Peer Led Art Program at NAMI Toledo

Peer Led Art Program at NAMI Toledo

Art is more than something that hangs on a wall. In Toledo, art is helping people with mental illness get in touch with their feelings, communicate with others, and improve their self-esteem.

The Creative Expressions program pioneered by NAMI of Greater Toledo is engaging about 1,000 people each year in a variety of volunteer-led art activities. Started in 2014, the program allows people to express themselves through art, make a connection, and grow positive skills, according to Kristen L. Zientek, program coordinator for NAMI of Greater Toledo.

Funded in part through the Mental Health Services and Recovery Board of Lucas County, Creative Expressions began working with adults, children and families in the criminal justice system as well as the Latino population. However, it has now expanded dramatically to include Toledo Public Schools, LGBT teens, runaway teens and individuals with developmental disabilities, Zientek said.
While peer-led, Creative Expressions has a licensed art therapist, Carol Coder, on board with the program.

Zientek said volunteers pick a theme, usually one related to mental health support, such as self-esteem. The art projects evolve from the theme, such as one where participants added affirming statements to mirrors to look at themselves in a more positive way.

“At the end, they share a little bit about their projects. They are talking about their projects, but they’re really talking about themselves as well,” Zientek said. “Sometimes people can express themselves with colors and images better than words.”

About 1,000 people are involved in 13 on-going art groups, with some folks involved in more than one group.

Doing art in a no-pressure, no-judgment environment “reduces stress, helps builds connections with others who might be isolated. It’s free and all materials are provided,” she said. “There’s not a lot of programs that are free and fun. A lot of people say they like that it’s peer-led. They feel like are part of something. It helps empower them. If they’re hesitant about something, it helps them step out of their comfort zone.”
Sarah Bradish, a volunteer with Creative Expressions and NAMI, said she started in July of 2016. “Since NAMI has helped me get through so much of my mental health wellness journey, I figured it was time for me to give back.”

Sarah said volunteering with Creative Expressions “gave me hope on sharing what talents I have with our community…. It helped me come out of my shell and eased my transition of being in public. The program helped me grow to be a consistent dependable person. It also prepared me to use important life skills of working with others and troubleshoot problems as needed.”

The growth Sarah experienced through NAMI helped her to begin working again at a part-time job, she said. She continues to volunteer with Creative Expressions “because the community needs a program like this. There are a lot of creative people out there that need more than a ‘talk’ support group. It is great seeing people of all ages learn a new skill, help them open up, ask questions, break the stigma, and learn that there are people like me that can get healthy and contribute. I’m so thankful for this program! It is truly a life-changing experience. I thought being diagnosed with a mental illness would keep me from having a better life. I am proof that people can change, learn new ideas, learn new skills, and lead by example.”

For a video look at the Creative Expressions program, follow this link:

More information about Creative Expressions is available by calling NAMI of Greater Toledo at 419 243-1119 or online at

Open Position: Director of Public Policy and Advocacy

Director of Public Policy and Advocacy

As the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, you will be responsible for the execution of strategies designed to advance NAMI Ohio’s public policy goals. Primarily, you work directly with the NAMI Ohio Executive Director to develop policy and advocacy initiatives to deepen advocacy engagement and improve access to mental health care.

This position will work with NAMI Ohio affiliates, partners and funders to develop proposals and work plans focused primarily on educating the public and elected officials about the issues, building a diverse set of stakeholders to support the work, collecting stories and data, and developing capacity of the organization and partners to engage in public policy efforts that support mental health advocacy goals.

You will be expected to have a working knowledge about mental health policy, strong communications and public speaking skills, and experience driving advocacy campaigns.

In your role, you will work collaboratively to advise and support the execution of grant goals and strategies and will participate in the development of training opportunities and events.  You will communicate policy and advocacy priorities with internal and external stakeholders and work with a range of other staff within the NAMI organization.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES/ESSENTIAL DUTIES OF POSITION: An individual must be able to perform each essential duty listed below at a satisfactory level:

  • Manage all components of large grants, including tracking activities, managing the project budget, writing reports and proposals, and executing/supporting sub-grants.
  • Build and manage relationships with grantees to provide targeted supports, technical assistance and consultation in an effort to increase their capacity to engage in advocacy on these issues.
  • Write and distribute reports, articles, briefs, and memoranda on issues related to mental health access.
  • Spotlight and disseminate best practices and knowledge to local NAMI affiliates.
  • Organize, participate in, and conduct trainings, webinars, and conferences to build awareness and knowledge on mental illness and related issues.
  • Cultivate relationships with national and state leaders and partners.
  • Other duties as assigned.


Minimum requirements include a Bachelor’s degree and at least 5 years of advanced-level experience in public policy advocacy. Familiarity with the NAMI network and state policy landscape is strongly preferred. Postgraduate degree preferred. The role also requires health policy knowledge, advocacy skills and abilities; excellent verbal and written communication skills; an ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment, build relationships, and work collaboratively; and excellent project management and Microsoft Office Suite skills.

Full-time position. Competitive salary. Benefits package offered.

Email cover letter and resume to . No calls to the office.

