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National Alliance on Mental Illness, California State Organization
Welcome Members and Affiliates
We welcome your ideas for topics to cover, your feedback on issues that face consumers, families, and providers across the state. Contact us at

Crisis for 20,000 Children and Their Families

AB 3632By mid-January, 20,000 children and their families will be thrown into chaos and crisis. On October 8, 2010, Governor Schwarzenegger line item vetoed $133 million in federally mandated mental health services to children with disabilities. Many counties are no longer taking new referrals. Soon all will be left to search for these services on their own.

AB 3632 was enacted in 1984 as a response to a federal court case that found parents of special education children were systematically denied access to quality mental health services and therapeutic out-of-home placements for their children unless parents surrendered them to the custody and control of the State. AB 3632 has prevented the inappropriate severance of parental control and reduced hospitalizations. It has saved many from becoming entangled with our costly juvenile justice system, a likely destination for kids in need of mental health treatment who are left unserved. Families who are receiving these educationally necessary services for their children will have few, if any, alternatives in seeking assistance. Additionally, this action may place California out of compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which could put all federal funding for special education services at risk.

Three lawsuits have been filed. All revolve around the issue of a state that refuses to meet its mandate and counties that can no longer absorb unfunded costs. Legislative action could render these lawsuits unnecessary. NAMI California has joined a mental health community stakeholder letter urging the restoration of AB 3632 funding, and we will be distributing a sample action letter urging you to write "The Big Six." On behalf of AB3632 families statewide, NAMI California implores you to join this important year-end advocacy and write your legislative leadership.

-- Mark Gale

NAMI California Government Affairs and Public Policy Committee, Chair

Mental Health Recovery: What are you thankful for?
gratitudeEach month, NAMI California members will have an opportunity to send a brief article (150 words or less), describing success stories. All information is due on the last Thursday of each month by email to Jessica Cruz, Assistant Executive Director. Please do not include personal references unless you have received prior authorization.

Mental health recovery means hope and a future. This year our family is very thankful for the MHSA funded programs that have been implemented throughout California. Since our son was accepted in a county mental health court program, our entire family has encountered remarkable improvements in our overall health and our family relationships.
Next week will be a six week benchmark of sobriety for our son, and although life has many uncertainties, today my family and I our thankful for the opportunity to participate in such a successful recovery program that treats us all with dignity and respect.

After nineteen years of battling co-occurring diseases, our son's comment say it all, "I can finally see clearly the road ahead, and it looks good".

-- NAMI California Board Member

I have much to be thankful for. I am blessed with two wonderful talented sons, one of whom experienced a severe brain disorder when he was a teen. As a result of his illness over the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to help hundreds of families survive the traumas of having a mental illness in their family by being an advocate. For 15 years, mental illness has brought my knees closer to the ground and as a result I have developed a wonderful relationship with my God. My prayers helped drown out the years of incarceration, homelessness, sick worry, family division and restraining orders

Today I have much to be joyful about. I feel like shouting from my rooftop. You see, two months ago my son realized that he did indeed have a mental illness. As a result of that, he is actively pursing recovery. He attends several recovery classes a day, religiously takes his meds, is living on his own with a roommate, attends church, is learning how to cook and is welcome in our home once again. I am so proud of him. There is nothing more that I could possibly want than my son to continue on his path of learning. Yes, I have much to be thankful for.

-- NAMI California Board Member

I have a lot to be thankful for every day! I have a brother that was first diagnosed more than 45 years ago. For more than 40 years he has been here in Orange County, California. Until four years ago, I had never heard of NAMI. In one of his manic episodes, I had out my yellow pad and was writing down names and phone numbers as fast as I could and from any source that was willing to give me information. Eventually, he was 5150-ed and hospitalized. The mania subsided and I forgot about my yellow pad with its names and numbers. About two months later I got a phone call from a very pleasant lady telling me that the Family to Family class that  I had expressed interest in was about to start. I didn't remember expressing any interest in a class, much less one that would last twelve weeks, but the caller was pleasant and I agreed to go--at least to the first one.

At the first meeting I entered a room set for about 20 people and took my place at the table with more than a little skepticism. About 15 minutes later I realized that for the first time in my life I was sitting in a room full of people who knew exactly what I had been living through for 40 years. I seldom encountered a soul that understood, let alone a roomful. I was so impressed that I returned the following week. My granddaughter, who is bipolar, gained entry because there were other members of her family who also are challenged with mental illness. Melissa and I completed the class. Being slow learners, we implored the powers that be to allow us to take it again; they did and we did. It was a wonderful experience for each of us and for both of us together.

