Peer Leadership Council
The NAMI Wisconsin Peer Leadership Council was created in 2003 with the support of the NAMI Wisconsin Board of Directors and the staff of NAMI Wisconsin. The NAMI Wisconsin Peer Leadership Council is a committee of the NAMI Wisconsin Board of Directors, providing meaningful input to the NAMI Wisconsin community.
The members of the NAMI Wisconsin Peer Leadership Council are dedicated to the mission and goals that have been developed since its inception.
One goal of the NAMI Wisconsin Peer Leadership Council is leadership development. As the Peer Leadership Council begins to create a vision for itself, and implement plans of action, members of the Council learn how to exercise supportive leadership and consensus-building techniques.
The NAMI Wisconsin Peer Leadership Council enhances NAMI Wisconsin’s efforts toward supporting Recovery and creating meaningful participation for all NAMI Wisconsin consumers.
We ask all members of NAMI Wisconsin to support the ongoing efforts of the NAMI Wisconsin Peer Leadership Council.
With Special Thanks to Our
NAMI WISCONSIN PEER LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBERS
Chrissy Barnard, Co-Chair
Catherine Woelm, Co-Chair
We are currently recruiting council members. Please contact us to learn more!
Chrissy Barnard, Co-Chair
My name is Chrissy, and I was first introduced to NAMI about 9 years ago when I attended some Peer Support Group meetings prior to my road to recovery. My recovery was a long and challenging process with somewhere around 33 hospitalizations including a stay at Winnebago from January to May in 2008. During that stay, I lost my pets, friends, control of my finances and health care decisions, my home, eventually my job and my sense of self. However, it was during that stay that I received some assessments and diagnosis of bipolar, PTSD, anxiety, and borderline personality. Eventually, I moved back to my home area in Superior, Wisconsin and started DBT. DBT gave me the skills I needed to take my life back.
I was on the steering committee to start NAMI Douglas County Wisconsin, and I am currently on the Board of Directors. I also work full-time, and purchased my first house, have a cat and a dog named Roxy, I teach 3 community education classes a month, led the NAMI Douglas County Peer Support Groups, go to church regularly, am a member of the Recovery Implementation Task Force committee, attended Peer Specialist Training in August 2018, am an active member of the NAMI Wisconsin Peer Leadership Council, and most of all I am happily enjoying life.
Catherine Woelm, Co-Chair
Hello! My name is Catherine Woelm, Certified Peer Specialist and Co-Chair of NAMI Wisconsin’s Peer Leadership Council. I was first introduced to NAMI while in the Partial Hospitalization Program at Sheboygan Memorial Hospital years ago. NAMI came to my attention again years later when I was in the Certified Peer Specialist Training classes in Green Bay, WI, and one of my fellow participants was active with NAMI Wisconsin, Brown County. Learning more about what she was doing with NAMI for her peers inspired me to do the same.
My journey to learn to live with my Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety started in 2010 when after more than a decade of understanding that there was something misfiring in my brain and finally overcoming my self-stigma enough to get help. For the next eight years, I went through multiple hospitalizations, outpatient programs, more medications than I can remember, and suicide attempts. In that time, my physical health rapidly declined due to medication side effects and I never felt any more stable. Finally, after a suicide attempt that cost me the trust of family, friends, and peers, I admitted that despite my desperation for traditional treatments to work, they weren’t going to.
With the help and guidance of a fabulous therapist who had been living with Depression, as well as my long-time psychologist, I was taken off all medications. I had to go through withdrawal from the medicine, but also then learn to recognize and cope with my mood cycles without medicinal help. I lived well—if cautiously—for the next year, until I could no longer cope with the cycles without additional treatment. In the summer of 2019, I began Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). While frightening due to the dark history, myths and rumors surrounding ECT as a mental health treatment, for the first time ever, I have a treatment program that works for me. And so, my journey continues with renewed hope.
As a member of NAMI Wisconsin’s Peer Leadership Council, my goal is to share my story, and to show that anyone—even someone as mired in fear, anger, stigma, and hopelessness as I once was—can find their way out of the dark and into the light.
My journey with mental health recovery started in 2013. I look forward to advocating for others in need of support with their mental health recovery as a member of the NAMI Peer Leadership Council. I hope to raise awareness of resources available to those in need, and to connect individuals, families, providers, and the community with the great resources of NAMI. It’s important to provide support and resources to those on their journey to mental health wellness.
“I discovered NAMI when I began to get my life back. NAMI played an extremely important role in my recovery. The Peer Leadership Council was a way to not only give back to NAMI but also to make sure that our voices, as consumers, are heard!”
— Jean DeDie