AUGUSTA, Maine — Carol Carothers, longtime executive director of the Maine chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has resigned after nearly 14 years with the Augusta-based nonprofit group.
Widely regarded as a champion for Maine’s mentally ill, Carothers resigned effective Jan. 4, according to a notice on NAMI Maine’s website.
“We were sorry to see her go and we are looking at an exciting period as the organization goes through a transition and brings on new management,” said Valerie Gamache, president of NAMI Maine’s board of directors.
Consultant Cathy Kidman began serving as interim executive director on Monday. The nonprofit has begun a national search for Carothers’ permanent replacement.
Carothers decided it was time to move on from NAMI Maine after her long tenure, according to Kidman, who said she spoke on Carothers’ behalf at her predecessor’s request. Carothers plans to return to private practice in the Waterville area as a mental health clinician with MaineGeneral Health’s HealthReach Network, Kidman said.
Carothers is a licensed clinical professional counselor and a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.
She was recognized in Maine for her work to steer individuals with mental illness and substance abuse problems away from the criminal justice system and into treatment. Carothers was instrumental in expanding in Maine a national program that trains law enforcement officers how to respond to people with mental illness who are in crisis. Designed for police, the program also was implemented in the Maine corrections system.
Carothers also expanded the range of mental health training available in the state, including suicide prevention education, and played a key role in the development of a 2003 state law that requires health insurers in the large group market to provide equal coverage for mental health treatment.
“We’re enormously grateful for the work that she’s done,” Kidman said.
NAMI Maine has 11 full-time staff members and more than 60 part-time workers, along with more than 100 volunteers.
“We wish Carol the very best,” Gamache said. “She’s been a longtime strong advocate and has served NAMI well.”