NAMI presents awards at annual conference

Groups that work to reduce the stigma of mental illness and provide outstanding service were honored November 16 by the […]

Members of the Mental Health Crisis Alliance were on hand to receive the NAMI award.

Members of the Mental Health Crisis Alliance were on hand to receive the NAMI award.

Groups that work to reduce the stigma of mental illness and provide outstanding service were honored November 16 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Minnesota, at the organization’s annual conference at St. Paul RiverCentre.

NAMI of Minnesota presented HealthPartners and Regions Hospital with its Anti-Stigma Effort of the Year Award. The award recognizes an organization or individual for outstanding efforts to reduce stigma and break down barriers that lead to discrimination, shame and hopelessness.

“HealthPartners and Regions Hospital have made great strides in increasing public understanding of mental illnesses and promoting dignity and respect,” said Sue Abderholden, NAMI executive director.

“First, a beautiful new, person-friendly, mental health building at Regions Hospital was built, which had input from people who used the services. And not just the physical space was transformed, the staff worked hard to train and educate all the hospital staff to create a therapeutic and respectful environment for patients,” she said.

Abderholden cited the winner’s other accomplishments. “Then, the work moved to the general public with the launch of the MakeItOk campaign, which includes ads in magazines, radio and television. Most recently, the MakeItOk campaign leaders helped generate a series of documentaries on Twin Cities Public Television, where people shared recovery stories and provide hope for the future. The campaign helps the general public understand mental illnesses and promotes community awareness. The goal is to make it okay to talk about mental illness and to help people to know what to say when someone does share that they or a family member has a mental illness,” she said.

Donna Zimmerman, a leader in the MakeItOk campaign, accepted the award for HealthPartners and Regions Hospital.

Donna Zimmerman, a leader in the MakeItOk campaign, accepted the award for HealthPartners and Regions Hospital.

NAMI of Minnesota presented the Mental Health Crisis Alliance with the Provider of the Year Award. The award recognizes an organization that provides mental health services that demonstrates excellence, respect and best practices. The Crisis Alliance is public-private partnership that created a new level of care for adults experiencing a mental health crisis in the East Metro. Its work represents a partnership between people who use mental health services, counties, hospitals, health plans and the state of Minnesota. Their mission is to provide the right care at the right time to improve health outcomes and reduce system costs. “This innovative model—which uses trained peer specialists and has NAMI materials available for families is very deserving of this award,” said Abderholden.

In 2009, the Mental Health Crisis Alliance brought together stakeholders, always including persons who use mental health services, to develop a program model that would become a first-of-its kind, an urgent care for adult mental health. The new facility consolidates mental health crisis services for any adult in the east metro counties of Ramsey, Dakota and Washington.

Within the first year of operation in 2011, the Crisis Alliance was able to increase the number of people served by this new urgent care effort, reduce the inappropriate use of emergency departments and improve outcomes for the people served. Most importantly, more than 90 percent of the people surveyed who used the service said they were treated with respect, felt hopeful and would recommend the service to others.

NAMI Minnesota is a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families through its programs of education, support and advocacy.