Fall 2016 Newsletter

FALL 2016
NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope.

NAMI – BEAVER COUNTY is an educational, advocacy and support group for families, consumers, and professionals dealing with serious mental illnesses or brain disorders. We support each other by educating ourselves through research, attending conferences, and sharing this information with others. NAMI-BC members also offer support through our years of experience in dealing with these illnesses on a personal level.

Meetings are held at
7:00pm on the 3rd Thursday of each month
October 20, 2016, In Our Own Voice Presentation by David and Linda Ogden
November 17, 2016, Helen-Ann DeSimone of The Women’s Center
December 15, 2016, Christmas Party

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NEW WEBSITE: – check for notices and articles
NAMI.ORG – New Look – Check it Out!
NAMI AIR – APP for your IPhone or Tablet – Give and Receive Support
NAMI National Convention: was held Denver, July 6-9, 2016
FACEBOOK: Post your ideas of topics for Facebook, website, or newsletter
Contact Carla Braund at (724)888-6877 or for questions or concerns regarding any of the events listed above.


By Vicki Mann

Two major themes of the 2016 NAMI National Convention were the Stepping Up Initiative and the Engagement Initiative. Workshops and plenary sessions provided start up information for participation in these national causes.
The Stepping Up Initiative was developed as a 5 year plan designed to address the crisis we face in the criminal justice system. The number of people in jail with mental illnesses has led some experts to refer to the prison systems as “the largest mental health care facility in the U.S.” The initiative is concerned with diverting mentally ill persons from criminal prosecution to appropriate treatment when necessary and available. NAMI advocates Crisis Intervention Training
for first responders. CIT trains professionals with techniques for de-escalation of situations and familiarizes them with the realities behind mental illness in a bid to break down stereotyping and stigma. The initiative is a cooperative effort between state and county governments and is endorsed by the National Sheriff’s Association, who also participate.
In Beaver County, BCBH has been concentrating their efforts on supporting the reentry of jailed persons into society with treatment plans and community supports. The County has also begun to utilize the Mental Health First Aid
Program, with several classes to be taught in the near future.

The Engagement Initiative was developed in response to the fact that up to 70 percent of all persons with mental illness are failing to get appropriate treatment because they don’t return after that first doctor visit. Various factors come into play, such as too much paperwork and lack of understanding from professionals and support staff. In Beaver County,
Value Behavioral Health has begun their participation in the initiative by changing their practices from a medical model to a recovery-based model. This will provide a more supportive model, and eliminate what is called institutional stigma
By concentration on the person rather than the disease, treatment can be based on individual needs. Recovery can be encouraged simply by eliminating stigmatizing language. Instead of being told “you’re bipolar”, people with mental illnesses are told “you have a disease called bipolar disorder.” This encourages the idea that we are not a disease, and that we are in control of our treatment and our lives.

By Carla Braund and Susan Smith

While attending the NAMI National Convention in Denver I was intrigued by the session “Youth and Young Adults: A Key to Building a Movement”. Several thoughts crossed my mind as to why this may be important. NAMI is graying, we need a younger voice to come to the table. It is better for the person with mental health issues to get treatment earlier in life to help build a more satisfying life. What are we missing by not engaging younger people? What issues are important to younger people? How do we start to engage them?
Not every thought is answerable, but clearly there was excitement in the room as those younger and older realized we could work together on common goals. Keys to engaging the younger person were to show the they (youth)
are not alone, give them a voice, give them a voice with action and have senior staff show support on projects. Suggestions followed with doing ice-breakers for group cohesion, meeting in person, and giving the younger participants a creative outlet, such as social media and videos. Giving the youth and young adult a voice can lead to certain roles, tasks, projects and learning opportunities for all involved.
The name the youth and young adults came up with is “Young Adult Advisory Group”, or YAAG. These groups are sprouting up across the nation for NAMI and other groups. At NAMI Beaver County, I intend to educate my contemporaries and engage younger people as time goes on. The future is now.
Please send any comments and suggestions to

