It will take the voices of many to stop stigma and discrimination in our community. This collection includes real, first-hand stories of everyday people from Sacramento County who are living with or supporting someone living with a mental health condition. By telling their stories, our Speakers Bureau members aim to inspire hope, wellness, recovery and positivity for families and individuals experiencing mental illness. As you read on, you may find that mental illness is not always what you think.

Speakers’ Bureau Stories

Claudia Fernandez-Niedzielski

It was a cold, February night in Lester, Iowa in 1992 when the world as I knew it changed forever. I was staying with members of the family who had hosted me as an exchange student in 1986. Suddenly, I was awakened by bright lights that begged me to follow them.

meet Claudia

Evan Marmol

Hello, my name is Evan. I live with mental illness, specifically OCD and depression. If you’re reading this, you might recognize me as your therapist, colleague, neighbor or friend.

meet Evan

Kim Frisella

November 25. That was the date. I wrote it on my calendar and even used it as my password at work. My Date of Death. 

meet Kim

La Viola Ward

I grew up in a household where mental health was not a ‘thing’. Our home was headed by a strong, black single mother who worked her fingers to the bone. We had a strict Pentecostal household and rejected of any secular or “worldly” living. In our world, you laid hands in prayer on someone suffering […]

meet La

Vanessa Nino-Tapia

When I was 22, I had everything to look forward to. I was accepted into graduate school, was planning my wedding…

meet Vanessa

Nancy Alpert

There are so many things I would like to do—like keep the house organized, clean the kitchen and empty the garbage…

meet Nancy

Mike McCarthy

My name is Mike McCarthy and I live with severe bipolar and clinical depression mental illness disorders…

meet Mike

Michael Hansen

Even as a boy, I knew something was wrong. Not just the typical kid stuff, but serious swings in my mood…

meet Michael
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Request a Speaker

Would you like to request a Speaker for your next event? Please complete the Speaker Request Form by following the guidelines outlined on the application. A member of the “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project Stop Stigma Sacramento Speakers Bureau team will contact you within five business days of receiving your request.

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