Deana Ottum

Deana Ottum

2021 Community Building Award Recipient

There are many different ways that people are called into community building.  For Deana, it was the love and care of her son, who began experiencing mental health issues in middle school.  She took him to family classes (a life changing time, she noted), but he eventually aged out of a lot of the support systems in place at the time. 

Though the University of Washington has one of the best First Episodes programs in the country, they had no presence in the North Sound region, so she had to drive him to Seattle to get help.  Since then, Deana has worked to increase and improve mental health services for her son and others in our community.

Two years ago, she started the Whatcom Serious Mental Illness Coalition to advocate for the equal treatment of those struggling with mental health.  In conjunction with NAMI Whatcom, she has worked to bring together police, sheriffs, EMTs, Health Care Authority representatives, the health department and the Grace Project to find resources and create mental health safety in Whatcom County. 

She has facilitated the family to family program with NAMI Whatcom, and has been a resource for families who have children struggling with mental health. 

Through these efforts, she has created a network for families to have a safe and supportive group of people they can go to for help and self-care. 

This Community Building Award recognizes Deana for her time and efforts to provide much needed services to Whatcom County.

To watch the 24th Annual Ken Gass Community Building Awards in which Deana is recognized, click here.