Early Psychosis, affecting about 100,000 new individuals a year, has a common onset in teens and young adults. There can be multiple causes but most early psychosis programs target schizophrenia. Psychosis symptoms include: delusions, hallucinations, though and language disorder, “negative” and cognitive symptoms, and a loss of ability to reality test. Symptoms tend to evolve over time with cognitive changes, affective/perceptual changes, behavior changes and acute symptoms with loss of contact with reality.
In a symposia two clients, Tamara and Michael, with experiences with early psychosis were contrasted and compared. Tamara had an experience of years of highly ineffective and expensive treatment with poor outcomes. Michael was treated with a more person-centered model using goals and measuring outcomes. The new treatment model is called Coordinated Specialty Services, or CSC and usually comes from team based services. The implications for such a treatment model are that people learn to manage conditions and progress with their lives, have support and community around recovery, have a reason for hope verses hopelessness, and expect a developmental progression verses permanent dependency.

This movement is growing and NAMI is supporting it. Information was utilized from the RAISE study, “Recovery after an Initial Schizophrenia Episode”. Congressional action in 2014 and 2015 asked for 5% of Mental Health Block Grants to be used for this purpose. In 2016, SAMSHA is asked to collaborate with NIMH in funding programs showing effectiveness. Locally, a workgroup is evaluating and studying how to tie in parts of the model.

Nami Beaver County


A Blog from the NAMI National Website

Sysiphus and The Seed
By Marcella Allison, May 16, 2016

There are so many times in the last five years when I’ve felt like Sisyphus in the ancient myth, condemned to roll a giant boulder uphill over and over again. Anyone who has a loved one with mental illness knows how it feels. Our son goes on and off his medications and in and out of mania, psychosis and psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers. Every time we think we’ve finally reached the summit, the boulder comes rolling back down the hill to crush us.
We want so much to believe that if we just keep pushing that boulder up the hill – if we hire the best doctors, chase down the latest drugs and enroll in the right programs – eventually we will reach some glorious summit and all our hard work will be worth it.
But what I am realizing after five years of trying to push this boulder uphill is that helping my son and healing our family doesn’t have to become some endless Sisyphean task. It doesn’t have to become a seemingly futile effort to reach the summit. Instead of fighting my son, the health care system and the disease itself, I can be like this clever tree.
That tiny seed didn’t try to push the boulder uphill. It simply settled on a small patch of dirt on top of the boulder and rooted itself. Slowly, day by day, its roots crept over and around the boulder in a gentle embrace until the boulder became the foundation upon which a mighty tree could grow.
Some days it is enough to share a cup of coffee and a short conversation with my son. To simply be together as best we can. To find some moment of light and joy. To have just one good day. Maybe it’s taking him to the grocery store and rocking out to a song on the radio, going to a movie together or getting a short text message at the end of the day saying, “I love you, Mom.”
Every moment, every glimpse of grace roots us here together. We may never get to the summit, but we can grow into a rich and beautiful family tree. We can embrace the boulder and make it part of our strength instead of something that crushes us.
This is the gift of NAMI. To take an often difficult and painful struggle with mental illness and transform it into something beautiful. NAMI helps us to find hope, to see the beauty in our loved ones and to find meaning in this
journey. Please join us ( in donating to NAMI today and help keep this burden from crushing the 1 in 5 Americans and their families who live with mental illness.

We are as happy as we make up our minds to be.

– Abraham Lincoln

Carla Braund, editor
Vicki Mann, editor

MEMBERSHIP FORM 2016 please renew early in year
In order to keep the membership process streamlined, we prefer renewals to be processed early in the year. It is also possible to renew your membership online at Any questions or concerns please direct them to
Carla Braund, 724-888-6877 or All NAMI – Beaver County memberships include subscriptions to all four newsletters.

_____ Enclosed is my check for $35 for 2016 memberships in NAMI – Beaver County, NAMI, NAMI – PA, and NAMI – SW PA

_____ I am on a limited income. Dues are $3 for full membership.

_____ I wish to make a tax deductible donation of $ ________ to NAMI – Beaver County.

Please check one: □ Family member □ Consumer □ Mental health professional



Make checks payable to: NAMI – Beaver County
Send to: NAMI – Beaver County 1229 3rd Street — Beaver, PA 15009