Nizhoni Health Systems

Nizhoni Health Community Service Starts with NAMI

Nizhoni Health works with the Massachusetts chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to promote their events and raise awareness for programs and research. Our relationship with NAMI has grown since we first worked together more than a decade ago. We share a common goal with NAMI: to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illnesses.

There are three NAMI programs we have participated in recently: CEOs Against Stigma, In Our Own Voice and NAMIWalk Massachusetts. These and many other programs help to change the way people view mental health.

CEOs Against Stigma is an initiative designed to promote acceptance of people with mental illnesses in the workplace. Hundreds of leaders throughout Massachusetts have signed on to become a CEO Against Stigma. At their companies, they are doing everything they can to eradicate the stigma of mental illness so employees that battle those illnesses can feel supported, comfortable and appreciated at work. It is also important they know that they can get assistance if needed.

Nizhoni Health CEO, Joseph McDonough, was named a CEO Against Stigma earlier this year. When he started the company, he began as a clinician that frequently served patients with mental illnesses. To this day, he goes out of his way to make sure Nizhoni Health staff members are happy and supported.

When he was asked about the campaign NAMI is running, McDonough said, "I am proud to be a CEO Against Stigma. Our clinicians provide medical home health services to thousands of people with mental illnesses throughout Massachusetts. We have often been inspired by the courage, determination and dignity in which our clients face their challenges. At Nizhoni Health, we bring an understanding of mental illness into our workplace and know that mental illness can affect anyone. We recognize that employees challenged with mental illness must be supported and treated with respect, understanding and compassion."

Some of the other prominent leaders involved in NAMI’s CEOs Against Stigma are:

  • Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts
  • Martin Walsh, Mayor of Boston
  • Monica Bharel, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Myechia Minter-Jordan, President of the Dimock Center
  • Elizabeth Nabel, President of Brigham and Women’s Health Care.

Our CEO, these leaders and the CEOs of hundreds of other companies in the state are combatting the stigma of mental illness in the workplace through awareness and support for their staff members.

One way that some companies are spreading awareness for mental illnesses at work is through another NAMI initiative, “In Our Own Voice.”

Nizhoni Health hosted an “In Our Own Voice” presentation on April 25th. Eliza Williamson from NAMI came to our office to share her personal experience with a mental illness. During the session, she discussed how various people in her life offered their support. Through promoting understanding, we can create an accepting environment for people to receive treatment for their mental illnesses.

It is imperative to foster a stigma-free workplace to ensure staff members are happy, comfortable and productive. If there is one less stressor on people who suffer from mental illnesses, it can improve the overall health of our country.

“It was a privilege to participate in the event,” Angela Garrigos, a Nizhoni Health Billing Associate said. “Eliza gave us a close look at her mental illnesses and how the stigma affected her.”

Hearing stories from people who have a mental illness and the stigma associated with them was a great way to prepare for the most recent NAMI Massachusetts event, the NAMIWalk on May 14th. Nizhoni Health has been involved in NAMIWalk Massachusetts for more than five years.

This year’s walk featured hundreds of people walking to support themselves, family members, friends and other members of the community. It was inspiring to see how many individuals came together for the cause. More than $600,000 was raised for NAMI Massachusetts as a result of donors and people who walked the five-kilometer course. Nizhoni Health had close to 50 participants in the walk. We also gave out beach balls and health tips at our resource table.

Check out our video documentation here:

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In addition to CEOs Against Stigma, In Our Own Voice and NAMIWalk Massachusetts, NAMI Massachusetts hosts programs throughout the year. You can learn more about the organization here.

There are many ways that Nizhoni Health is trying to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness. We frequently use our social media channels to promote the cause as well. If you are looking for a helpful resource, the Twitter hashtag #imnotashamed is especially encouraging.