Friday 20 July 2012


A great pleasure to welcome an old friend of Hafal Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia, former President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – the largest mental health organisation in the world.

Suzanne, a service user and psychiatrist, was instrumental in the success of "In Our Own Voice", the unique US public education programme which is a key inspiration behind the training programme being delivered by Hafal on behalf of Time to Change Wales.

During her visit Suzanne, who is currently the President of NAMI Pennsylvania and Assistant Clinical Professor at University of Pittsburgh, gave a presentation to service users, carers and staff about the work of NAMI.

Suzanne said: "Time to Change Wales presents a wonderful opportunity to change the lives of people with mental illness and their families by reducing stigma.

"As a service user myself, I appreciate your approach. It is a time-tested, thoughtful educational programme that impacts the lives of people who live every day with mental health needs and the wider public.

"I am very impressed with Time To Change Wales - its design, staff and presenters are all very knowledgeable. The programme is perfect to reduce stigma and discrimination."

Commenting on Suzanne’s visit Kevin Mort, Manager of Hafal's National Learning Centre, said: "Suzanne’s presentation gave us both invaluable practical advice and huge inspiration. Above all she validated our conviction that in order to be effective the anti-discrimination message must be delivered personally by those with the real expertise – people with lived experience of mental illness."

Some facts I've been toying with:-

The United States has just over 300 million citizens, almost exactly 100 times more than Wales (just over 3 million). That means that Hafal's impressive 1,200 members might be 120,000 if we were a US charity. But NAMI has over 250,000 members. That's what I call a challenge...

Pennsylvania incidentally is of course the most "Welsh" of the States, as the destination of choice for Welsh Quakers in the 17C and later for highly-skilled mining and steel workers who were enticed over by attractive wages (Suzanne's Welsh grandfather being one such).