We Asked, You Answered: What Are You Grateful For?

After we shared a list of the reasons we are grateful this year, we asked our supporters to do the same. The responses have touched us and filled us with hope.

“I am grateful for having my son alive and stable at this time. He has had a tumultuous ride living with schizoaffective disorder, and we almost lost him…. He is a gourmet cook, empathetic listener, and a whiz at scrabble! I love him from the bottom, the top, and the middle of my heart.” — Deborah

“I’m grateful for NAMI!!! I appreciate all your encouragement and for making others aware of mental health issues. We all struggle with something but we’re not alone and the stories that are shared give hope to ALL!!” — sonflower1960

“My strength to keep going” — kate.landia

“Earlier this year, when my son had his first manic episode, was hospitalized in the psych ward and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I felt like my life was over. Today, my boy is stable and thriving, and feels more like himself every day. Our family, which had been shattered by the experience of watching him struggle, is very much on the mend again. Thank God for NAMI. Their 12-week family class and support groups helped me confront my shame about my son’s condition, and taught me that his bipolar disorder is as common and treatable as his sister’s nut allergy.” — Tim

“Thanks for my Nami Westside Los Angeles Family to Family Class helped me realize. I AM NOT ALONE!!!! Thanks 🙏Sharon Dunas..The Queen NAMI Warrior! And 💚Adaline & Ralph Fagen my NAMI Teacher’s and Friends Forever!!! — janisblack1

“Life” — jhayemusic

“Before I began attending the NAMI family support group, I was struggling with guilt and fear for my loved one. Now I have hope.” – Stef

“Family and friends.” – cultivatinggrowth

Want to share what you’re grateful for? Comment on our social media posts, post your own using #NAMIWLAGratitute or submit your answer via our form. We will continue to update this post with select answers.

Why We’re Grateful This Year

What a great year 2018 has been so far. How grateful are we? Let us count the ways.

  1. We had nearly 2000 participants at this year’s NAMIWalks, AKA the Los Angeles Make Waves in Mental Health fundraising walk, and we raised almost $500,000 for our programs! Nationwide, NAMI has raised $11.8 million. #KeepOnWalkin!
  2. There’s more state support for mental illness: California’s Prop 2 passed, with voters electing to fund housing for individuals with mental illness. Funds are expected to pay for 20,000 permanent supportive housing units with the No Place Like Home state program.
  3. More public figures and influencers are helping spread the word about the importance of mental health, including Lady Gaga (Depression), Demi Lovato (Bipolar Disorder) and LA Rams player — and NAMI ambassador — Gerald Everett.
  4. We provided support, strength and hope to more than 300 family members who attended our Family-to-Family classes and support groups this year. Special shout-out to our Co-President, Sharon Dunas, who taught two “F2F “classes this year, while also welcoming her first grandchild!
  5. There’s more federal support for mental illness: The U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary announced that states will be allowed to apply for Medicaid waivers to pay for mental health treatment in inpatient settings known as IMDs; and federal funding for mental health programs is being made available, including investments in research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Mental Health Block Grant, and for key programs at the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and Justice.
  6. Our Cure Stigma campaign continues to reach new individuals, with thousands taking the pledge.
  7. We have 7-10 young, bright, enthusiastic interns that either volunteer or receive course credit for contributing their time, energy, and passion to spreading awareness (they’re pictured, above).
  8. We featured a wide range of enlightening educational experts as part of our Janis Black Warner Speaker Series. We have the amazing Janis Black Warner to thank for making our Speaker Series possible.
  9. We gave hope, education, and opportunity for mutual support and positive impact through programs such as NAMI in the Lobby, Peer-to-Peer classes and Peer Connections Support groups. Our affiliate has reached well over a hundred peers this year.
  10. We stepped up efforts to end the silence, shame, and stigma that surrounds mental illness by bringing NAMI’s Ending the Silence program into seven westside schools this year, including New West Charter, Wildwood, and Beverly Hills High, with many more on tap for 2019.
  11. NAMI Westside LA has undergone an extreme makeover this year. We’ve got an energized board of directors and new dedicated office staff, including our fresh-faced interns (see #7 above). We’re also excited to be offering more robust programs for family members AND their loved ones with mental health conditions.
  12. Last but not least, our membership is growing and we’re super-excited to be part of the growing movement. We are expanding the community of people who recognize that mental health deserves more resources, focus, and attention. #JoinTheMovement

What are YOU grateful for? Share on social media with posts using the hashtag #NAMIWLAGratitude or submit using this form. We will share inspiring answers on our website and our social media platforms.

WANTED: Team Captains and Donations for NAMI Walks

NAMILAWalkIf you’re interested in creating a team of any size for the 2016 Annual NAMI LA Walk, please click the link, click Register Now on the NAMI LACC (Los Angeles County Council) page and create or join a team or make an easy online donation.  Or you can call or email us at any time for information on our annual NAMI Walk.  We will talk to you about how to recruit team members, raise money, and tips on ways to promote your participating. For questions or to RSVP, you can email us at (click the link to send an email), call us at 310.889.7200, contact the LACC Walk Manager, Shelley Hoffman by email at (click the link to send an email) or call Shelley at 310-571-5256

Click or Tap here to view the NAMI LACC Facebook page for Photos and Information about the Walk!

