National Alliance on Mental Illness in Delaware Delaware welcomes Joshua Thomas-Acker, PhD as its new executive director, effective immediately. Thomas brings to NAMI Delaware great breadth and depth of experience in mental health programming, counseling, advocacy and crisis intervention.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with this incredible organization of professionals, volunteers and members,” said Thomas. “We have important work ahead of us, and I look forward to partnering with those in Delaware who are striving to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness, increase access to treatment and provide opportunity for people with mental illness to enjoy happy and fulfilling lives.”
Originally a patrol officer with the Pinellas County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office, Thomas quickly learned that a substantial portion of his law enforcement work involved dealing with individuals in mental or emotional crisis. While maintaining his work with the sheriff’s office, he went on to become an expert in the field of mental health, earning a master's degree in counseling psychology and a doctorate in psychology. He is licensed as a counselor in Delaware and Florida, as well as being a nationally certified counselor, and was an active member of the NAMI Pinellas Advisory Board.
Over the course of his career in law enforcement and mental health in Pinellas County, Thomas developed the crisis intervention team program for law enforcement and corrections officers, including a 40-hour training program that prepares officers for encounters with people with mental illnesses. He also created and served in the first-ever dual role of law enforcement and mental health professional for this 3,200-member agency. Answering the need for stress management among various first responders in the region, he instituted a multidisciplinary team approach to respond to high-stress and traumatic situations faced by law enforcement, emergency medical services, firefighters, dispatchers and other emergency service professionals.
“Josh is a gifted leader and collaborator and has an intense passion for our mission,” said Mary Berger, NAMI Delaware board president. “He will be a tremendous asset to our organization as we work to grow our capacity to serve more Delawareans living with mental illness and their families.”
NAMI Delaware’s mission is to support, educate and advocate until there is a cure for severe and persistent mental illness. For 30 years, the organization has provided statewide educational programs and support services for those with mental illness and their loved ones, a statewide housing program for low-income individuals living with mental illness, and a telephone HelpLine, 888-427-2643 for anyone in need of mental health information or assistance.