Dr Kenneth Duckworth and Keris Jän Myrick, Medical Director and President, National Alliance on Mental Illness
As the largest grassroots mental health organisation in the US, NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, support and research for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Here, Dr Kenneth Duckworth and Keris Jän Myrick celebrate its successes to date and reveal exciting new developments underway.
How do you see the current mental health landscape in the US?
KJM: The US mental health system is fragmented and has been in crisis foryears. There has not been enough investment. From 2009-12, more than US $4 billion was cut from state mental health services. One in four American adults experience mental illness in any given year, but 60 per cent receive no treatment.
In this context, what is the goal of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)?
KJM: NAMI’s efforts focus on education, support and advocacy. We help people navigate the system and take care of themselves. We build public awareness and advocate for access to services. We want an evidence- and community-based system that’s orientated toward measureable outcomes and recovery. It also needs to be one that focuses on early interventions, not just crises.
Keris Jän Myrick, what are your official duties as President of NAMI, and how did you come to join the organisation?
KJM: I first learned about NAMI in a hospital as it was selected as a community support group on my discharge paperwork. I have lived the experience of mental illness and that of many NAMI members first-hand. My first official role was as co-President of NAMI’s San Gabriel Valley Affiliate in California. I then served on the state organisation’s board and as State Treasurer, before being elected to the national board.
As President, I chair NAMI’s national board of directors and serve as a major spokesperson. I raise or address both organisational and policy issues and work to build consensus on the board and throughout the NAMI movement. My style is inclusive, collaborative and innovative. My term as President ends in September 2014.
This is an excerpt from a longer feature published in International Innovation. To access in full, go to: http://www.research-europe.com/magazine/ISSUE/138/index.html