Southfield (CW50) – Kevin Fischer, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, didn’t always have a career in the field of mental health advocacy. It wasn’t until the death of his son, Dominique, that made Fischer change his career and focus to help others who struggle with mental illness.

Community Connect Host Jackie Paige, with Kevin Fischer, Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness

He joins Jackie Paige on Community Connect to tell Dominique’s story and how it has changed his life.

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Dominique Fischer playing baseball (Courtesy of Kevin Fischer)

Dominique was a three-sport athlete throughout high school at Catholic Central and into college. When he was a sophomore in college, he exhibited signs of mental illness. Like any good parent, Fischer took him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia. After receiving treatment for his illness, Dominque felt like he was getting better resulting in him deciding to not take his medication or receive treatment anymore. In 2010, Fischer lost his son Dominque to suicide. Fischer describes his son as a people person. The kind of person who would do anything to help others.

“Dominique was literally the kind of kid who I actually saw take the coat off of his back to give to someone else, because they were cold.”

Fischer talked about how he now uses Dominique’s story to help others and advocate for mental wellness.

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“While [talking about Dominique] is difficult, Dominique would want me to help others through his experience.”

Kevin Fischer with his son Dominique on a field trip (Courtesy of Kevin Fischer)

Fischer joined NAMI as a volunteer to help understand mental illness and  manage the grief process. Now, after nearly 10 years with NAMI, Fischer leads the Michigan branch of the organization and has found his life’s passion helping others.

NAMI is the largest grass-roots organizations dedicated to impacting the lives of anyone dealing with mental illness. NAMI is present in many schools, helping teens get through the mental illnesses that are ever growing in our society. Their presence in schools is an important step toward breaking the stigma behind mental illness, as during the years when Dominique was in school, mental illness was not talked about as often.

“We need to recognize that mental illness is a medical diagnosis, not a personal weakness. We need to overcome the stigma.”

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