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JULY 23, 2018: NAMI Missoula has been asked to assist with an upcoming documentary film about suicide in Montana. The film is tentatively titled “Deaths of Despair” and it is being produced by the British Broadcasting Company; the BBC crew will be coming to Missoula in early August.

The documentary will focus on people who have experienced a suicidal crisis/suicidal ideation or who have made an attempt at suicide; it will also include people who have lost a loved one to suicide. The producers want to highlight the experiences of people seeking and getting help, the challenges within the mental health system, and the suicide awareness and prevention efforts taking place here in Western Montana. Peter Snyder, Regional Director of Psychiatric Services at Providence St. Patrick Hospital, is working with, and providing guidance to, the film’s producers

NAMI has been asked to gather a group of “suicide attempt survivors” willing to discuss their experiences around this issue. The discussion would take place in a standard “support group” format and would be filmed by the BBC crew. Jack Shifflett, President of NAMI Missoula (and a suicide attempt survivor himself) will facilitate the discussion. We do not have a date set at this time; that will be arranged with the BBC crew once they arrive.

If you know someone who would be willing to participate, please ask them to contact us by email or by phone (880-1013). The requirements are that individuals (a) must be over the age of 18 and (b) have made or seriously considered an attempt at suicide.


JULY 23, 2018: On Monday, August 27, St. Patrick Hospital will be offering Mental Health First Aid training. This groundbreaking 8-hour training gives people the tools to recognize when someone might be struggling with a mental health concern or a substance use problem, and to connect them with appropriate support and resources when necessary. For further information or to register for the class, contact Kati McLeod at You can also learn more about the course at 

February 2018: The following is from NAMI National, in regards to recent statements about mental illness made by public officials:


In recent days, there has been a lot of rhetoric by the President and the NRA about “crazy people” and a desire to return to the days of the “institutions.” These comments reinforce inaccurate and negative stereotypes and create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness fights for a more understanding and accepting world for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness, and for a mental health system that provides the care and support they need to do well in school, work and life. All Americans should have coverage for mental health care and access to treatment when needed. 

Psychiatric institutions were closed historically for many reasons, including unsafe treatment of patients and deplorable conditions. Today, we see many youth and young adults languishing in emergency rooms and law enforcement officers are forced to respond to crises because mental health services are frequently not available. There is a need for high-quality inpatient care, including as a last resort, court ordered treatment.

Solutions to this crisis also require more than inpatient care. There are many common sense approaches that we know are effective and that can be implemented now to improve access to mental health services along a continuum of care for youth who are at risk. These include:

  • Implementing intensive community-based mental health interventions for youth and young adults with the most serious mental illnesses.
  • Integrating mental health in primary care and in schools so that mental health treatment is readily available.
  • Increasing access to high-quality inpatient treatment through repealing the exclusion in Medicaid for paying for these beds and increasing reimbursement along with required outcomes.
  • Ensuring a well-funded and strong mental health system through fully funding the Medicaid program and requiring private health insurance to provide adequate coverage for mental health and substance use treatment.

NAMI would welcome the opportunity to meet with President Trump and work with his administration on steps for improving mental health services in America. We were proud to participate in the Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee for Serious Mental Illness. This report provides the Administration with a blueprint for fixing our nation’s broken mental health system, including improving services for children and youth who are at risk.


Leadership: In April, we elected three new board members as well as new officers. Our elected board now consists of: Dodie Adare; Zan Bockes; Sylvia Carollo; Monique Casbeer; Julie Joyce; Pat Kouris; Mary McCourt; Madeleine McKelvey; Sheila Mellgren; Debra Orozco; Jack Shifflett; Geri Stewart; Karen Ward; Darin Webster; and Bev Young. We reluctantly accepted Dorothy Salmonson’s resignation as President of NAMI Missoula. Our officers for 2017-2019 are: Jack Shifflett, President; Darin Webster, Vice-President; and Pat Kouris, Secretary. Karen Ward continues as Treasurer through December 31; Karissma Rufe will take over the position on January 1, 2018.

Fundraising: We focused our fundraising efforts on three events: the “Missoula Gives” online event in May, the “NAMI Walk” in September (including our second annual “Beautiful Minds” benefit), and our “Holiday High Tea” in December. We also received generous contributions from the Knights of Columbus and from The Loose Caboose, among others.

Benevolent Fund: Our Benevolent Fund “medication co-pay program” continues to operate in partnership with Savmor Drugs. We also are hopeful to expand this service to the new WMMHC pharmacy.  The Benevolent Fund Committee agreed to transfer $6000 from its account into our general fund, earmarked for “client emergencies”.

Community Outreach: We participated in the Nonprofit Day at Southgate Mall, in the St. Patrick Hospital’s “Mental Health Fair,” and in “Shine a Light on Mental Health” week at the university. We held two “NAMI Forums” in the spring at the Missoula Public Library; in May, Zan Bockes and Jack Shifflett did a poetry reading at “Fact & Fiction”.  In September, we participated in the “Out of the Darkness” suicide prevention event at McCormick Park.

Presentations: We added three new presenters to our “In Our Own Voice” roster in May. We have done presentations to the local colleges, to civic groups, and to all four local high schools; for the first time, we have spoken to middle-school students (at C.S. Porter). We also presented to the Montana Educators Association Conference in October.

Criminal Justice Issues: We continue to partner with the Missoula City Police’s “Crisis Intervention Training” program; we also work with the Public Defender’s office, the Jail Diversion Program at the Missoula Detention Center, and the Missoula Treatment Court.

Other Community Partners: We have met and worked with staff at Winds of Change, at Western Montana Mental Health Center, and with WORD. We meet monthly with Pete Snyder and staff at the Providence Center; we work closely with Project Tomorrow and with Heidi Kendall, the Missoula City-County Health Department’s suicide prevention coordinator. We have a strong relationship with the UM Curry Counseling Center, with the Resident Life office, and with the student groups “UM Mental Health Allies” and “Student Involvement Network”.

Provider Outreach: Deb Orozco developed a mailing list of local providers; we designed and printed a targeted brochure and mailed it to over 100 local providers. We are now linked to the UM “provider search” site and can use that to update and expand our provider listings.

Support Groups: We now offer five weekly support groups—our NAMI Crafts group on Wednesdays; our “weekly meeting,” NAMI Connection, and “Family Support & Education” groups on Thursdays; and our Providence Center inpatient group on Sunday afternoons.

Education Programs: We offered “Peer to Peer” in the spring and again in the fall, and “Family to Family” in the fall. We held two seminars in November for NAMI’s new pilot program, “NAMI Family & Friends”.

Montana State Hospital: We visit the hospital monthly to do a support and discussion group in the hospital’s Recovery Center.

Special Events: Events this year included our annual summer “Party in the Park,” our “Beautiful Minds” benefit at Imagine Nation, and the “Holiday High Tea” at the Florence. In addition, in September we held a party to honor Dorothy Salmonson for thirty-plus years of service to NAMI and to this community.

We wish all of you a joyous and peaceful holiday season!


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