Melissa and I then took the training to be Family to Family teachers and teachers of the Provider class as well. Having completed both, we are teaching Family to Family classes and Provider classes regularly. I know that working together has been good for me, good for Melissa, and good for our relationship. I trust that there is an equal benefit for the members of our classes.

For the last four years I have been using what I have learned to better understand my brother and his illness. We see each other on a regular basis and talk with each other many times a week. Through NAMI, I have learned to channel my grief into advocacy. I have learned to separate my brother from his illness and I have found a friend.

-- A Southern California NAMI Member.

2011 NAMI California Conference

Double TreeThe Conference Committee Workgroup is getting ready to prepare for our conference next year. We had a great conference this year and want to make it even better this coming year. In addition to our regular programming, we plan to sponsor a bus trip to the State Capitol so that we can advocate for mental health advancements. For this reason, we are hosting the conference at the Double Tree Inn, Sacramento.

If you have ideas or would like to be on our work group, we welcome your participation. Being a Committee Workgroup member would entail a toll-free conference telephone call in the late afternoon during the work week, every two weeks, and eventually every week for about an hour. Access to a computer would be helpful, but not a must. The more ideas the better the outcome!

If you have any questions or would like to sign up, contact:

Coleen Peters

2011 Conference Committee, Chair

NAMI California Board of Directors


NAMI California Joins Supreme Court Amicus Brief
high courtOn November 1, 2010, NAMI California and NAMI National joined the American Psychiatric Association, et al. as Amici Curiae in a "Friend of the Court Brief" filed in support of the Appellees in a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court entitled Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of the State of California, et al. vs. Plata/Coleman, et al.

As many of you are already aware, California's  prison system was placed under the authority of a Federal Receiver in June 2005 as a result of two class action law suits.The "Plata" case referenced medical care and the "Coleman" case referenced mental health care. In order to not violate the "cruel and unusual punishment" provisions of the Eighth Amendment, the state is required to provide at least a minimally acceptable level of health care -- including mental health care -- to California's prison inmates. A special three-judge court under the rules of the Prison Reform Litigation Act was convened to address overcrowding issues in the California prison system. The Court  determined that overcrowding is the primary cause of continuing constitutional violations resulting from the state's failure to provide minimally adequate health and mental health care treatment to prison inmates. Thus, the Court ruled that California must reduce overcrowding (by any means available) in order to deliver constitutionally adequate health care to prison inmates..

The State of California appealed the ruling, asserting that the order by the three judge court to reduce overcrowding was impermissible under the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).This is the question before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

It is the opinion of both NAMI California and NAMI National that as stated in the conclusion of the Amicus Brief, "the evidence that overcrowding renders resources and access inadequate thus supports the ruling..." that "the judgment of the three-judge district court should be affirmed."

The Amicus Brief filed by NAMI-California, NAMI-National and colleague organizations can be viewed here.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case on Tuesday, November 30th. We will provide you with an update when the Supreme Court announces its decision. 

-- Mark Gale
NAMI California Government Affairs and Public Policy Committee, Chair
NAMI California Criminal Justice Workgroup, Chair
Family to FamilyNAMI Family to Family Update

November was a busy month for the Family to Family program. Most of the 12-week classes from around the state finish during this time period. There were also two Family to Family teacher trainings, one in Santa Barbara and the other in Elk Grove (Sacramento).

Here is what one participant from the training class said: "Thank you so very much for sharing this info with me. It was very intense.  I appreciate the knowledge the teachers shared and the personal time they gave here to be with our class."

 MHSOAC Update
Statewide community partners joined together to stand against against disbanding the CFLC and CLCC and outlined recommendations that would help to strengthen the participation of clients and family members and those from unserved and underserved communities.

Panel on Criminal Justice Issues

As a result of the panel and the participation of NAMI members, the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission expressed interest in moving forward with more decisive action to improve the circumstances of those who become involved in the criminal justice system.

PEI Statewide Programs

The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) is currently involved in the development and administration of the Prevention and Early Intervention Statewide Programs regarding Stigma and Discrimination Reduction, Suicide Prevention, and Student Mental Health. For more information on CalMHSA and the development of these programs, visit the CalMHSA website at

Broadway musical "Next To Normal", co-sponsored by NAMI San Diego
The New York Times
calls Next To Normal, "A brave, breathtaking musical. A work of muscular grace and power. It is much more than a feel-good musical; it is a feel-everything musical."

