holiday-blues-01The Austin American-Statesman published a new opinion piece by NAMI Austin’s Executive Director, Karen Ranus. The piece offers advice on how to avoid the Holiday Blues and have a healthy holiday season.

It’s the season to be jolly, but the holidays are also the best time of the year to remember the gift of good self-care and encourage friends, family and co-workers to do the same.

See the full article here and our Holiday Blues page here.

NAMI Austin held its Annual Meeting  at Dell Medical Center on November 30 which featured Texas Senator Kirk Watson sharing his vision for improving mental health health care with a focus on utilizing community resources such as Dell Medical School to launch the “M.D. Anderson” for brain health.

Watch KXAN’s coverage of the event below and click here to read the text of Sen. Watson’s remarks.

See the full story here.

#OK2Talk: Starting the Mental Health Conversation with Teens

 Monday, October 24 |  6:30-8:00 p.m.
Anderson High School Library
8403 Mesa Drive
(access parking & library from Cima Serena Dr. entrance)

Click here for a flyer to download, print and share!

Click here for a youth mental health fact sheet.

We fill our teens’ backpacks with school supplies, give them advice about academics and encourage them to eat right and get sleep. Yet, we rarely provide them with the tools and language needed to talk about mental health in the same way they do their physical health.

Creating home and school environments in which it’s okay to talk about mental health equips teens with the skills required to handle the challenges of school, relationships and family that many face each day. With mental illness underlying 90% of cases of suicide, talking about mental health also has the capacity to save young lives.
Join us for a modified demonstration of NAMI’s “Ending the Silence” mental health and suicide awareness presentation followed by a panel discussion featuring  professionals as well as a parent and student.

Panelists: Julia Black, Ending the Silence presenter; Dr. Mathis Kennington, LMFT, Clinical Director with Austin Family Institute; Dianna Groves, AISD Crisis Coordinator; Dr.Elizabeth Minne, Ph.D, Executive Director VIDA Clinic; Karen Ranus, NAMI Austin Executive Director; Moderator Jessica Miller, NAMI Austin Program Director

For more information, contact NAMI Austin at 512-420-9810 or [email protected].



Changing the Mental Health Conversation to Save Lives

Jay Styles, 2016 NAMIWalks Austin Honorary Walk Chair

kamx_jay_stylesWhen I was six years old, I’d listen to the radio every day, memorizing the speech patterns of my favorite DJs. Using my mom’s hairbrush, I’d practice in my room and dream of being on the radio. My career started early, and I’ve been living that dream since I was 16.

Today, I have a successful radio career and a bright future. I’ve interviewed national politicians, hung out with rock stars and had lunch with entertainers. I have a wonderful wife and two kids including a son born just weeks ago. Life is good now, but the path to get here has been a dark one.

I’m one of the 15 million people in the United States that live with depression, and it’s something I have battled my whole life. At age 11, I had my first suicidal thoughts and isolated myself from other kids, afraid they would see my pain or think I was weird. I relied on a loving family home life and a lot lies to get me through. After more than a decade of pretending to be happy, I hit rock bottom.

My past is littered with numerous suicide attempts, stints in rehab, a multitude of ruined relationships and lost job opportunities. Like many people that live with a mental illness, I was too ashamed to talk about the overwhelming darkness that I lived in each day and reluctant to get the help I needed.

One in five Americans will experience a mental illness this year, a higher prevalence rate than our most commonly recognized public health concerns such as diabetes, cancer and asthma. Like cancer, diabetes and asthma, mental health disorders can be deadly when left untreated.

According to a recent study from the Center for Health Statistics, suicides have surged to their highest levels in 30 years, with approximately 117 people losing their lives each day. Research has found that in 90% of suicides, the person had an undiagnosed, untreated or undertreated mental health condition.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and a great time start changing the mental health conversation. We need to create a community where people feel more comfortable talking about their mental health struggles and asking for help.

Here’s my three “Bs” for creating change:

jayBe vocal. People need to know they’re not alone, and you might save a life just by saying, “I notice you haven’t been yourself lately. Let’s talk. I’m here for you.”

Be an example. Talk about mental health in a positive way, and if you’ve had your own struggles, share your story. People often talk openly about their mental health for the first time after I share my own story.

Be active. Get involved, and stand up for change. As the Honorary Walk Chair of this year’s NAMIWalks Austin, I’m taking my first steps in becoming a mental health advocate.  You can join me at the Long Center on Saturday, September 24 at 8:00 a.m. and support the free mental health community programming provided by the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Austin).

My dream has shifted now that I’ve traded in the hairbrush for a real microphone. I’m speaking up, sharing my story and asking people to join me in creating a community in which people feel comfortable talking about their mental health and get help when they need it.  This new dream has the potential to save lives, and I can’t wait to see it happen.

Jay Styles, Mix 94.7 radio host and music director, is a NAMI Austin Ending the Silence presenter and Honorary Walk Chair for the 11th annual NAMIWalks Austin scheduled for Saturday, September 24 at the Long Center. Registration is free at If you don’t have a team and would like to walk with Jay, you can join his team at


NAMI Austin volunteers with the In Our Own Voice program provided education to AISD police trainees on July 11, 2016. Through personal storytelling, IOOV offers a unique opportunity for listeners to learn about mental health challenges directly from people who have experienced them.Learn more about In Our Own Voice here and see the full story here.

William Swift is an actor working in the Austin area. This past January, William performed the one-man show Thom Pain (based on Nothing) by Will Eno in collaboration with director Allison Young and raised over $500 for NAMI Austin to support our NAMI Basics teacher training scheduled for July 23-24. William and the director chose this play because its themes deal directly with the experiences of people living with depression and anxiety. NAMI Austin is exceedingly grateful to William using his talent to shine the light on the mental illness and support the important work we’re doing to change the way our community address mental health needs. If you’d like to learn more about William and his work, you can visit his website here.