Community Members Make a Difference for Mental Health

by Holly Wong

“Mental health is important to me because it affects more people in our society than what is known, and I strive to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.” – Dan Walker, MIAW 2022 Honoree

For Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in early October, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Yolo County recognized five individuals who have made significant contributions locally to support those experiencing mental illness and their families. MIAW is a nationally-recognized awareness week that was established in 1990 to raise awareness of mental illness, fight discrimination, and provide support.

2022 Yolo County MIAW Honorees:

County Supervisor Don Saylor, Community Member Honoree

• Don Saylor’s tenure in public service has included 27 years in elected office, during which time he advocated for mental health from a policy perspective. Don served as the Board Liaison to the Local Mental Health Board where he championed implementing Laura’s Law, playing an important part in the mental health continuum of care.
• “I am optimistic that the stigma and loneliness that have long-shrouded mental illness will continue to shrink and that resources and support will continue to grow… Mental wellness is foundational to life, essential to growth, and imperative for our survival and success.” – Don Saylor

Jeni Price, Family Member Honoree

• Jeni has been involved with NAMI Yolo County for over a decade – seeking information and support for her family, then giving back to our community as a support group leader, class facilitator, and board member. Jeni has worked tirelessly to ensure families experiencing mental illness have the resources they need.
• “When we come together and share our stories – of confusion, despair, coping, tenacity, resilience – we let each other know that we are not alone and that there is hope.” -Jeni Price

Terri Smyth Canillo & Juan Pulido, CHOC Housing, Professional Honorees

• Terri and Juan work at Community Housing Opportunities Corporation (CHOC) where they assist individuals experiencing mental illness and others with affordable housing and supportive programs to transform neighborhoods and stabilize lives. Both Terri and Juan provide compassionate care and leadership that makes a significant impact for our community. Juan, Community Impact Project Coordinator, has been dedicated to serving and navigating the challenges in supportive mental health housing for nearly a decade. Terri, Vice President Community Impact, provides leadership and oversight with more than 25 years of experience in affordable housing, mental health, program development, and community social work.
• “We need to realize that mental illness is also a health condition, something we should not fear nor stigmatize. Helping someone with a mental illness…warrants the same level of care and effort that we give to anyone else facing a challenge.” – Terri Smyth Canillo
• “Mental health is important to me because it is a social issue with enormous need. I want to contribute to mental health by advocating and working to meet the need.” – Juan Pulido

Dan Walker, Peer Honoree

• Dan works for CommuniCare Health Centers where he started as a Peer Advocate. At the Rally for Recovery, Dan shared his personal experience with mental illness and homelessness. Dan is now finishing school to become a drug and alcohol counselor. He is passionate about recovery and making an impact in our community by working closely with others experiencing challenges from mental illness.
• “Recovery means… learning to live with the challenges that we’ve been faced with and not giving up.” – Dan Walker, MIAW 2022 Honoree

One in five U.S. adults and one in six youth (ages 6-17) experience mental illness each year. NAMI Yolo County provides free mental health support, resources, and education for individuals who live with a mental health condition and their loved ones. If you or a loved one is in crisis, call (888) 965-6647 for the Yolo County mental health crisis line or call or text 988 for the national lifeline.

About NAMI Yolo County

NAMI Yolo County provides advocacy, support, education, and public awareness so that all individuals and families who are affected by mental illness can build better lives. We envision a stigma-free future where all people affected by a mental health condition experience resiliency and recovery with safe, affordable housing, meaningful activities, supportive relationships, and hope. Support groups, classes, and other resources are at

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