HarrisVictoria Harris MD, MPH

Nominated by NAMI Washington
Member, NAMI Spokane (WA)
Listen to Victoria's Candidate Speech

Job Title or Position:

  • Retired Psychiatrist (Physician)

NAMI Leadership Experience:

  • NAMI Washington Board of Directors (Board Member, 2022-present)
  • NAMI Washington Peer Leadership Council Representative (2023-present)

Additional NAMI Involvement:

  • NAMI Washington legislative advocacy  
  • Monthly attendance at combined NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group and Family Support Group in Jefferson County, WA (2020-present).
  • Monthly attendance at NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group in Spokane, WA (2020-present).
  • Accepted for publication by NAMI: Harris V.  Neuroplasticity III: Trusting self after jail & psychosis. Expected publication August 2023.
  • https://www.namiwa.org/nami-wa-notables

Other Board Service:

  • Partnership Steering Committee, Special Projects of National Significance (Ryan White Title Funding) (Chair [elected], 1998-2001)

Relationship to Mental Health:

  • Individual with first-person experience of mental health illness; Family member or direct/front-line support of someone with mental illness; Provider/mental health practitioner/employee in the field

Candidate Strengths Assessment

The candidate indicated they have experience in the following areas that will help NAMI achieve its mission and strategic goals:

  • Adult Education, Advocacy, Criminal Justice, Medicine, Mental Health Service/Support, Program Research/Evaluation, Research/Academia

Estimated years of experience in the above areas:

  • My entire adult professional life has been spent in pursuit of issues highlighted above. In addition to training, experience, service and leadership as a forensic and hospital-based psychiatrist, I approach systemic issues from a public health perspective. Finally, unfortunately, I was also incarcerated in a small rural jail for two months while acutely psychotic. It is the culmination of my personal and professional experiences that brings me forward as a candidate for the NAMI BOD.

The candidate indicated they have connections and networks in the following areas:

  • Criminal Justice, Legal/Law

Additional information about the connections and networks:

  • Please refer to my CV. My previous professional affiliations (including leadership and service to the organizations) have included the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare, The American Association of Correctional Healthcare, and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

Candidate Leadership Style

The candidate indicated the following descriptors represent their leadership style:

  • Action-oriented, Consensus Builder, Data Driven, Innovator, Outcome-oriented, Process Thinker, Team Player

Candidate Narrative

The candidate indicated that they possess these specific strengths and attributes that the NAMI Board has identified as high priority for the 2023-2024 Board:
  • Criminal Justice

As a NAMI BOD candidate, I offer a unique perspective that is layered in my professional and personal experiences. I have training, experiences and knowledge from being a forensic psychiatrist, with a focus on correctional psychiatry. From providing direct care, to case consultations, to policy formulation and dissemination of quality assurance materials, I have worked with inter-disciplinary teams within different criminal justice settings. I know first-hand the resource and environment challenges in these settings. As important, are my personal experiences. I also know what it is like to emerge slowly from psychosis while in solitary confinement in a rural jail …. and to struggle desperately to make sense of what happened. And from there, to somehow recover. I have the ability to positively influence, inspire and guide others towards achieving the objectives set forth in NAMI’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, with respect to decriminalizing mental illness. Based on professional experiences, I can help set clear process and outcome markers for the objectives involving education and support, advocacy, and community leadership. I facilitate productive work by creating an environment where individuals and the group are respected and can thrive. The United States continues to incarcerate more people with mental illness, per capita, than any other county in the world that keeps records of such events. I view the incarceration of mentally ill people as a public health epidemic – I would be honoured to help implement NAMIs Strategic Plan on behalf of this group of marginalized and disenfranchised people.

I personally have helped advance the NAMI mission in my community by attending peer-support groups, using my story so others know they aren't alone, and as a direct fund-raising tool.

I work well in coordination with other leaders to accomplish goals as evidenced by my professional career.

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