Friday, September 3, 2004

Hailey couple honored for advancing mental health concerns

Jim and Tewa Evans, of Hailey, have received selfless service awards from the Mental Health Advisory Board of Idaho.

Jim and Tewa Evans, of Hailey, are living proof that individuals can make a difference. They are being recognized for their five years of service on the Mental Health Advisory Board of Idaho. Their efforts and dedication to improving services for the mentally ill have had an impact in our own community and on the state level, said Tom Hanson, NAMI Wood River Valley chapter president.

?Jim and Tewa are devoted to speaking on behalf of those who may not be able to speak up so clearly for themselves. Services for the mentally ill in our own community have improved greatly since Jim and Tewa Evans took on the task,? Hanson said.

The Evanses were cited forming the Wood River Valley chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill six years ago. Over the years, they also have alerted school and emergency response staff to the early warning signs of mental illness in children and adolescents by sponsoring the Red Flags Training and by distributing the nationally recognized pamphlet ?Parents and Teachers as Allies--Recognizing Early-Onset Mental Illness in Children and Adolescents.? Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Idaho?s young people. Recognizing signs of depression, anxiety, and other disorders the way we recog-nize symptoms of other illnesses can save a child?s life.

The Evanses are certified teachers for NAMI?s Family-to-Family 12-week educational program offering information on treatment and teaching the skills necessary for coping with mental illness. An ongoing support group is available as well. Blaine County now has a Mental Health Service Directory to respond to these needs. It lists services available locally, statewide and nationally.

Tewa Evans, a retired nurse, has served on the NAMI board at the state level for three years. Jim and Tewa have attended three NAMI national conven-tions in an effort to better the lives of those with chronic and persistent mental illness. Jim and Tewa have both received ?Advocate of the Year? awards by the Idaho chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Tewa was also on the Idaho State Mental Health Council for two years. In his devotion to the cause, her husband Jim never missed a Council meeting. Tewa will continue to serve on the NAMI boards of the state of Idaho and of the Wood River Valley.

The Evanses also were recognized for making some very tangible progress on the legal front. They worked to change the language in the ?Gravely Dis-abled Law.? Law enforcement is now allowed to intercede during an individual?s crisis before it escalates to a point of harm to him or others. A wallet size mental health information card will soon be offered by NAMI and state and local agencies. This card will be given to outpatients as they begin their recovery and re-integration

NAMI of the Wood River Valley meets at Emanuel Episcopal Church in Hailey, Bullion and 2nd Street, on the first and third Tuesdays at 6 p.m. NAMI provides education, advocacy and support for individuals and families dealing with mental illness. For more information, contact Tom Hanson, local NAMI chapter president, at 720-3337.

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