Making an online donation is easy, you can join and or donate to one of our NAMI Westside LA teams, Heal the Brain (Sharon Dunas), The Wright Step (Mitzi Wright), The Westside Walkers (Sylvia Thompson)  or directly at NAMI Walks Los Angeles by clicking or tapping any of the links.

Your donation of as little as $5.00 to NAMI LACC will benefit no cost programs for people impacted by mental health conditions.

Please join one of our teams, create your own team or help us with your tax deductible donation to educate families and fight the stigma attached to all forms of serious mental illness…

Directing Change

Directing Change


Lights… Camera… Mental Health!

West LA College and NAMI Westside LA are proud to host the DIRECTING CHANGE cinematic event.  We will be screening videos produced by high school and college students throughout California as part of a contest run by CalMHSA, the California Mental Health Services Authority.  This event is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).  Come to see what amazing works of art were created and bring mental health awareness to schools and college campuses everywhere!

When: Wednesday September 30th, 2016 – 6:00 PM
Where: West LA College
9000 Overland Ave
Culver City, CA 90230
Room GC 160 General Classroom Bldg
Parking: Parking Lot 5 (free parking)

Please RSVP for your FREE ticket and food voucher to or 310.488.6113


BrainAreasImprove Your Brain Power!

UCLA researchers want to learn more about the benefits of participation in a game-like internet training program designed to improve thinking skills such as memory, attention, and concentration.

Who is eligible?

Individuals who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia

What will you be asked to do?

You will start by participating in clinical interviewing and cognitive testing.  You will be assigned to either a computer training program or you will play computer games.  Both programs are designed to be challenging and fun!  All study activities will take place at UCLA.  The study requires frequent participation and takes place over a six month period.Your Read More Link Text

Hospitals Closing

Area Hospitals

In a recent issue of the NAMI Westside-LA newsletter, I wrote an editorial about the revolving door policy of many psychiatric wards. NAMI members know that it is usually difficult to get a relative placed on a 72-hour hold. If your relative is mentally unstable and would benefit from hospitalization, and doesn’t want to hospitalize himself, he or she needs to demonstrate that they are a danger to themselves or others, or are gravely disabled (i.e., unable to care for themselves), when the police or the psychiatric mobile response team responds to your call for help.  If your relative is able to hold it together for minutes, long enough to satisfy inquiries of authorities, nothing will be done. Often concerned caregivers have to call several times in order for the responding police and/or mental health workers to see the full, florid illness at work.

I Am Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help! How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment


IAmNotSickXavier Amador, Ph.D

Vida Press: 2010 10th Year Anniversary, 249 Pages
Language: English, Spanish

I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help: How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment

Dr. Amador is a clinical psychologist with over 25 years of experience. He is a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York City and the author of eight books including this national best seller I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! In addition to his books, Dr. Amador was co-chair of the last text revision of the schizophrenia and related disorders section of the DSM IV-TR and is internationally sought-after speaker.

Among his academic and impressive professional credentials, Dr Amador is a past member of the board of directors of The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and director of research at NAMI.

In this book’s latest edition, Dr Amador explains that of 6 million Americans who suffer from severe mental illness, 50% believe they don’t have a mental illness. It is because they don’t have insight, a symptom technically known as anosognosia. It is not an act of denial on the patient’s part, the doctor explains, but considered to be caused by a neurological deficit. It is a symptom of the brain disorder, and not a willful psychological state.

Lack of insight results in refusal of treatment, often medication non-compliance, leading to delusions or hallucinations, lack of personal hygiene and isolation. And for many, drug and or alcohol abuse follow.

The question is, how do we reach our loved one, friend, spouse or patient to get them to do what will be good for them? Although the cure for schizophrenia has not been found, in his book Dr Amador offers us invaluable tools that will help us improve the lives of those afflicted with the illness. Dr Amador’s technique is simple. It is called LEAP, for Listen, Empathize, Agree and Partner. Listening, without commenting or disagreeing. Empathy, meaning showing genuine emotion even in the face of a person’s delusions. Agreeing, in a neutral way. Partnering with the person to achieve shared goals.

Dr Amador’s technique is based on his own personal experience in an effort to better understand and improve communication with his brother, the late Henry Amador, who had schizophrenia.

I Am Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help! is a must for family members, friends, therapists, and members of law enforcement, medical doctors and service providers. It teaches us all how to better communicate and convince someone with mental illness to accept treatment. It is a book that shows us we are not alone, and a guide to the road of recovery for those afflicted with schizophrenia who do need our help.

Review by: Silvia Kloc

I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help: How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment

Kindle: I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment

People in Affluent Nations May Be More Depression-Prone


A new study from World Health Organization researchers suggests that people living in affluent countries, including the U.S., tend to have higher rates of depression than nations with lower-incomes such as Mexico. In nearly 90,000 people face-to-face interviews, researchers surveyed representative samples of people in 18 countries on five continents and assessed their history of depression using a standardized list of nine criteria. Click here to Read More from CNN…

NAMI National Welcomes New Executive Director

Mary GilibertiNAMI National Announcement

On behalf of NAMI’s Board of Directors, I am very pleased to announce that we have chosen Mary Giliberti to serve as the next Executive Director. Mary succeeds Mike Fitzpatrick, who announced this past January that he would be stepping down at the end of the year.

Prior to joining NAMI, Mary served as a section chief of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Before that she served as NAMI’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy from 2006 to 2009, working closely with NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates.