The NAMI December 2016 Newsletter!
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December 2016 Newsletter

Happy December 2016! This has been an amazing year for our affiliate thanks to the great work of our volunteers, Board of Directors and members just like you. We have some great plans to grow our affiliate by engaging in collaborative activities throughout the community, conducting training, and reaching out to under-served populations throughout Northern Nevada.

                                                      The Board of Directors

Elections are in January !
NAMI Northern Nevada  wants YOU on the Board of Directors!

The Board of Directors needs you! NAMI Northern Nevada is led by a group of volunteers who donate their time and energy to run our affiliate. They are people just like you, and include parents, consumers, professionals, advocates. But they all recognize the critical need for mental health education and advocacy in our community. NAMI Northern Nevada will be electing our new board on January 28th, 2017. ANYONE is eligible to be a member of our board. All you need to do is submit (1) Your name and (2) A brief 3-5 sentence summary of why you would like to be a board member and your qualifications. Send that summary to and we will get you on the ballot. You can even call and leave it as a voice mail at 775-285-6264 and we will transcribe it for you. The deadline for sending in your name to be on the board is December 9th, 2016.

Factoids, Appreciation, from AMI to NAMI Northern Nevada 
by Joe Tyler

In 1979, Mrs. Custer, sister of northern Nevada philanthropist, Robert Z. Hawkins, met for the first ever Alliance for the Mentally Ill (AMI) National Board of Directors meeting in St Louis. Locally, Family Member, Verna Weber began informal meetings at her home for families without knowing, AMI, deemed “friends of the mentally ill” existed. Her son Peter, served as a consumer on the Statewide BOD. Verna’s annual support for client’s Christmas stocking bags and food for our celebration at our drop in center was unyielding. 
In 1992 Rosetta Johnson,  received funding from both the Nevada State Legislature and Hawkins Foundation for what is now called the Family-to-Family program. She spearheaded raising $75,000, and organizing two AMI of Nevada conventions in Las Vegas and at the Peppermill here in Reno. She also advocated and won passage of legislation for the Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) in Nevada. Senator Townsend did a ride along with a beat cop and later was able to persuade downtown businesses to support getting homeless off the streets with a hand-up not a hand out. 

AMI of Northern Nevada members Rod Farrell and Joe Tyler founded what is probably, the longest running Mutual Help Support group in 1991, then for families and consumers altogether at Washoe Medical Center. This group continues every Monday at 6:30-8:00PM on the ground floor of the Simulation Rooms for families and consumers. 

In 1994, Bunchie and Joe Tyler began producing cable access TV shows, called “Erasing the Stigma” which ran until closure of the SNCAT studios for over 20 years, with over 1,500 hours This program is now on you tube, at the JoeTylerWorld channel with Bret Tyler as Producer. The shows have included the Northern Nevada President William Couey Terry Bradshaw, Montel Williams, elected officials, and even governors, Kenny Guinn and Jim Gibbons. Bunchie and Joe held the northern Nevada organization together for nearly twelve years while Joe acted as Statewide President. Financial support came first from Pharmaceutical Companies and later from Private Foundations.  

Donna Shibovich is the longest ever National Consumer Representative for NAMI since 1998. She also has volunteered conducting Warm Line calls with her close friend, Helen Gray. Donna has also prepared testimony for the legislature in Carson City and Washington DC. Her story about how state services allowed her to recover was documented in the “NAMI Nevada Recovery Journal” monthly newsletter. She is also a Peer-to-Peer class mentor, and is one of the greatest recovery stories in all of Northern Nevada.

Mark Burchell was elected Vice President of the State Board in 2006 and volunteered for two years until he was hired as liaison for our Northern Nevada Mental Health Court. At the same time, Officer Patrick O’Bryan requested a mobile unit conduct outreach for homeless in Reno. NAMI donated $20,000 dollar two consecutive years for Van maintenance. This unit is still being used by the Reno Police Department. 

Senator William Raggio and Senator Randolph Townsend were also key to passage of funding to build two state of the art psychiatric Hospital Facilities, the Neil-Rawson and the Dini-Townsend. The latter built in 2002.

Other amazing people in NAMI's history include Past President, Norma Brownell who prepared her famous spaghetti dinners for AMI Northern Nevada during the lean years. Sue Brune was our first Newsletter Editor and husband, Jim Brune are the largest single-family donors and are the eldest active members spanning 27 years. Joe Allen returned after family teaching and is now our Treasurer.  
Gerald O’Brien took over facilitating, the Connection Group and was elected Northern Nevada President.

