Photography Gallery: Faces of Mental Illness

David Cameron, 67

Everyone pictured here has a mental illness. They live in this community. A daughter. An uncle. A sister. A friend. A neighbor. A co-worker.

And everyone pictured here receives or gives help at the Stanislaus affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI), which serves as a kind of community center for those who have nowhere else to go, or who want to help mental illness find a more normal place in Modesto. Some attend group therapy sessions there. Others – more than 50 – volunteer to take their peers to the movies or to tell their personal stories to groups and each other in the hopes of bringing mental illness out of the shadows.

“It would be nice to have it looked at as an illness, not a mental problem,” said Joyce Plis, executive director of NAMI Stanislaus, in its 17th year. “My hope is that we can do something about the stigma and do education to the public so they know how important it is for people to get treatment.” With treatment, Plis says, people with mental illness can function well in society.

“I’m all for fighting the stigma,” said Richard M. Hamilton, 53, of Modesto. “I want people to know that it’s OK. I’m OK.”

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Faces of mental illness, 3 years later: Antoinette and Randy Brooks

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Lauren M. Whaley

Freelance journalist Lauren M. Whaley is a photographer, radio producer and print reporter specializing in topics related to mental illness, reproductive health care and health disparities. She is also a childbirth photographer.This year, She is working on a series about how low-income parents access care for perinatal mental illnesses. The project is funded in part by the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism.She was a 2016-17 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.Her work has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) STEM story project. She has contributed radio, video, photography and written stories to KQED Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Times and other media outlets. For six years, she worked as the Center for Health Reporting's multimedia journalist. She is a past president of the national organizationJournalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) and spent her early 20s leading canoe expeditions for young women, including a solo-led 45-trip in the Canadian Arctic. She is based in Los Angeles.

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