SIERRA VISTA — The local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)) is hosting its annual meeting on Saturday from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.

The event is at the Cochise County Foothills Complex West Building, 4001 E. Foothills Drive in Sierra Vista.

Bullying Prevention Specialist Da’mond Holt of Tucson is the event’s keynote speaker.

A certified mental health and trauma crisis specialist, Holt’s research is focused on the impact chronic stress, complex trauma, PTSD and long-term grief can have on brain development in children. He conducts professional development training for school districts and department of education agencies throughout the west coast.

“Bullying is a growing epidemic and one of the major causes of suicide and attempted suicides in youth” said Judy Tritz, former NAMI SEAZ board president and a current board member. “We are pleased to have Dr. Holt as our keynote speaker at our annual meeting.”

NAMI SEAZ executive director Kelly Norris will present information about the local organization’s “Ending the Silence” program and other free resources children and families can turn to for help with mental health issues.

“We go into community schools and talk to students about mental illness, bullying, suicide prevention and the stigma surrounding these different mental health issues,” Norris said.

“The purpose is to teach children in our community about the resources that are available to them. Along with Ending the Silence, there is a 24-7 text-to-chat line that children can access by texting 741-741. Young people who are struggling with mental health issues seem to feel comfortable using this particular resource. It’s one of my personal favorites because it’s one of the more sought after resources among young people.”

Norris also praised Holt as the program’s keynote speaker.

“I’ve heard him speak before, and he’s both informative and engaging. I’m looking forward to hearing his presentation on Saturday.”

Historically, the NAMI SEAZ annual meeting draws a good sized crowd, Norris said.

“We get city and county officials, representatives from local hospitals and mental health professionals, parents and the general public at these meetings.”


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