NAMI NH Spotlight - Annual Award Winners
Congratulations to all of the 2013 NAMI NH Annual Award Winners!
Louise Morin-Davy, PhD
Director of Child, Adolescent, and Family Services
Center for Life Management
As the Director of Child, Adolescent, and Family Services at the Center for Life Management (CLM) for over 10 years, Louise Morin-Davy is a champion and advocate for youth struggling with mental health issues and their families trying to navigate the challenging world of school and community mental health services. I first met Louise in the aftermath of a youth suicide, when she readily agreed to serve on a panel for a community gathering to promote awareness and to stress the importance of grief and loss, warning signs, and how to access local and national resources for help. Louise then became a big proponent to establish a formal working alliance between CLM and the school right on school grounds, which ultimately passed. Today, for the first time in the history of this community, there are wraparound services right on campus for youth seeking help for mental health issues, a huge leap forward in building a more effective collaborative relationship between school and community mental health resources. In like manner, Louise is a leader for her peers in other mental health centers across the state in trying to improve working protocols with NH Hospital for youth who need hospitalization. With the current shortage of inpatient settings, Louise seeks to optimize the utility of mental health resources which exist. She appears to take whatever action is needed to deliver the most effective, beneficial services for youth and their families, a true mental health administrator ministering to those she serves.
Survivor of Suicide Loss Outreach Provider
Since losing her brother to suicide in 1998, Susan Morrison has used her journey of healing to help educate and support others in New Hampshire. In 1998 suicide was rarely discussed openly and few supports were available. Over the past 6 years, Susan has worked diligently to change that. In 2007, Susan became a survivor of suicide loss (SOSL) outreach provider to offer individual support to new survivors. In 2009, she attended one of the first NAMI SurvivorVoices trainings and quickly became one of NH’s most active SOSL speakers sharing her story to educate about mental illness and risk factors and warning signs for suicide; to give survivors hope; and to provide encouragement that healing is possible. She has spoken at military trainings, college classes, statewide conferences, and media events. She has volunteered her time to co-lead NH SurvivorVoices trainings, has contributed to its development, and shares her personal story on a DVD that is integral to NAMI’s national best practice SurvivorVoices training. She helped found the NAMI Walk team TEAM SOS and has helped start and oversee a fund for suicide prevention and survivor efforts in NH. She participates regularly on the NH SOSL committee and provides a survivor perspective at NH suicide prevention events such as the annual conference, the Summit, the Suicide Prevention Council Retreat, and SOSL workshops. Susan combines her personal expertise as a SOSL and her professional expertise as an educator to be a powerful driving force behind both suicide prevention efforts and survivor supports in NH.
Mental Health Administrator Award
Dr. Betty Welch
Director of Elliot Hospital’s Behavioral Health Services
At a time when hospitals have been closing their inpatient psychiatric units and reducing services to individuals with mental illness, leadership and strong advocacy can be hard to find. In NH one strong advocate in this area has been Dr. Betty Welch who is the Director of Elliot Hospital’s Behavioral Health Services. Under Dr. Welch’s leadership, Elliot has shown an ongoing commitment to providing comprehensive mental health services including inpatient and outpatient, crisis response in their Emergency Department, and integrated health and mental health services in their primary care office locations. Trained as a psychologist, Dr. Welch has a particular expertise in the area of geriatric mental health. She also has never strayed far from her undergraduate degree in family studies and recognizes the importance of educating and engaging families about mental illness and recovery. As Director of Behavioral Health Services, Dr. Welch has insured that services at Elliot are family friendly and take a full lifespan approach. Dr. Welch has also been a leader in the area of suicide prevention and has been designated by the NH Hospital Association as their representative on the NH Suicide Prevention Council where she also serves as the co-chair of the professional practice committee. Elliot Hospital and the mental health service delivery system in NH have benefited greatly from Dr. Welch’s advocacy, leadership and work to improve the lives of all those impacted by mental illness.
