As the debate over mental health continues across the country, many rural areas still lack resources for proper treatment. Jo Ann Brown, Program Director and Coordinator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Mid-Hudson, is working to change that. In her role at NAMI Mid-Hudson, Brown helps address awareness issues and provides resources and education for families affected by mental illness. Brown and her team of volunteers have provided invaluable leadership and energy to ensure rural residents’ mental health needs are met with unique programs and services.
Brown helps lead the “Ending the Silence” program in the local schools and teaches “Family-to-Family,” a 12-week, evidence-based course that provides communication and problem solving skills, mutual support, and compassionate reinforcement for taking care of loved ones with mental health issues. Brown taught the course along with her husband for three years in rural Eastern Dutchess. She is presently teaching her 20th Family-to-Family class. The program holds a special place in her heart, as she has two sons with mental health issues.
Her nominator says despite life’s ups and downs, Brown displays selfless courage and always carries a message of hope to her community. She uses her leadership to help others move past the stigma of mental illness and works to ensure each person served by NAMI is treated with dignity and respect. Brown says she saw the need for these services in her rural community because of her own family and other families who lacked resources and support. NAMI Mid-Hudson provides services and education in her own community, making it easier for those affected to feel supported. Brown says it’s important for people and families who deal with mental health issues to know they are not alone, and that’s why she is a champion of this program. She believes mental health is a priority, and without mental health we have no health. Her empathy and selflessness are what make Jo Ann Brown a Community Star.