History: In January 2008, a steering committee of consumers, families and providers across the US formed to create an organization dedicating to improving the lives of people with schizophrenia and related disorders. On February 28, 2008, the steering committee named the new organization Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA). In March 2008, the SARDAA Board of Directors was formed, and a part-time consultant was retained to build the organization. In May, 2008 SARDAA was incorporated as a non-stock corporation in Maryland.
Schizophrenia Alliance (SA), founded by Joann Verbanic in 1985, is a self-help/peer support 6-step program run by and for persons who have schizophrenia or a related illness. Since 1985, thousands of people have been supported by more than 150 groups that meet throughout 31 states, as well as in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, France, Russia, Germany, India and Venezuela. SARDAA has adopted SA as its signature program, as there was no nationally-supported parent organization to provide the support, materials, training and outreach.
SARDAA continues to grow and develop while daily contacts for information regarding schizophrenia-related disorders from consumers, family members, professionals and other interested individuals are answered.
Speaking opportunities have amazed people as they discover their lack of understanding of what schizophrenia-related illnesses are and are grateful for demystifying and enlightening them. Personal contact has gained momentum to eliminate stigma and discrimination.
Weekly SA Group Conference calls and Family and Friends Support Conference Calls have increased in participation from 2 participants to 16 in each call including some international participants.
Connection with other’s affected by schizophrenia-related disorders has supported people to re-engage with their treatment provider.
We engage in social networking and provide a monthly eNewsletter and Blog disseminating up to date research and articles. Hundreds of individuals receive the monthly eNewsletter.
We have developed relationships with multiple stakeholders including: Mental Health America (MHA) national organization and multiple local organizations, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) national organization and multiple local organizations, NHMH (No Health without Mental Health), National Alliance to End Homelessness, World Fellowship For Schizophrenia And Allied Disorders National Institute of Mental Health, MayoClinic.com, Genetic Study National Institute of Mental Health site, Pete Earley, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, No Kidding Me too! (NKM2), Matters of the Mind, Australian Suicide Call Back Service, American Self-Help Group Clearinghouse, Mind Your Mind, Urban Mental Health Initiative, Canvas, the movie, WebMD, Bring Change 2 Mind, The Banyan, Bureau of Justice Assistance.
In May 2012 we held our first symposium/workshop in Detroit and trained over 30 people to lead SA groups around the country.
SARDAA Founders Mr. & Mrs. Russell Stalters hosted our 1st national conference, in Houston, Texas, “Minds on the Edge: A Call for Hope and Recovery” in September, 2012. The accompanying workshop taught people how to start and maintain a Schizophrenia Alliance (SA) support group. As a result, two new SA groups were founded in Houston. The conference provided friends, families and professionals with knowledge to aid individual’s in recovery and analyzed the challenges faced by professionals, the criminal justice system, and policymakers. Keynote speakers were Dr. Penelope Frese, Dr. Frederick Frese, and Dr. Thomas Powell.
Dr. Penelope Frese drew on her experience as a wife and mother to people with mental illness to give suggestions for recovery. The “Minds on the Edge” video and panel, moderated by Richard Kilberg and featuring Dr. Frederick Frese and others, also discussed how families can help their loved ones. The conference gave families the tools to negotiate public health resources and the criminal justice system. Dr. Catherine Cerulli explained how the criminal justice system addresses mental illness and gave families suggestions for navigating it. Susan Raffle spoke on NAMI’s “Family 2 Family” program that teaches families how to prepare for psychiatric emergencies, and Sgt. Patrick Plourde explained how the Houston Police Crisis Intervention Team program trains officers to deescalate these crises. Dr. Steven Lamberti showed how early intervention can prevent relapse in schizophrenia. Susan Sheena described the support friends and families receive from SARDAA. The SA workshop featured presentations by Joanne Verbanic (SA Founder), Jim Cronin (SA Co-Administrator), Dr.Tamara Navarro and Dr. Thomas Powell.
Following the exceptional conference, our “Jazz On My Mind” benefit dinner, concert and auction was enjoyed by many influential community members as well as guests from around the country. Entertainment included a soulful saxophone recital by Tom Braxton. Funds raised from the live auction benefited programs, education, and resources for those with mental health illnesses.
SARDAA was proud and honored to nominate Dr. Fredrick Frese for the the Lilly Reintegration Award for Advocacy. On April 9, 2013, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare recognized Dr. Frese with one of these most prestigious awards in behavioral healthcare. As part of his award, he received a grant to donate to a nonprofit of his choice and selected Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America.