share the NAMI effect.

Share your story or experience to become a part of the NAMI effect and join the hundreds of individuals who have shared their stories about living with mental illness.

Share your hope or the challenges you’ve faced. Share your inspiration or frustration. 1 in 4 Americans experience mental illness. You Are Not Alone.