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NAMI Mass 1st to offer IOOV with ASL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 8, 2010

CONTACT: Laurie Martinelli

781-938-4048 or lmartinelli@namimass.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts is 1st in the Nation to offer NAMI’s In Our Own Voice program video with American Sign Language (ASL)

WOBURN, Mass – The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI-Mass) announced today that they have added American Sign Language interpretation to the In Our Own Voice (IOOV) program videotape.  NAMI-Mass is the first in the nation to offer IOOV with ASL.

In Our Own Voice:  Living with Mental Illness is a unique public education presentation that offers insight into the hope and recovery possible for people living with mental illness.   Trained individuals living with mental illness lead a brief, yet comprehensive and interactive, presentation about mental illness. In Our Own Voice is accompanied by a video and is meant for lay audiences, mental health professionals, police and schools alike.

The ASL-interpreted video was made possible with the assistance of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  NAMI-Mass would also like to acknowledge the involvement of Advocates, Inc. in this endeavor. “This project took about nine months to complete including research, meeting with providers and deaf and hard of hearing clients, and then the production of the video,” said Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director of NAMI-Mass.  “People who are deaf or hard of hearing are an underserved community.   We want to reach out and provide education programs and now we can.  Our next step in this project is to train people to be presenters who are deaf or hard of hearing and also have lived experience of mental illness.  Then NAMI National will offer the video throughout the country” concluded Martinelli.

“We couldn’t be more pleased and proud of this collaborative endeavor with our sister agency, the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and NAMI, said Commissioner Barbara A. Leadholm of the Department of Mental Health.  “This is a wonderful step for consumer empowerment and demonstrates a commitment to inclusiveness.”

Heidi L. Reed, Commissioner of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission also commented,

“Research reveals the harsh reality that Deaf and hard of hearing people have significant mental health risks for many reasons including barriers to communication, educational barriers, and lack of access to mental health treatment. This video responds to the urgent need for accessible information about mental health and service options and respects the importance of communicating knowledge and support through American Sign Language. We are very pleased to collaborate with NAMI-Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in making it possible for Deaf and hard of hearing people to share the wisdom and hope of In Our Own Voice.

Dr. Joyce Burland, Director, NAMI (National) Education, Training and Peer Support Center, commented,” NAMI congratulates NAMI-Massachusetts for its creative partnership with the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Department of Mental Health to develop this ASL version of the In Our Own Voice program, thereby extending the reach of NAMI’s recovery message to deaf and heard of hearing Americans with mental illness and their families.  It is a great step forward.”

With one in four Americans diagnosed with mental illness during their lifetimes and less than one-third receiving treatment, The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts provides education programs, support groups, a help and referral service, and grassroots advocacy to all those affected by mental illness in the Commonwealth, as well as raising awareness about these brain disorders, eliminating the stigma associated with mental illnesses and improving the mental health delivery system. Established over 25 years ago, NAMI-Mass has 22 affiliates located throughout Massachusetts and over 2500 members.

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