Ashley Smith, Founder and Executive Director
After being institutionalized for five months, and receiving an official diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, at the age of 20 in 2007, Ashley joined an outpatient treatment program and clubhouse for people living with a mental illness. The program introduced Ashley to informative groups such as Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). It was during this phase of her recovery she had a vision of helping peers cope with mental illness.
In 2008, Ashley relocated back to Atlanta to reunite with her immediate family, and she continued to get involved with educational and other support groups. Soon afterward, Ashley’s sister thought of a great idea to keep track of her symptoms, research, and experiences, by keeping an online diary in the form of a blog which Ashley titled, Overcoming Schizophrenia. The blog was established in September 2008.
Eventually, Ashley started a nonprofit organization called, Embracing My Mind, Inc., which became incorporated in August 2009. Again, the mission of the organization is to provide peer support, advocacy, and education to low income and homeless individuals living with serious mental health concerns. Ashley got even more involved with the National Alliance on Mental IIlness (NAMI) and soon collaborated with organizations that support people in transition such as Cafe 458 and Hope Through Divine Intervention, Inc.
Now, Ashley maintains the Overcoming Schizophrenia blog and leads groups including Strengthening Each Other, NAMI Peer-to-Peer Recovery Education Course, and NAMI Connections support group. Ashley also continues to share her story in various writings and makes appearances which can be captured on the media page.
- NAMI In Our Own Voice: Living with a Mental Illness, 2010
- NAMI Peer-to-Peer Recovery Education Course, 2009, 2010
- NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group, 2010
- Video Opportunities for Innovative Condom Education and Safer Sex (VOICES/VOCES), 2009
- Sistering, Informing, Healing Living and Empowering (SIHLE), HIV prevention and education program for teenage girls, 2009
- NAMI Peer-to-Peer Mentor of the Year, 2010
- Top Schizophrenia Blog 2010, Presented by Medical Billing and Coding
- Passionate Blogger Award, Presented by a fellow blogger
- Top Blog Award, Presented by Disease.com