San Diego 2011 Performance Schedule
Tuesday, January 18, 7:00 PM
Wednesday, January 19, 7:00 PM
Thursday, January 20, 7:30 PM
Friday, January 21, 8:00 PM * NAMI SAN DIEGO NIGHT and Meet the Cast!
Sunday, January 23, 6:00 PM

868 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

To order your discount ticket that supports NAMI San Diego, click here, then follow the Special Offer link and, when prompted, enter the Special Offer Code, "NAMISD."

christiansenNAMI Stanislaus
NAMI Stanislaus member, also a Peer to Peer mentor, James D. Christiansen, has a solo six month art display at the Goldware Family Library 2nd floor, University of California, Riverside Alumni and Visitor Center, 3701 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside, CA.

Christiansen acknowledges some of the challenges and concerns in his art related to mental wellness in the 31 piece show that runs November 22 through May 11, 2011.

The artist invites NAMI members to visit the UCR Alumni Center showing and the five pieces currently up at California Institute of Mental Health in Sacramento. Originals are available for purchase.

NAMI San Mateo County

NAMI San Mateo County completed our fall Family to Family, Peer to Peer and Provider Education programs. Our volunteers all did a wonderful job. We were also excited to launch our Parents and Teachers As Allies program. Thirty school professionals attended the presentation. We will be offering all these programs in the first quarter of 2011. Please call our San Mateo office at 650-638-0800 for details. Happy Holidays!
Contact Information
or call NAMI California
(916) 567-0163
In This Issue
Crisis for 20,000 Children
Mental Health Recovery: What are you thankful for?
2011 NAMI California Conference
NAMI California Joins Supreme Court Amicus Brief
NAMI Family to Family
Affiliate News


NAMI California's Tree of Tribute
tree of tribute
Each year many donors elect to give a gift in celebration of an event, in honor of a special individual or in memory of a loved one.

The Tree of Tribute formalizes this tradition by providing a lasting acknowledgement
for individuals who are remembered, individuals who are honored or have an enduring record of a significant celebration. 
Gifts in Celebration, in Honor or in Memory

Gifts of $500 or more will be eligible for an engraved leaf on the Tree of Tribute or an engraved stone at the base of the tree.

$500 - Bronze leaf
$1,000 - Silver leaf
$2,000 - Gold leaf
$3,000 -- Small stone
$5,000 - Large stone

Major Donors

I California thanks the following for their very generous contributions of $500 or more.

Humanitarian: $5,000 - $15,000
The Commu
nity Foundation, Riverside, CA
Mitch Francis, (location withheld on request)

Patron:  $
2,500 - $4,999

Benefactor:  $1,000 - $2,499
Rita Jean Boppana, Playa Del Rey, CA
Attias Family Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Mountain View, CA
Frances Tibbits, Pacific Palisades, CA
Carla Jacobs, Tustin, CA
Betty & Marvin Hoffernberg, Pacific Palisades, CA

Shareholder: $750-$999

Sponsor:  $500-$749
Teresa A Walker, San Mateo, CA
Stephen Dwelle, President, Dwelle Family Foundation, Visalia, CA
Edward Gaston, MD & Lori Zager,San Rafael, CA
Margaret C. Winrich, Kelseyville, CA
Elaine Zelnik, Berkeley, CA
Doris Crowell, Walnut Creek, CA
Jeannette Lowe, Washoe Valley, NV
Pamela Zelnik & Mark Suhr, Berkeley, CA
Elizabeth L Friedman, Los Angeles, CA
Elizabeth Chamberlain, Woodside, CA
Mr. & Mrs. Michael Aldrich, Glendale, CA
John & Beverly White, Brentwood, TN
John J Krolewski & Nadia Ghent, Irvine, CA

Mark & Theresa Gale, West Hills, CA
Frances Tibbits, Pacific Palisades, CA
Christopher & Mary Folck Family, Truckee, CA
Glen & Linda Meyer, Danville, CA
Nancy Doyle, Santa Rosa, CA
Stephen & Jacqueline Astle, San Rafael, CA
Elizabeth S. Holden, Eugene. OR
Loeb Family Foundation
Linda K. Pontious, Grass Valley, CA
Elizabeth Chamberlain, Woodside, CA
Gunnar Christiansen, MD, Santa Ana, CA
Venona & John Levine, Walnut Creek, CA
Ralph Nelson, Visalia, CA
Victoria Link, Rolling Hills Estates, CA
Mark Gale, West Hills, CA
Ronald & Pat StoneModesto, CA
Palmyra Cameron, Los Angeles, CA
Virginia Whitcombe, Palos Verdes Estates, CA
Monika & David Eisenbud, Berkeley, CA


All donations,
large and small,
are greatly appreciated by
NAMI California and help
us achieve our mission
at the state level.
state advocacy link

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