June 8th — Facebook Live with Virgil Stucker

Tune-In to NAMI TN on Facebook Live
3 PM Eastern
2 PM Central

Virgil is a visionary, mission-focused, non-profit leader with 30 years of experience focusing on the healing power of community, creativity, and philanthropy. He has served as Executive Director and President of seven not-for-profit organizations and founding board member of several others. He was also a turn-around agent for a health care system, a professor for master’s students in philanthropy and is a consultant to other visionaries. He helps good people and organizations accomplish great things through philanthropy and helps distressed families to find a recovery path for their loved ones with mental illness.

Mental Health Experience 
Virgil was President Emeritus of the CooperRiis Healing Community in 2017 after serving as founding Executive Director from 2003. Now that the leadership transition is complete, his therapeutic consultation practice is his way of continuing to improve mental health care, his career-long mission.


Don’t miss our next FACEBOOK LIVE with special guest Sean McPherson

MONDAY, June 1
3 PM Eastern
2 PM Central

Hosted by Gabe Howard.

Join the conversation! Submit your questions, share your thoughts as we discuss children, trauma and mental illness. We want to know how you are coping. 

Sean McPherson
SPE-HSP, Chief Clinical Officer
Sean McPherson, has joined TN Voices as the Chief Clinical Officer. He has 18 years of experience in the behavioral health field serving as a Case Manager, Therapist, Diagnostician and Administrator having worked in residential youth care, community mental health and prison mental health. Sean specializes in work with the severe and persistent mentally ill, program development, crisis management and innovative treatment approaches. He earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from David Lipscomb University, a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Trevecca University and is currently licensed as Senior Psychological Examiner.


Being a Caregiver on Facebook Live with Sita Dieh

Tune-In to NAMI TN on Facebook Live
3 PM Eastern
2 PM Central

“We recognize that people living with mental illness face additional challenges dealing with COVID-19, as do their caregivers and loved ones.”

When a friend or family member develops a mental health condition, it’s important to know that you’re not alone.

Facebook Live is now sponsored by United Healthcare Community Plan

Commentary: Pandemic brings mental health toll, PTSD

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Alisa Lapolt, Director of Policy & Advocacy at NAMI Tennessee, the National Alliance on Mental Illness

There’s a statistic that mental health advocates frequently use when discussing the prevalence of mental illness: At least one in five individuals will experience a mental health challenge in any given year.

That challenge could range from situational anxiety and depression to more debilitating conditions such as schizophrenia.

Despite the large segment of the population that struggles with mental health challenges, there is a loneliness that comes with mental illness. And the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its quarantines and social distancing is deepening those feelings of loneliness and isolation in individuals with mental illness.

Unlike other diseases, mental illness carries a stigma against the person who has the condition. You would never tell a cancer patient to “just smile and get over it.” But too often, people mistakenly believe mental illness can simply be overcome with “positive thinking” and individuals with the diagnosis just need a “better outlook” on life. That thinking makes it difficult for people with mental illness to speak openly about their condition and connect with people about what they are feeling and experiencing.

They’ll often hide the condition from their bosses and co-workers out of fear that they will lose out on raises or promotions. Individuals who have been released from treatment can tell you how difficult it is to rent a house or an apartment if their condition is revealed.

The inward retreat that accompanies mental illness is now intensified by quarantines and stay-at-home orders. COVID-19 is creating more stress and anxiety among people whose daily routines and lives are in upheaval. Many have lost jobs and fear financial ruin. Others fear contracting the virus, while news reports of deaths create additional worry.

Already, reports out of East Tennessee show that suicide rates have increased in that part of the state. The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network indicates that the number of people contacting their crisis line has increased 63 percent from March 2019 through March of this year.

There is a slow but steady recognition of the toll this pandemic is bringing to not only the physical health but the mental health of our friends, neighbors, families and co-workers.

The US Centers for Disease Control, which is the at the epicenter of the pandemic in our country, maintains a website with statistics about the coronavirus and devotes equal time to educating the public about the mental health implications it brings.

