Shelby County Commission (AL) Hears from National Alliance on Mental Health Representative

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By Erica Techo

During its first meeting of December, the Shelby County Commission discussed ongoing and future mental health initiatives in the county.

Joan Elder, president of the National Alliance on Mental Health’s Alabama Chapter, addressed the Commission regarding an upcoming summit and the new “Stepping Up” initiative from NAMI, a national mental health organization that aims to provide resources to families and individuals affected by mental illness.

Last year’s mental health summit attracted more than 400 attendees, said Elder, who is also on the board of NAMI Shelby County, and this year’s summit has a local focus. The summit will be held Jan. 11 in Montgomery.

“We’re focusing on local governments, asking them to attend, because what we’re trying to do is expand,” Elder said, adding that this year’s focus would be “A day in the life of community mental health.”

Last year’s focus was crisis intervention training, in which Shelby County was actively involved, Elder said.

In regard to the “Stepping Up” initiative, Elder said it is a national effort to have local government sign a resolution “promoting awareness of mental health in our communities,” Elder said, in addition to efforts to prevent individuals with mental illness from being imprisoned.

County Manager Alex Dudchock highlighted efforts from the Chilton-Shelby Mental Health Board and Probate Court, which have gone toward working to provide resources related to mental health.

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