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Pine Belt Spring 2018 Update

City of Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker receives a NAMI Mississippi Certificate of Sponsorship from Dr. Joe Kinnan during a city council meeting on Feb. 20, 2018. The city is a strong supporter of NAMI and positive mental health programs. (Courtesy NAMI Pine Belt)

Greetings to all NAMI members and friends! Our affiliate continues to meet each month, learning much from some outstanding guest speakers. In January, Lewis Anthony Bullock, a member of the Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources Community Mental Health Center, spoke about the progress of Crisis Intervention Team training in the counties. He gave us valuable insight into the curriculum. In February, Judge Wes Curry, the City of Hattiesburg Municipal Court Judge responsible for the Behavioral Health Court, told us of the steady growth of the court’s census as an excellent jail diversion program. Please join us on the last Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Forrest General Cafeteria Elm Room to share ideas and learn more about the issues in mental health.

We are excited and grateful to report that the City of Hattiesburg has become a NAMI Mississippi sponsor. A nicely-framed certificate of recognition was presented to Mayor Toby Barker on February 20, 2018 at the City Council Meeting.

We are very pleased with the opportunities we have had to assist with the formation of the Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) and the de-escalation training of numerous law enforcement officers throughout the Pine Belt, including personnel from Jones and Forrest Counties. Our affiliate is collaborating with other agencies to host a CIT Appreciation Banquet on April 7, 2018. The CIT Officer of the Year for Jones County will be honored at the banquet. The guest speaker will be Dr. Thomas Kirchberg, the Chief of Psychology for the VA Medical Center in Memphis. Dr. Randy Dupont and Major Sam Cochran, key founders of the National CIT Program, will also attend the celebration.

The local Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority chapter will help us sponsor a Mental Health First Aid Course on July 21, 2018 in Hattiesburg. The event is a key feature to recognize Minority Mental Health Month. 30 people are slated to attend. They will learn ways to strengthen mental health awareness in our community and how to respond appropriately to mental health emergencies.

Our membership continues to grow in quantity and quality! We are fostering the establishment of the NAMI On Campus programs at the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. We are one of the primary contacts in the area to assist individuals and families who struggle with mental health crises. It is so important to refer struggling families to the most appropriate mental health services.

Our affiliate has been very impressed with the way the NAMI Mississippi State Office has kept us informed on legislative matters. Gloria Mwase, Tameka Tobias and Lauren Parker are superb advocates for improving mental health services. We’re privileged to be a part of the advocacy team in our state and nation. Indeed, we are companions on this exciting and meaningful journey!

– Respectfully submitted by Joe Kinnan, Ph.D.

Judge Wes Curry, City of Hattiesburg Behavioral Health Court Municipal Judge, spoke at the NAMI Pine Belt Affiliate Meeting on February 27th. He is shown with (left to right) Sandy Kinnan, Debbie Dale (Affiliate President), and Dr. Joe Kinnan. (Courtesy NAMI Pine Belt)

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