Francine Barr Mental Health Hero #MentalHealthMonth

Mental Health Hero for Mental Health Month 2013 cartoon by Chato Stewart

Francine Barr

2013 Mental Health Hero Cartoon-A-Thon

Drawing by Chato Stewart

Francine Barr 300Francine has been a mental health advocate and supporter for most of her life. Francine first became involved with NAMI when she was the Director of Friendship House, a psychosocial rehabilitation program located in Boone NC. She attended the annual NAMI NC Conference with members of the program and heard her first IOOV presentation. She was hooked. It took a year to get funding but in June 2004 the first IOOV Presenter Training was held and graduated 16 presenters, one of whom went on to become a state trainer.  More presenters were trained each subsequent year including two more state trainers. By 2009 when Francine stepped down as coordinator, High Country IOOV had delivered over 100 presentations to more than 1500 audience members.  Two high point of many: IOOV was included in annual CE-accredited nurses in-service training programs for nurses in Watauga, Ashe and Wilkes county and a presentation to 80 teachers at Watauga High School. A NAMI Display and IOOV presentations became part of the Annual Diversity Festival at ASU.  From that starting point, Francine worked with professors at ASU to launch a Suicide Prevention Campaign that included displays, a DVD screening, and a campus walk.  The professors continued to support the student interest in mental health and eventually a  NAMI-on-Campus chapter was formed.

After one of the High Country IOOV presenters was fatally shot by a deputy during a psychiatric crisis, Francine arranged to have certified CIT police officers speak at a monthly NAMI meeting.  Approximately 70 concerned family members, consumers, mental health professionals, public servants and concerned citizens attended. The Smoky Mountain LME responded to the public outcry and took over the CIT initiative;  several CIT trainings were held;  CIT-Trained officers are now in Avery and Watauga counties.

Mental Health Hero for Mental Health Month 2013 cartoon by Chato Stewart    
See Your Bonus Drawings by my children.
LP 14Sweet Pea 11 Precious 10 and Belly 7

When Francine learned of the Family to Family Program, she decided she had to become an F-to-F trainer. Her mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 60’s; she knew from personal experience how devastating that can be for a family and  how welcome a support  group would have been.  Her desire to understand mental illness led to her becoming a clinical psychologist in 1995.   Francine and another strong advocate for mental health, Karen Gross, led a Family-to Family course in Fall of 2007. Twenty two family members graduated, three of which went on to become family-to-family trainers.  The subsequent year, two of these trainers held a family-to-family training in Avery County.

Francine efforts were not limited to her involvement with NAMI.   She was very excited by the new recovery paradigm on mental health, and worked with the NC Mental Health Consumers Organization to bring the first Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) trainings to Watauga and Wilkes counties. Twenty six consumers attended.  WRAP later became a valuable part of the Recovery Education Centers (REC) established in both these counties by New River Behavioral Healthcare. Francine worked as a Recovery specialist at the Watauga REC for two years before her retirement in 2009.

Since her retirement from almost 20 years in the field of mental health, Francine continues to support NAMI.  Her “retirement profession” is jewelry artist.  Francine and other artist/crafter friends of NAMI have currently sponsored three arts and crafts fairs where a portion of sales are donated to help fund, not surprisingly, IOOV presentations.

 Mental Health Hero for Mental Health Month 2013 cartoon by Chato Stewart 460 Shannon Jacuzzi Mental Health Hero for Mental Health Month 2013 cartoon by Chato Stewart 460 Logan Noone Mental Health Hero for Mental Health Month 2013 cartoon by Chato Stewart thumbnail David Speicher Mental Health Hero for Mental Health Month 2013 cartoon by Chato Stewart460 Kathi Stringer Mental Health Hero for Mental Health Month 2013 cartoon by Chato Stewart460 Linda and Charlie Bloom Mental Health Hero 2013 Mental Health Month - cartoon by Chato Stewart 460 thumbnail KellyBabcock 460 Kristi Goldsberry small cartoon


Enzymedica the enzyme experts Sponsor Mental Health Humor Project - Cartoon-A-thon 2010 Mike Bundrant Sponsor Path to wellness Facebook BG - Mental Health Hero 2012 newsletter going lime copy copy CBHC sponsor2 5-6-2013 Blue ad Discover me Resized Mental Health Humor Project - Cartoon-A-thon 2010 is America’s only directory connecting people with affordable counseling. There are thousands of non-profit agencies within America that are available to help those with limited means. allows people to quickly search by ZIP code and find the best fit for their mental health needs.

Mentalympians is a mental health community development initiative to raise awareness of mental health recovery, inspire hope, reduce self-stigma, foster recovery and also connect individuals who are interested in campaigning for mental health reform.

I would like to thank Enzymedica’s Tom Bohager for his support. Enzymedica is Florida-based founded in 1998 to offer consumers targeted digestive enzymes products. Considered America’s #1 selling enzyme brand sold by health food store retailers. They also offer a FREE Digestive Enzyme interactive education program that is very helpful in learning the benefits enzymes have on our over all health.

Thanks to my wife Joan Winifred for her care, compassion and being my partner in wellness for the past 21 years.

Friend me on Facebook @chato B Stewart.
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Bonus My kids’ Drawings:

LP 14*


Sweet Pea 11 * Sweet Pea 11


Precious 10 *Precious 10


Belly 7*Belly 7



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