Throughout my four years as a high school student, the subject of mental health was something that was rarely discussed in school. While we had many different educational assemblies about cultural awareness and being kind to others, we never once had a discussion about the importance of good mental health care. As someone who had struggled with their own mental health, this frustrated and confused me.

Netflix’s series "13 Reasons Why " has really gotten people talking! Parents, teens, teachers, school administrators, and mental health professionals are buzzing about whether the series raises awareness about suicide prevention, or if it does more harm than good in its depiction of high school bullying and teen suicide. With suicide as the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24, suicide prevention is an important and even life-saving topic.

We’ve been working on a list of “recommended reads” for the newsletter, and I chose not to include the book by Jay Asher, on which the series is based, because something about the description didn’t sit right with me.

Mental Health Month is almost over, but these book recommendations are good reads any time of the year! Here are just a couple "Staff Picks" of books that touch on mental health from NAMI Seattle for May and beyond. 

On an unprecedented sunny President’s day in Olympia, WA, the 2018 NAMI Lobby day took place beneath brilliant blue skies and the impressive shadow of our State Capitol’s legislative buildings.

Turtles All the Way Down is a clever, poignant, and – most-importantly – nuanced narrative about living with mental illness.

Recent immigrants to the United States face many barriers, including xenophobia, racism, and anti-immigrant legislation. When it comes to conversations about mental health, immigrants are often left out of the picture, even though studies show that many recent immigrants tend to have higher rates of mental health issues and face significant barriers to obtaining support to alleviate their mental health issues. This article illustrates the prevalence of mental health issues among recent immigrants, as well as what people can do to support recent immigrants.

Here at NAMI Seattle, we often talk about action items community members can participate in. One common request is for individuals to contact their legislators on matters relating to mental health. For example, after NAMI’s 2016 survey “The Doctor is Out” found that healthcare parity laws - the policies that require insurance to provide for mental healthcare in the same way they provide specialty and primary care – we asked members to contact their state insurance regulator to demand that their state be held accountable to parity laws.

Contacting state representatives, insurance regulators, senators, or other political and judicial affiliates is a helpful way to advocate for mental health rights. Unfortunately, our political system can be difficult to navigate and it can often become overwhelming trying to find the right contact information or even know exactly who you should be contacting.

The political process can at first seem intimidating. Having a disability can often make it more so. Since my illness makes it difficult for me to watch television or read the newspaper, I used to wonder, “How do I make sense of it all?” “What do the candidates have to offer me?” “What do I have to offer them?”

NAMI Washington has our annual convention and is not to be missed on Sept. 15th through 17th. Our convention is of comparable quality to the NAMI National Convention, but shorter and nearby.

This year our conference will be in Olympia at the Red Lion (RL).  At this upscale hotel we will hear speakers on a variety of essential topics.  For example, our own Ron Honberg who is our chief attorney at NAMI National will speak.  He takes a personal interest in NAMI Washington.  Always approachable and he even initiated a conversation with me at the recent National Convention is DC.  He will speak on Friday evening.

June 21, 2017

From the Executive Director's Desk

I have a lot of thoughts swirling around about Charleena Lyles. Whenever there is a story of someone being killed by police who had any mental health history, I prepare myself for the calls for comment our office will get the next day. I brace myself for headlines that refer to a community member with mental health issues as a "suspect" when they don't appear to have done anything wrong – and they aren't alive to tell their side of the story.