Hopeful Moments: Witnessing Advocacy in Action

By Sheila Carter

When your vulnerable loved one is struggling due to illness and ends up navigating the legal system, it can be a heartbreaking experience. 

But while I was sitting in the Mental Health Division of the Superior Court of Los Angeles recently, I bore witness to a roomful of compassionate people working towards motivating those living with mental illness into recovery. It was moving to watch a judge listen with an empathic ear to those individuals who came before him to express their difficulties. I saw the judge’s concern for those not doing well and heard decisions aimed to give them the best chance for wellness. With tears welling up in my eyes, I listened to the judge speak with kindness and show real humanity towards those who have been shattered by mental illness.

This judge showed me that our loved ones matter and there is hope on the horizon. I watched as he reassured and encouraged those who came before him, believing that they are on the road to recovery. While our court system may not be the same for everyone, I am grateful that I saw public defenders, doctors, and a judge advocate on behalf of someone’s loved one. As we say in the NAMI community: We never give up hope. I left feeling more hopeful than before.

Sheila Carter in a NAMI WLA board member.