I thank Mike Sica for writing about Heather Barr's leadership and advocacy in New York for the betterment of the mentally ill. To learn of a young adult born and raised in Alaska working for the right's of the mentally ill is a dream come true. Ms. Barr's parents must be very proud. I remember living in Juneau in a time when mental illness services were nonexistent, and a state psychiatrist who may or may not be able to see you and when the stigma for the mentally ill was humiliation.
Courageous advocates emerged such as Sharron Lobaugh who organized the Juneau Alliance for the Mentally Ill, an affiliate of the National Alliance. As the need for services escalated in Juneau, housing, counseling and out-patient programs developed and Brenda Knapp was hired as executive director which is now under JAMHI. In addition, the advocacy, education group is now the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill-Juneau. We have one of the most comprehensive services in Alaska, two groups and community working together to improve the mental health of all of us, thanks to Juneau's advocates, which also include the many businesses who have donated so much.
Next Wednesday, March 21, at McPhetre's Hall, 8:30 a.m., the annual "bridge" fly-in will hold meetings with the mentally ill consumers, mental health professionals and members', family and friends to discuss and plan the needs of future services. How great it would be to have Heather Barr as our key note speaker.