NAMI-BI plans funding, programs for 2017

Fri, 12/23/2016 - 7:30am

The successful move of the telemedicine program to the Block Island Medical Center was the highlight of the year in review at the Friday, Dec. 9 meeting of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Block Island affiliate (NAMI-BI). Board members committed to renewing their request to the Town Council for support of the program's case worker and also considered options for new programs in 2017.

The new site at the Medical Center is working out, said case worker Tracy Fredericks. The computer used for live teleconferencing with Butler Hospital psychiatric residents is now in a more comfortable, stable location with more privacy and a better internet connection than the previous location at the Harbor Church. Currently, nine clients are receiving services; seasonal residents swell the client numbers in the summer, Fredericks said.

The NAMI-BI affiliate persuaded the Town Council to help fund the case worker with a $6,000 community support grant in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. Even with the appropriation and ongoing fundraising, board member Elspeth Crawford said, “Our budgetary concern is that we only have in reserve enough funding for one year” of our main expenditure, paying Fredericks, “which Butler Hospital requires us to have as a basic component of the service.”

The group intends to ask the Council for an increase in the grant for the fiscal year starting July 2017, “with a view to future years' funding.”

Board members agreed to schedule the “Mental Health First Aid” training for adults during the off-season. This course “trains people to recognize the signs of mental illness, offer immediate assistance, and encourage them to seek professional help,” according to NAMI-BI's annual appeal letter. NAMI-BI obtained funding for this training from the Rhode Island Foundation through South County Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds.

The local group is also working with the NAMI state office's staff and Block Island School leadership to hold a program for middle and high school students called “Inside Mental Illness” and a program for parents and teachers called “Parents and Teachers as Allies.” Both are supported by NAMI's national educational and outreach staff.

In addition, NAMI-BI is planning a panel discussion addressing opioid abuse for the general public.

The next NAMI-BI meeting will be Monday Jan. 9, 2017 at 9 a.m. at the Harbor Church.

Telemedicine appointments are scheduled at the Medical Center between 8:30 a.m. and noon each Wednesday. Contact Tracy Fredericks at (207) 229-6349 for more information.