Santa Paula Times

Council: NAMI readying for fundraising, mental illness awareness walk

March 10, 2017
Santa Paula News

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Ventura County is readying to step out to raise money and awareness at its annual walk, the City Council learned at the March 6 meeting.

NAMI Executive Director David Deutsch told the council that the Ventura County NAMI is one of 63 such chapters in California out of almost 1,200 across the nation.

“NAMI is the largest grass roots” organization that advocates for services, “not only for those,” with mental illnesses, but also their family members.

NAMI, said Deutsch, is based on education, support and advocacy for mental wellness. 

The organization offers classes “To find out what is best to do for our loved ones without enabling them,” how to access resources and learn about mental illnesses and treatments. 

“Family involvement,” said Deutsch, “is the biggest single indicator of recovery,” for those with mental illness.

NAMI also offers Crisis Intervention Team training to law enforcement, including Santa Paula Police Officers and others as well as school-based programs including presentations on college campuses that feature peers with a mental illness.

Speakers also address junior and senior high school students about recognizing the early stages of mental illness and urge lessening the stigma so those that need it seek help.

However “There is still a lot of stigma,” said Deutsch. 

NAMI offers an array of support and programs for family members and those diagnosed with a mental illness and advocates to ensure, “Services are provided at the highest level as possible.”

Housing is also an issue tackled by NAMI, which offers services and programs in English and Spanish.

The organization “works closely with Ventura County Behavioral Health…we also partner with others,” noted Deutsch.

The annual NAMI Walk will be held May 6 at the Ventura Promenade.

According to the NAMI website: “Why do we walk?

“We walk to raise awareness of mental illness and the need for a world-class treatment and recovery system for people with brain disorders.

We walk to erase the shame and stigma associated with mental illness.

We walk to raise funds for NAMI Ventura County’s programs.”

The walk, said Deutsch, “raises more than 50 percent of our budget…because of that we offer all our services, all our programs at no charge.”

The walk also raises awareness to “Help people realize mental illness is very common; one in four adults,” have mental health issues, and, “when you factor in children it’s one in five. 

“It’s okay to talk about it, and seeking help and seeking treatment will help reach positive outcomes.”

The walk is a family event that also features face painting, an art show, T-shirt design contest and group photos; people are welcome to bring their pets and even dress them up said Deutsch.

NAMI of Ventura County only has two on the payroll, “Only myself and one other paid staff. We could not do what we do without volunteers.”

Awareness of NAMI and its services is very important: “As soon as there is an issue,” Deutsch hopes someone would be able to direct the family to NAMI, “The sooner the better, for them and better for the family.”

For more information about the walk and NAMI Ventura County call 805-641-2426. The Help Line for support, information and resources, is 805-500-6264.

You can also visit