Thomas J. Powell, MSW, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan School of Social Work
Throughout my career I’ve sought to make life better for people affected by mental illness. Through my research and teaching as a U-M faculty member I’ve endeavored to strengthen the role of mutual help and advocacy organizations for people with mental health conditions. The seed for this interest lies in family connections to mental illness. The genius of NAMI, as I see it, is to recognize that even the best professional care, though absolutely essential, is not enough. It must be coordinated with the special empathy, practical knowledge, and advocacy assistance available from those who have been there–those who are successfully living with or in support of those living with mental health conditions. And behavioral health providers must be held accountable for helping their clients and patients gain access to NAMI resources. These ideas were prominent in my teaching of graduate level policy and practice courses. They also imbued my role as a Family-to-Family instructor and in my many years of service on the board.