Kathy Ruso’s support led to founding, now in its third year, of weekly Support Groups at Reno Homeless shelter. Gale DuJardin now is one of the chief communications volunteers through NAMI and has kept the ball rolling helping families to cope with their loved ones mental illnesses, for over 8 years.
Marilyn Scholl, a VA social worker also volunteered her time to assist with this group.
Barbara Van Dyke attended advocacy/dinner meetings where NNAMHS Commitment Court, Judge Chuck Weller heard the real truth about how her son did not receive services he needed to recover. Her son now resides in a care home and is active about his recovery.

By Joe Tyler Past NAMI President
JANUARY MONTHLY SPEAKER MEETING January 26th, 2017 at 6PM- Human Trafficking and Mental Illness: Our January monthly speaker meeting will feature Victoria Sweet JD, and Kelly Ranasinghe from NAMI. Victoria Sweet is a nationally recognized figure in child and human trafficking and has taught dozens of multi-disciplinary trainings on historical trauma and complex trauma. She is published in a wide variety of trafficking research and created a singular Human Trafficking Strategic Plan.
President Jerry O'Brien, Volunteer Debra Rilea and Peer-to-Peer Facilitator Lexie Rilea at the NAMI Appreciation Luncheon at the Nevada Governor's Mansion.
President Jerry O'Brien, Treasurer Joseph Allen, and Mrs. Allen. To see more photos from the Appreciation Luncheon check out

                              Brain Training by Jerry O'Brien.

I was recently reading an article in the magazine, Scientific American Mind, called “The For-Real Science of Brain Training”, discussing the failures of brain training websites and apps like Lumosity and also about the successes of other programs in people experiencing cognition problems as in schizophrenia and ADHD.  I expect that there are many people out there in my audience who might be surprised with what the article has to say.

Television commercials for Lumosity claim that their brain games will keep people “sharp” and mentally agile.  Apparently, this may not be the case.  It happens that the company behind Lumosity was fined $2 million after 70 neuroscientists pointed out that many of the claims of improvement described by Lumosity were unsubstantiated.  Says the article, “Despite widespread claims, there is little evidence that brain training games provide easy boosts to cognitive function . . . Making brain training look effective is easy because performance on games inevitably gets better with practice”.  The article goes on to say that “people who did memory training saw no benefit”.  While this news may be disappointing to many people, there might actually be hope in other kinds of brain training and especially in people with schizophrenia and ADHD.

In the case of people with schizophrenia, brain training treatments come in the form of “sound sweeps” and social training.  Among other problems experienced by people with schizophrenia include “basic deficits in sensory processing”.  Sound sweep treatments “present a series of tones, rising and falling, like the sound of a siren approaching or receding.  Laughably easy to distinguish at slow speeds, they quickly become seemingly impossible to distinguish when played at, say 12 milliseconds.”  “Nonsense syllables are likewise presented at progressively faster speeds, with ever-increasing levels of distracting background noise”.  The authors of the article report successes social training in people with schizophrenia.  People with schizophrenia are shown pictures of people with various facial expressions for brief periods, 15 milliseconds, and are asked to identify the expressions.  “After 20 hours of game play from home or a clinic, people with schizophrenia significantly improved their performance on . . . standardized psychological measures of social cognition, social functioning and motivation”.

Other forms of brain training are available for people with attention deficits, especially those with ADHD.  Brain training games focus on increasing working memory by asking subjects to remember many bits of information and to manage many tasks at one time.  In the exercise, children were asked to read a series of numbers and to repeat them back to clinicians in reverse order, a difficult task for anyone, I would think.  Through steady increase in the difficulty of the exercises given, children with only 10.5 hours of game play were shown to demonstrate better working memory in other tasks which were not covered in the training.

Besides these two examples of brain training, there are also brain training regimens that have been shown to be helpful with other problems, such as improving the reaction time in elderly drivers and in people with cognitive problems like “chemo-brain” seen in people who have undergone chemotherapy for cancer.

It would seem that there is hope for many people with brain disorders and a few other problems.  For me, it begs the question, when will these treatments become available to clinicians where I live?  Who can say?  Mental health systems across the country are uneven in quality and there may also be delays in bringing any new treatment into widespread use.  Perhaps it is up to us, people with mental illnesses and others to encourage doctors and administrators to try something new, something that will make a difference.

                                                                                                                Jerry O’Brien

WE HAVE A NEW WEBSITE!: The board of directors approved funding to purchase a website for NAMI Northern Nevada which is administered by an IT company through national. It's still in construction, but if you would like to check out our work in progress you can visit If you want to take a stab at writing some content for our new website please contact
Copyright © 2016 NAMI NORTHERN NEVADA All rights reserved.

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PO Box 50564, Sparks, NV 89435

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NAMI Northern Nevada · NAMI Northern Nevada · P.O. Box 50564 · Sparks, NV 89435 · USA

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