In a few weeks I’ll be driving to Memphis for a weekend training for the IOOV or In Our Own Voice program, sponsored by NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

NAMI makes IOOV meetings available to anyone in small as well as large communities throughout the country.

People who have battled mental illness of any type and who are in recovery are trained to present at the IOOV community meetings that can be held in police stations, fire houses, churches and community centers.

It is a program in which people hear true stories from those who suffer and recover from their mental illness. Which doesn’t mean they won’t have future episodes with their illness but does mean they are currently in recovery. It is a very powerful program.

If you haven’t been touched by mental illness or your family hasn’t been affected by it, you don’t have a touchstone for understanding the illnesses that affect those of us who suffer in silence.

It is precisely because of the stigma against mental illness and the silence of those with diagnosable mental conditions that gives these meetings importance and power.  The program is a chance for anyone in the community to hear a real-life story from someone who is brave enough to speak for many, many people in order to educate the majority of those who have no idea how mental illnesses affect people.

I’ll give you an update after my training.

Click here to learn more about the In Our Own Voice program.