Filmmaker in Residence at the UNH Institute on Disability
Dan Habib, Filmmaker in Residence at the UNH Institute on Disability for the “Media” Award. He has used filmmaking as the tool to document the lives of students with mental health challenges. Through his films he presents innovative educational approaches, including alternative discipline strategies that helps these students to succeed and improves the overall school culture and climate. Dan’s production of a full length documentary film Who Cares About Kelsey? and nine accompanying mini films have captured the experiences of students with mental health challenges within the public school environment. They have been the impetus of a much needed difficult dialogue to begin between families, youth, mental health providers, school personnel, policymakers and other community partners across the state that will improve the outcomes for our youth with mental health challenges. The film “Who Cares About Kelsey” has been screened more than 85 times in 22 states since its release in the fall of 2012 with 48 of those screenings being viewed by more than 2,850 people here in NH. “Dan has shown a passionate dedication to telling the stories of kids with disabilities, in a way that captures the public’s interest. He is a consummate story-teller and his dedication to a high quality product is unparalleled in my experience!
Systems Change Award
Grafton County Attorney
In 2008 stakeholders from Grafton County started to meet with the goal of creating a mental health court program in the county. These programs had been successful in the southern part of the state but never in the north. There was passion for creating this new program but it was clear that without funding we would never get it off the ground. Along the way the group attracted the attention of the county attorney Lara Saffo. Lara had experience with drug court and after sitting in on a few meetings she went to work to locate a grant that could make the mental health court program a reality. Writing and submitting a federal grant is not a simple endeavor. With each barrier that was presented Lara responded with innovative and creative ideas. She became the champion of this program. Without her drive and commitment to provide alternative sentencing we would still be sitting at that table trying to make this program a reality. That was two years ago and the programs are now active in the Lebanon and Littleton courts with future plans for Plymouth. Advisory boards are stepping up and strategies for sustainability are being created. It takes courage and commitment for a publicly elected official to make this type of bold step. Lara Saffo should be recognized for this courage and for her efforts to support treatment instead of incarceration for people with serious mental illness.
Law Enforcement Award
Chief David Mara
Manchester Police Department
For nearly forty years, senior officer have served on our Board and acted as our liaison with the Police. Currently that role is filled by Lt. Ron Mello, head of the Juvenile Division. In 2008 David Mara was appointed Chief of Police and under his leadership the Department has undertaken several initiatives that have enhanced a longstanding, positive and collaborative working relationship between our organizations. These include: A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) that was formed to more effectively respond to persons affected by mental illness. Fifteen officers have been trained by our Center and NAMI NH. Seven additional officers are about to be trained. Whenever possible, CIT officers are used to respond to “wellness checks” our staff requests. We can depend on that being done well; the police Prosecutor and other officers that have played key roles in the effective implementation of the community’s Mental Health Court; The new Community Policing Division playing a major role in the planning, implementation and operation of the new Homeless Service Center working closely with the Homeless Outreach Worker to engage homeless persons in need of mental health services; and the most recent statement issued by Chief Mara advocating for additional resources for community based mental health services. The Manchester Police are effective community partners and clearly support mental health as they “Serve and Protect”
Outstanding Family Volunteer Award
NAMI NH Family Volunteer
Audra Anderson found NAMI NH over four years ago as she was struggling with her children’s serious mental illness. She took the Parents Meeting the Challenge (PMC) course and recognized the importance of the family support and education that she received. And even while still dealing with her own family situation, she recognized that too many families were struggling alone and she chose to become involved. Audra went on to become a PMC teacher, then a family support group leader and most recently a trained Family to Family teacher. She co-facilitated a support group and has since started a new group in Lee. On top of these roles she has become active with the NAMI NH Citizen’s Advisory Committee at New Hampshire Hospital and is involved in the Family Fun Nights at the hospital to help direct families to NAMI NH for support. And if all of that was not enough Audra has taken on the new volunteer position of moderating the online message board and facilitating the new on line support group for families. Most recently she took the “Life Interrupted” family speakers training and is now sharing her story with groups to help reduce stigma and connect with families affected by mental illness. Audra is such a caring and compassionate person; she takes the time to reach out to any family in need and in her most gentle way, connects with them so they know they are not alone. Audra Anderson is a true unsung hero.