Elevating mental health on the world stage

Mental health and substance use disorders are the top cause of disability worldwide, but only a quarter of people who need mental health services get them. NIMH & other groups are spearheading many interventions to expand the reach of mental health care. 

All too often, countries with the fewest mental health providers also have the most stressors, including violence, poverty, forced migration, social unrest and political instability. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), even though mental health and substance use disorders are the top cause of disability worldwide, only a quarter of the people who need mental health services get them.

“Mental disorders are the most neglected of the global health problems,” says Vikram Patel, MBBS, PhD, a psychiatrist and professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School.

That’s slowly changing as the field of global mental health gains prominence. Psychologists are among the health-care professionals working to improve mental health in parts of the world touched by poverty, disaster and war. To close the mental health treatment gap, they’re training community health workers to deliver psychosocial interventions and developing new models for delivering care in low- and middle-income regions.

“In the last few years, evidence-based treatments [in global mental health] have been scaling up and gaining steam,” says Deepa Rao, PhD, a clinical psychologist, professor and associate director of the global mental health program at the University of Washington in Seattle. “There are a lot of success stories.”

Expanding access to care

The global mental health field got a big boost in 2013, when WHO launched the first global mental health action plan with the support of health ministers worldwide. “That plan was a landmark,” says psychiatrist Shekhar Saxena, MD, formerly of WHO and now a professor of global mental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Since then, there’s been an uptick in attention, resources and political commitment devoted to global mental health, he adds.

The field is undoubtedly interdisciplinary, but psychologists are essential to many of these efforts. Groups including WHO and the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) are spearheading many interventions on the ground, nonprofits such as United for Global Mental Health provide advocacy and funding support, and academic scientists are making strides on the research side, Saxena says. One of the most important developments has been the finding that lay health workers can be trained to deliver sophisticated psychological interventions to improve mental health, says Brian J. Hall, PhD, a clinical psychologist and global mental health researcher at the University of Macau in China. “People without extensive and specialist training in psychology are delivering interventions to members of their own community. This innovation expands access to care.”

In a systematic review of 27 trials, Patel and colleagues found that psychological treatments delivered by community health workers or peers in primary-care settings had moderate to strong effects in reducing the burden of mood disorders in low- and middle-income countries (Singla, D.R., Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2017).

When health workers can deliver treatments for common problems such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, they reach more patients—and free up the few mental health specialists to address more complex problems. “We’re not talking about substituting psychologists, but extending mental health care to people who aren’t getting any care,” Patel says.

Scaling up

Now, organizations and governments are working to expand the availability of such interventions. NIMH has established 10 “Scale-Up Hubs” to study how to expand the reach of mental health care and foster evidence-based mental health policy in low-resource settings.

Rao, for example, is a principal investigator within the southern Africa hub. With psychologists Inge Petersen, PhD, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Arvin Bhana, PhD, at the South African Medical Research Integrating mental and physical health care not only improves mental health, it also helps people with chronic illness engage in care and adhere to medications.

Council, she is training nurses and other health-care workers in primary-care settings in South Africa to deliver cognitive­behavioral therapies to treat depression in people with diabetes, HIV and other chronic diseases. Integrating mental and physical health care not only improves mental health, it also helps people with chronic illness engage in care and adhere to medications, Rao says. “We’re trying to build a sustainable model where psychotherapy is the norm in treatment.”

In another example of an NIMH-funded scale-up project, psychologist Kimberly Hoagwood, PhD, at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, and colleagues are studying family group interventions for children with disruptive behaviors in several African countries, comparing the effectiveness of group programs led by family peers versus community health workers (Kivumbi, A., et al., BMC Psychiatry, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2019).

Global mental health professionals are also trying to make mental health care more accessible by distilling interventions down to their essential components and finding ways to deliver them in as few sessions as possible. “There’s a big push to understand how short we can get these treatments and what the key mechanisms of action are,” says Laura Murray, PhD, a psychologist and professor in the department of mental health and international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Mental health problems often go hand in hand with poverty, interpersonal violence and substance use, Murray notes, so it’s more efficient to target multiple problems at once. She and her colleagues developed a multiproblem approach called the Common Elements Treatment Approach (CETA), which can be customized to address symptoms of depression, anxiety and traumatic stress, as well as substance use and violence. It’s usually delivered in eight sessions but can be made longer or briefer as needed. In initial trials, Murray and her team found CETA effective in Ethiopia, Iraq, Thailand and Zambia, among other countries (Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2014; Global Mental Health, Vol. 5, article e16, 2018). The intervention is now being rolled out and evaluated in other locales. “One rarely ever sees one mental health problem alone,” she says. “We developed CETA to address multiple problems.”

Cultural sensitivity

While Western psychotherapies often form the basis of mental health treatment programs, global mental health workers take care to adapt them in culturally sensitive ways. Health workers using a tool like cognitive reprocessing—in which people learn to identify and reframe unhelpful thoughts—might have to take a storytelling approach in some African countries or draw on biblical examples in religious communities. Whereas psychologists help local providers understand the core elements of a psychotherapeutic intervention, local team members take the lead on shaping those elements for their population. “You don’t have to invent entirely new treatments to be culturally sensitive, but you have to be flexible and adjust the implementation,” Murray says.

