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Community Newsletter: NAMI Racine

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This is a time of unprecedented awareness about mental health, yet NAMI Racine County remains aware of ongoing gaps in service delivery.

Michelle Gehring, executive director, recalls a recent conversation with local nurse practitioners who serve on NAMI Racine’s Board of Directors: “We know there are upwards of 600 people on waiting lists for psychiatric providers, prescribers and therapists. At the same time, it’s startling how many people are unaware of NAMI and our services.”

While NAMI Racine does not offer crisis services, licensed psychiatric care or medication management, they have a strong foundation in the model of peer support. NAMI’s peer support model means that those leading support groups, educational programs and signature classes have experience with mental illness and are trained using NAMI’s national evidence-based materials.

Advocacy

Advocacy is a key pillar of NAMI Racine County. Advocacy can mean self-advocacy such as asserting oneself with the provider in finding the right medications to treat symptoms. It can also mean advocating for one another through peer support. Equally as important are large scale advocacy efforts. NAMI Racine recently completed its signature Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for law enforcement officers so that they can more effectively respond to calls related to mental health. If a person or a family member finds themselves in such a crisis, when they call 911 or the local police, they can request a CIT-trained officer.

NAMI supports moving collective mental health efforts forward by addressing priority areas and getting impactful solutions in place. NAMI National hosted a virtual “REIMAGINE: A Week of Action to Reimagine Our National Response to People in Crisis” Nov. 15-19. It focused heavily on advocacy to improve crisis response systems ahead of the July 2022 implementation of 988, which will be the national emergency line for mental health, substance abuse and suicidal crises, as described by NAMI at the national level.

Community involvement

NAMI Racine began autumn activities with a booth at Party on the Pavement, the Boo at the Zoo trunk or treat event and its annual Mental Illness Awareness Week, which was again brimming with activity. NAMI partnered with its longtime sister organization, Racine Friendship Clubhouse, for the annual Go Green Monday event at Monument Square, fundraising and awareness events at Noodles & Company and The Grind Café, a movie screening and virtual panel presentation at the Golden Rondelle with community experts and the Night Out With NAMI virtual fundraiser. Many thanks goes out to the Racine community for making the online auction the most successful yet.

New team members

There is also new life at NAMI Racine County. The organization welcomes Vishal Patel, a Carthage social work intern: Jasmine Alvarez, a public allies intern; and Sheri Hess, program coordinator. Mary Wilson provides compassion and knowledge to those calling our phones requesting services and resources. Allison Clarke serves as education and outreach associate. And, of course, an honorable mention to veteran office manager Joan Cudewicz — the glue holding this all together.

The lifeblood of NAMI is its members, supporters and volunteers. Dedicated members have been the catalyst for positive change since the founding of NAMI Racine County over four decades ago. Its member advocacy led to the development of community support programs, mobile crisis response, and other services that enable people living with mental illness to remain in the community and reach their full potential. NAMI Racine members also advocated for increased federal research funding which resulted in improved medications and treatment for many people living with mental illness.

Be a member

A priority call to action is to increase NAMI Racine County’s collective voices and membership base with a membership drive under way. For more information, call 262-637-0582, email mgehring@namiracine.org or shess@namiracine.org or go to namiracinecounty.org.

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