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After eight years of decimation, it is time to rebuild Maine’s mental health system

Posted By Jenna Mehnert, Executive Director, Thursday, January 3, 2019

In this time of political change, NAMI Maine remains steadfast in our commitment to all people living with a mental health condition. The past eight years decimated Maine’s mental health and substance abuse systems, but it isn’t good enough to just rebuild what was. NAMI Maine is issuing a call for a comprehensive, focused effort to build a dynamic mental health system rich with early intervention and evidence-based practices. As a group of peers, family and community members, we call for a continuum of services that meets each person (adult and child) where they are in their journey toward wellness; a true system of care that focuses on adequately-funded, effective community-based services that have measurable impacts on the lives of individuals.

We call upon the Department of Health and Human Services to bring what is working in other states to Maine and to employ the operational expertise necessary to hold every provider in Maine accountable to high standards.

As this important work moves forward, we renew our call that no person is forgotten. Forensic patients were demonized in the recent past and early intervention programs ignored. We cannot toss away those individuals who are hardest to treat. No Mainer placed in the custody of the commissioner of DHHS should ever be sent to a correctional facility.

As controversy surrounds the step-down facility being constructed in Bangor, NAMI Maine believes it can perform a needed role within the mental health continuum for forensic patients if, and only if, 1) high-quality programming moves people toward community re-entry in meaningful ways; 2) it is staffed by those with expertise and experience so as not to further stigmatize patients receiving care; 3) there is an empowered body to oversee staff of the facility and hold them accountable; and 4) it serves as a location for forensic patients currently placed out of state. We believe that even those whose struggle is great can live the life they envision for themselves — but only if we provide supports that are built around the individual and not the providers.

Just as with physical health conditions, early detection of a mental health challenge greatly enhances the success of treatment approaches. With three-quarters of mental health conditions presenting by age 24, a lack of early intervention services demonstrate a critical gap in the system.

Evidence of how we are failing our youth is clear when examining the number of children placed out of state and confined at Long Creek Youth Development Center because we lack access to an appropriate continuum of mental health and support services here in Maine. NAMI Maine calls for a system that goes far beyond case management and in-home supports.

NAMI Maine looks forward to conversations that create a full continuum of care within the mental health system with the caveat that early intervention and self-determination must be the guiding beacons within any system built. Let us all hold a shared commitment to build effective and humane systems that truly demonstrate a belief in the value of all people.

Jenna Mehnert is the executive director of NAMI Maine.

Article originally published by the Bangor Daily News on January 2, 2019.

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Suicide Prevention Program September Update

Posted By Greg Marley, NAMI Maine, Monday, September 11, 2017

The Suicide Prevention Division at NAMI Maine is finalizing our fall range of trainings in suicide prevention and management.  September is Suicide Prevention Month and prevention relies on everyone being better prepared to help someone at risk.  Trainings being offered this fall include:

  • Gatekeeper Training:  The Gatekeeper training is the foundation of the Maine Suicide Prevention Program (MSPP) and is a pre-requisite to the MSPP school-based curriculum training and the Training of Trainers.  It provides a deep overview of suicide in Maine and the US, and teaches basic intervention and resources for response. Completion of this training fulfills the requirements of LD 609 as an option for school staff. 
  • Advanced Gatekeeper Training (schools):  This is a full-day training for adults working in schools. Completion of this training fulfills the requirements of LD 609 as an option for school staff. School staff working in roles where they have used their Gatekeeper skills will find the additional areas of learning will deepen their understanding of suicide risk assessment, self injury and increase their resources for responding to that risk.
  • Suicide Assessment for Clinicians: This workshop builds knowledge about suicide trends in high risk populations across the lifespan and takes participants through the steps of a suicide risk assessment interview and a systemic response to risk.  This training is designed for those working in mental health and primary care clinical roles who need more in-depth resources and information in order to assess and manage suicide risk. 
  • Train the Trainer Training:  A half-day program available to train Gatekeepers to facilitate a 1-2 hour suicide prevention awareness session for co-workers, school staff, and/or other community members.  Materials are provided for preparing, planning, and conducting the sessions (completed Gatekeeper is required). 
  • Suicide Prevention Curriculum Training for Teachers: 
  • Lifelines Teachers Training:  A full-day program for health educators and others who will implement Lifelines Student Suicide Prevention lessons in their high school health curriculum. These lessons are aligned with Maine Learning Results Health Education Standards.
  • Transition Lessons Teacher Training:  The Transition Program is designed to help schools reinforce concepts presented in the Lifelines student lessons and to better prepare high school seniors for life after high school.
  • Middle School Lessons Teacher Training:  A full-day program for health educators and others who will implement Middle School Suicide Prevention Lessons in the school health curriculum. These lessons are aligned with Maine Learning Results Health Education Standards.

To register for any trainings listed above or to find valuable resources visit the following website:

We also want to take a moment to welcome Nicole Foster to NAMI-Maine.  She has taken the role of the Suicide Prevention Coordinator.  Please contact her with any questions regarding the above trainings or other matters related to the Suicide Prevention Division at

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New NAMI Tips - Early Psychosis

Posted By Christine Canty Brooks, NAMI Maine, Friday, January 13, 2017

Youth and young adults first experiencing psychosis may feel worried and fearful about what is happening. Click on the image below to read the new NAMI National tip sheet, Encouraging People to Seek Help for Early Psychosis.

Use it to start a conversation with someone you care about today!

Questions? Email Christine


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