June 20, 2007

NAMI Chapters Putting Video Presentations on Internet

Around the world, support groups like the NAMI Chapter in Hamilton County, Ohio have regular monthly meetings with presentations from experts in treatment, recovery and prevention of mental illness, as well as from parents who have learned a great deal about how to navigate the mental health system and want to pass on the knowledge they've gained to others.

Imagine how valuable it would be if these support groups started video taping these excellent presentations and offered them on the web (via google video) for everyone to benefit from, any time of any day of the year.

The good news is that this is starting to happen and its not very difficult. We've just been notified that Hamilton County NAMI has begun to put videos into Google video that introduce people to their support group, and also provide videos of their presentations that they have on a regular basis.

And while the Hamilton County NAMI sounds like they've got to some reasonable effort and cost by contracting out to record and edit the video of the presentations - it can be even easier and cheaper. Here at schizophrenia.com we sat in on a lecture by Dr. Demian Rose of University San Francisco Medical School and recorded his presentation on Schizophrenia and Social Cognition with a simple hand-held digital video camera and then uploaded the video to our computer and then to Google video - and over 10,000 people have watched it so far (helping educate many, many people in the process).

Further down on this page we have an interview with Paul Komarek who tells us how they initiated the project and then implemented their ideas on the videos. If your NAMI group has some additional questions on how to do this - Paul says that you can contact him at this email address: komarek (at sign)humanintervention.net

We've included the two they've put up below for your viewing. We encourage you to talk to your local support group (NAMI, Schizophrenia Society of Canada, Rethink in the UK, etc.) about recording these types of educational presentations and putting them into Google video so that everyone can benefit! Please let us know if you hear of any support groups that have put up any good video presentations onto the Internet so that we can notify our viewers.

NAMI Hamilton County Introduction Video

Recovery and Resilience for Children with Mental Illness
- Part 1 of 4

Additional Videos from this presentation (Parts 2 thru 4)

Interview with Paul Komarek on the NAMI Hamilton County On-line Video project:

Schizophrenia.com: How did this video initiative start? Who started it, how did it become realized?

Paul Komarek: My involvement with the video project began in late 2006, when NAMI Hamilton County hired me to freshen up its website. I designed the original site over five years earlier, when I was the group’s president.

The NAMI-HC board had been discussing audio or video recording its meetings for perhaps six months before they called me in.

Once I learned of the group’s interest in videotaping the monthly meetings, the plan firmed up. We did some planning work to set up the project. NAMI provided a small budget for producing the videos.

We had originally planned to distribute DVDs of the meetings. After viewing the first completed production, we decided that streaming the video from the NAMI website made the most sense. We split our 50-minute program into four segments, and posted a brief "highlights" version as well.

Schizophrenia.com: How long did it take?

Paul Komarek: I had 30 days lead time to prepare for the first meeting. It took about three weeks to receive the video from my production crew, and an additional week to finalize the highlights clip.

Posting to the website was a snap once I located the necessary software. It takes time to convert and upload the video, but for the most part the software does the work.

Schizophrenia.com: What have been the key challenges in this project - and how did you overcome them?

Paul Komarek: Culture and consensus were the main barriers to recording these meetings.

By culture I mean the need to respect attendees’ privacy, in view of the stigma surrounding many of the issues discussed at these meetings. NAMI meetings are not formal support groups – yet participants often address painful topics like suicide attempts, a child’s trouble at school, substance abuse, family problems, and contacts with the law.

The need for consensus comes from NAMI’s grassroots traditions – we could not institute a major change like this without first polling the members and gaining permission.

The web redesign process offered opportunities to overcome both barriers. We were able to get member opinions using our new email newsletter, our new website and an online survey. We combined this data with discussions we had at membership meetings. This work told us that that members overwhelmingly supported a project that would deliver important information to people who needed it.

We were also able to find consensus around a production concept that focuses on recording the meeting’s featured speaker, but staying away from audience member faces. This technique offered sufficient privacy to preserve the meetings as forums for addressing tough issues.

Surprisingly, the technology itself never became a major issue. I recruited a pair of Broadcast Technology students from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, who do the camera and technical editing work for a modest stipend. I'm also paid a fee for producing the video.

The rest, including hosting the videos on the Google Video website, and the software to prepare the upload, is free.

Schizophrenia.com: Do you have any recommendations for other support groups that may
want to do this?

Paul Komarek: My first recommendation is not to consider video technology an insurmountable barrier. Most communities have schools with broadcast technology programs, or cable access providers who can supply training and equipment. A reasonable budget for the video production team can deliver a product that will meet your group’s needs.

I also recommend producing videos that support your group’s goals. NAMI’s mission is education, advocacy and support. Streaming video is a technique with potential beyond publicity – it can help confront the stigma of mental illness directly.

Finally, I recommend sensitivity to the needs of participants. Edit the material with care. Make it useful, not an imposition on the audience or an invasion of privacy.


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