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NAMI and Mental Wellness Center Recognize Ann Eldridge for Dedication to Mental Health Advocacy

George Kaufmann (left), president of NAMI Southern Santa Barbara County and Annmarie Cameron (right), CEO of the Mental Wellness Center, presented Ann Eldridge with her award at a special ceremony held in her honor. Click to view larger
George Kaufmann (left), president of NAMI Southern Santa Barbara County and Annmarie Cameron (right), CEO of the Mental Wellness Center, presented Ann Eldridge with her award at a special ceremony held in her honor. (NAMI and Mental Wellness Center photo)

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southern Santa Barbara County chapter and the Mental Wellness Center recognized Ann Eldridge, a longtime mental health advocate in the community, with the inaugural “Ann Eldridge Award” for her unwavering dedication, leadership and support.

She was presented with the award at a special ceremony and reception held in her honor Thursday, Dec. 4, 2015, at the Mental Wellness Center’s Fellowship Club.  

“Ann Eldridge is a tireless, passionate advocate,” said Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center. “She has selflessly given of herself, providing compassionate counsel to countless families who are impacted by mental health disorders. Her volunteer work inspires others who have benefited from her mentoring to help others as she has helped them.” 

The local NAMI chapter and the Mental Wellness Center created the award to recognize NAMI members who have exhibited extraordinary devotion to upholding NAMI ideals through their advocacy on behalf of people living with mental health disorders and their families. 

For nearly 40 years, Eldridge has been a shining example of this advocacy, serving on countless boards, commissions and committees locally and statewide for NAMI, the Mental Wellness Center’s parent organization Mental Health America, as well as for our public mental health system. 

Eldridge is the founding president of the local NAMI chapter and has served for almost 20 years on the Santa Barbara County Mental Health Commission.

Additionally, she served on the board of the Mental Wellness Center, the ADMHS Consumer and Family Member Advisory Committee and is the founding board member of Proxy Parent Foundation, which operates the Planned Lifetime Assistance Network.

She has spent countless hours counseling and supporting local families as they’ve experiences mental health crises.

Eldridge was the first NAMI Family-to-Family teacher in Santa Barbara, bringing the free education program for family members of people living with mental illness to our community in 2000, which has since graduated more than 700 family members.

She also advocated creating the Family Advocate program in Santa Barbara, funded by ADMHS and based at the Mental Wellness Center, which has served more than 1,000 family members since its creation.

She is the recipient of numerous local and national awards, including the highest honor for a volunteer of the National Mental Health Association, the NAMI California Volunteer of the Year, and the John Van Aken award for Public Policy.

“Ann is the embodiment of NAMI’s national slogan: The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness,” said George Kaufmann, president of the local NAMI affiliate and a board member of the Mental Wellness Center. “She is indisputably Santa Barbara’s Voice on Mental Illness.

For more information about the Mental Wellness Center or NAMI Southern Santa Barbara County, please call 805.884.8440 or visit

Daniella Alkobi is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Mental Wellness Center.

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