Dear NAMI Members, Family, and Friends:
As 2019 draws to a close, it is a pleasure to share with you the success our Columbia County affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-CC) has had this year. Member dues/donations, a few donations from other sources, and a small amount from the State Office of Mental Health have been our principle sources of income. We hope this letter will encourage you to continue to do two things:
- Maintain your NAMI-CC membership thru the coming year. You can do that online at the NAMI National website (just Google NAMI), but be sure you indicate that your local affiliate is Columbia County, New York. If you don’t have a computer we can take your check and register you online.
- Encourage others to join NAMI-CC. Membership can be as inexpensive as $5. Our membership has declined in recent years, so your help in recruiting new members would be greatly appreciated by us, but also by the new people who join.
In March, we held our Annual General Meeting and had elections for new Board of Directors and subsequent selection of officers. Board positions are effective for 2 years. Nicole Corey, Heather Lloyd, Brian Karas, and Fred Anders are the new board members and Nicole was chosen as President. Feel free to reach out to any of them if you have questions or concerns. Board of Directors currently meets monthly to guide our program. Your comments and opinions are always welcome. (Pat Anders still attends board meetings as a past president).
One of NAMI’s signature programs is the Family-to-Family education course. This is a 12 session class (it will only be 8 weeks starting in 2020) in which family members receive help to understand, cope with, and advocate for their loved one with mental illness. This year the class was offered during the summer in Hudson, and again this fall in Kinderhook. A total of 12 people attended the two classes.
Connecting with other families and individuals with similar life experiences is a tremendous source of support and hope for families in crisis. Family Support Group meetings, currently held the first Friday at 6:30 pm in Chatham, are essential to helping families deal with the condition of a loved one. Participants often comment on how comforted they feel knowing that they are not alone in their struggles. In addition, another NAMI member completed Family Support Group training which should allow us to offer a second support group monthly in 2020.
With your support, we were able to achieve the following for members and our community:
- Free mental health educational meetings for our members and the public. These included: presentations by the Director of the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team, a dietician speaking about the relationship of mental illness and diet, a NYS CHAMP spokeswoman talking about help available for working with insurance companies, a representative of NAMI-NYS explaining the programs and training available, a practicing pharmacist answering questions about medications for mental illness and their side effects.
- Five members attended the NAMI-NYS Educational Conference in Albany. Education about mental health challenges is one of the top ways to promote recovery.
- Met locally in Columbia County with legislators and in Albany with our senator and legislators to advocate for improvement in mental health treatment and related laws.
- Paid for a summer picnic for individuals in the PROS (Personalized Recovery Oriented Services) program at the Mental Health Association because State funding was curtailed.
- Providing holiday gifts to residents of the three mental health residences in our county.
- A “thank you” holiday gift to staff at each of the mental health residences, the Mental Health Clinic, the Mental Health Association, the psychiatric unit at Columbia Memorial Hospital, the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team, and the Apogee Center.
- Participated in monthly meetings of the County’s Community Services Board.
- Maintain a website for our members and the public, a Facebook page, a lending library at 900 Columbia Street in Hudson.
- Our family members enjoyed several social events together – like today!
- We completed the NAMI National re-affiliation process.
- Several members have begun training for the NAMI Signature Program “Ending the Silence” to be offered in schools.
- We continued to make improvements to our electronic communications and have started working with Columbia Greene Community College to get a student intern who will be able to help us with publicity.
We hope to continue and increase the outreach being done to help families and individuals experiencing mental health challenges, and your assistance by talking with those you know. In the United States, 5 percent of adults (18 or older) experience a mental illness in any one year, equivalent to 43.8 million people. We are a long way from helping all those who need it, but with your continued support we can make progress here in Columbia County.
Your Board of Directors
NAMI Columbia County, NY