There’s a great opportunity to build “communities of resilience” in which communities evaluate and build upon their assets during and after a disaster.

Earlier this week, FEMA announced that it would be awarding Tennessee additional fundsto assist individuals and communities in recovering from the psychological effects of COVID-19. The money will go to community-based outreach and educational services, according to a FEMA news release. The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services received a $2 million federal grant to evaluate and expand crisis services, the Behavioral Health Safety Net, and substance abuse treatment and recovery services over the next 16 months

While federal and state leaders fund and implement additional services, it’s critical that city and county government leaders consider ways to augment the efforts locally. As residents begin to resume activities, it’s important to recognize that many will begin exhibiting the signs of mental health challenges including PTSD from this experience, however long the pandemic lasts.

There’s a great opportunity to build “communities of resilience” in which communities evaluate and build upon their assets during and after a disaster. The structure includes outreach and education of at-risk individuals and communication and collaboration among service providers and stakeholders.

COVID-19 has changed the way we work and live, but it may very well change the way we look at mental health and wellness.

NAMI Tennessee has created a twice-weekly newsletter called NAMI at Home which includes tips and strategies for maintaining mental wellness while in isolation. Sign up for our e-News at www.namitn.org.


NAMI Family-to-Family Volunteer Teacher Training

Download and share
NAMI Family-to-Family is a free, 8-session educational program for family, significant others and friends of people with mental health conditions. It is a designated evidenced-based program. This means that research shows that the program significantly improves the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to a person with a mental health condition.

NAMI Family-to-Family is taught by NAMI-trained family members who have been there, and includes presentations, discussions and interactive exercises.

What You’ll Gain

NAMI Family-to-Family not only provides information and strategies for taking care of the person you love, but you’ll also find out that you’re not alone. Recovery is a journey, and there is hope. The group setting of NAMI Family-to-Family provides mutual support and shared positive impact—experience compassion and reinforcement from people who understand your situation. Sharing your own experience may help others in your class. In the program, you’ll learn about:

  • How to solve problems and communicate effectively
  • Taking care of yourself and managing your stress
  • Supporting your loved one with compassion
  • Finding and using local supports and services
  • Up-to-date information on mental health conditions and how they affect the brain
  • How to handle a crisis
  • Current treatments and therapies
  • The impact of mental health conditions on the entire family

Interested in Registering?

Contact: Denise Stewart
Toll Free: 800-467-3589, ext 313
Cell: 615-810-1496

NAMIWalks Your Way

Dear NAMI Supporters and Friends,A virtual NAMIWalks? Yes.   You might have thought we were going down that road — as in a walk without a road — and you would have been right. NAMIWalks is going to be a little different this year. We’re not canceling it, not when our collective mental health needs are at their greatest. The NAMIWalks community knows how to think on our feet. Instead of canceling the walk, which would reduce funding when our programs and advocacy are needed more than ever, or even postponing it, we are pleased to announce a walk for our times, NAMIWalks Your Way.

It’s like the regular NAMIWalks, only virtual and with a greater reach: the reach of your imagination, the depth of your compassion. With many NAMIWalks presented at the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, on the same day (May 30), it promises to be a day to remember. With such a united effort, we’re guessing that it will be easier than ever to fundraise, too.

NAMIWalks Your Way means what it sounds like: With so many of our lives compromised and constrained, you get to make NAMIWalks your own. You can walk around your block, you can walk around your garden, you can walk with a wok in your kitchen. If you work from home, now you can walk at home. You can stand on your head. You can a form a team and see who is the funniest, fastest or most artistic. You can “Hula hoop for hope.” You can self-fundraise while you self-quarantine — or do it as part of a team.

We will be sharing more information on how you can take part in our virtual event in the upcoming weeks on our website https://NAMIWalks.org/Tennessee. In the meantime, focus on your self-care and staying healthy. And keep up that sense of humor…it’s good for all of us.   Together we’ll continue to work toward our goal of Mental Health for All.

With all our best wishes,   Anna Collins, NAMIWalks Tennessee Coordinator