Psychologists have a lot to offer the field, says Hall, who is working with WHO to culturally adapt and test digital mental health innovations for migrant workers in China and Chinese adults. But to excel, he adds, psychologists need to practice cultural humility and embrace working in multidisciplinary settings with psychiatrists, primary-care physicians, public health experts and other health-care workers from different cultures and backgrounds.

Most opportunities for global mental health training at U.S. institutions are found in departments of public health, and aren’t always well integrated into psychology training, says Murray. But more psychologists are getting involved, and dedicated training opportunities are helping them dive in—including the APA–International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS) Global Mental Health Fellowship, which provides an opportunity for a psychologist to contribute to the work of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse for one year.

And psychologists’ contributions to the emerging field are vital—in research, diagnostics, training, treatment and policy advice, says Saxena. “Psychologists can and should play a very large role in global mental health.”

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NAMI Wood County – Volunteer Program

When NAMI Wood County officials needed some help with their many activities, they asked local folks to chip in.

And that’s just what they do once a month on Chip-In Day

Jessica Schmitt, executive director of Wood County NAMI, said there are many students from Bowling Green State University, as well as parents, and volunteers from the community who want to help further the agency’s goal of serving those with mental illness. The challenge was organizing the volunteers.

That resulted in Chip-In Day when people work on a variety of projects at the NAMI Wood County office, 541 W. Wooster St., in Bowling Green. The tasks vary depending on what needs to be done, from typing and stuffing envelopes to working on the newspaper and filing. There are other volunteering choices, including music programs, holiday activities, and work at the Wood County Fair in the summer.

Chip-In Days are from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month.

“We made it a one-day event so that anybody that wants to volunteer there are opportunities available,” Schmitt said. “We get to know our volunteers a little bit more. The staff puts our other stuff on pause and work alongside the chippers, as we call them.”

Anywhere from five to 20 chippers show up for duty each month.

There’s an added benefit of Chip-In Day, Schmitt said. “People have the opportunity to talk about mental illness in a safe atmosphere in which people aren’t going to judge you.”

NAMI Wood County can be reached at (419) 352-0626.

Suicide Rates Among Ohio’s Youth and Elderly Jumped Over Last Decade, Report Shows


Suicide Rates Among Ohio’s Youth and Elderly Jumped Over Last Decade, Report Shows

 By Jim Woods

The Columbus Dispatch –

Posted Nov 13, 2019 at 7:37 PM

Suicide rates in Ohio have increased dramatically among youths and those more than 65 years of age from 2007 through 2018, according to an Ohio Department of Health report released Wednesday.

Suicide is now the leading cause of death for youths between 10 and 14 in the state of Ohio. Statewide, 5 people die by suicide every day and one youth dies every 33 hours, the report states.

Ohio’s suicide rate is increasing, especially among youths between the ages of 10 and 24, with a 56% increase in deaths from 2007 through 2018, according to a state Department of Health report released Wednesday.

A young person dies by suicide every 33 hours in Ohio, and five people of all ages die every day, the report states.

“Suicide in Ohio and nationally is a growing public health epidemic, particularly among young people,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death among Ohioans ages 10-14 and the second-leading cause of death among Ohioans ages 15-24,” Acton said.

There were 271 people between the ages of 10 and 24 who killed themselves in 2018. That is only two more deaths in that age group from the previous year.

But the trend becomes more alarming when viewed over more than a decade, as there were 174 such suicides in 2007.

Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director for the Ohio Department of Health, said the trend is alarming.

“It’s important to identify youngsters that are having trouble so that there can be intervention,” he said.

Hurst said it’s important to be aware if a youngster is suddenly becoming secretive, staying in his or her room and cutting off communication with others.

“We shouldn’t assume that a young person is just going through a phase if they are showing symptoms,” Hurst said.

Tony Coder, executive director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, said the state’s report underscores that more resources need to be devoted to help young people.

“It’s a public health problem that needs to be addressed ASAP,” Coder said.

It’s apparent there needs to be outreach all the way down to the elementary school level, he said.

Overall in Ohio, the number of suicides increased to 1,836 in 2018 from 1,744 in 2017, an increase of 5.2%. Since 2007, however, the number of suicides has increased by 44.8%, from the 1,268 suicides recorded that year.

In addition to the increases in the younger demographic, suicides have increased substantially for adults 65 or older since 2007.

There were 333 suicides in that age group last year compared with 176 in 2007, a 90% increase.

Hurst said that it’s important to know that suicidal thoughts tend to be brief in nature. He said it’s important to reach out to those who are experiencing feelings of hopelessness.

“Suicide is a very complicated public health issue. When we look at the statistics, you can’t lose sight that it is someone’s son or daughter,” Hurst said.

For help, reach Ohio’s 24/7 Crisis Text Line by texting 4HOPE to 741741, or call the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-221-5445; the Teen Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-294-3300; or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255/TALK (1-888-628-9454 for Spanish speakers).