Thu, 12/20/2018 - 8:45pm

A year of change

To the Editor:

The Block Island chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness is a non-profit organization working to reduce the effects and stigma of mental illness. We aim to facilitate access to mental health care, support families affected by mental illness and enable community understanding. Mental illness is prevalent, may be complex and overlap with other needs; so we also promote well-being and health. This past year has brought developments in NAMI BI’s activity, with very positive outcomes. 

First, NAMI BI continues to manage the psychiatric telemedicine program for adults located at Block Island Health Services, and to communicate information about the three therapists who have office hours on the island. Our advocacy has brought sought-after developments in services for children and families. A clinical psychologist offering child and family therapy and consultation now visits the island.

NAMI BI fosters the adult services currently facilitated by Tracy Fredericks, the Case Manager. She is contracted to NAMI BI who pays for her hours through your contributions and a grant from the Town of New Shoreham.

If we expand services in 2019, we expect these costs to increase.

Second, Block Island Wellness, a sister organization supported by state substance abuse prevention funding, has been subjected to strategic changes from R.I. State Prevention Planning and is now part of the regional South County Prevention Coalition.

Recognizing the commonality and overlap with part of mental health aims, NAMI BI has invited the Wellness team to combine with NAMI BI to help preserve their specific local knowledge and activity, as well as enabling us to engage with South County Prevention when appropriate.

This has been a fruitful follow-up to our Spring 2017 Mental Health Conference that focused on opioids. Further feedback emphasized stresses, isolation and anxieties on the island, and led to the 2018 Spring Conference topic: “Depression, a Community Conversation, What can we do?”

The May 2018 conference was well-received by about 30 people attending. In June another twenty residents attended an event on suicide prevention. During July and August we held a series of TED talk programs and discussion group meetings on various aspects of mental health and illness.

All these events were well attended by both residents and visitors.

The Family Support Group has also continued to meet regularly each month, and has been a real benefit to all participants. Plans are well under way for the Spring Conference 2019, which will be held on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18. The theme next year will be “Children and Teens: Won’t they just grow out of it?” Keep the date. 

The third change this year has been internal, as we said goodbye to Steve Hollaway, the founding president of NAMI BI. His place was taken by Jim Hinthorn.

We are thankful for the work Steve did, and are confident that with Jim as leader NAMI BI will continue to fulfill its mission.

As you can see, 2018 has been quite a year for NAMI BI and its work in the Block Island community. We look forward to 2019 as the long hoped for and now developing resources for children and families become a reality. This and our ongoing work need your support and are so worthwhile. We thank you for your past contributions, and in advance for your continued financial support.

Yours sincerely,          

Members, NAMI BI Board,

President: Jim Hinthorn, Vice-President: Kristin Baumann, Treasurer: Pat Tengwall, Secretary: Elspeth Crawford, Members: Beth Gaffett Tengwall, Gloria Redlich, Socha Cohen, Jill Seppa, Kyra Ernst, Sue Hagedorn, Tracy Fredericks, Case Manager


Fundraiser went swimmingly

Dear Block Island Friends,

I would like to thank everyone who helped me with my fundraiser to help rehabilitate sea animals at New England Aquarium. I would like to thank everyone who baked something for me to sell and everyone who came to the bake sale to buy things.

I want to thank everyone who sent me donations, including my sister and her sorority sisters at Kappa Delta at Boston University. I would especially like to thank my mom who made this happen.

The total amount of money we raised was $800! I will deliver the check in person to the New England Aquarium as soon as I can. Thank you!

 Abigail Willi

Ambrose Lane