South-West People: Deborah Saxhaug

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 NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) presented Inver Grove Heights resident Deborah Saxhaug with a Special Board Award at its annual conference, held in St. Paul on Nov. 3. The award recognizes an individual for their work to improve the lives of people living with mental illnesses and their families.

Saxhaug is the executive director of the MN Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH). She has a background in child, adolescent, and family therapy. Before working for MACMH, she was the director of a day treatment program for Human Resource Associates and worked as a psychotherapist in private practice. 

“For over 25 years she has dedicated herself to improving the lives of children with mental illnesses by providing support to families, empowering youth, educating professionals, and advocating for a better system,” said NAMI Minnesota’s executive director Sue Abderholden.

The MACMH conference is the largest mental health conference in the state educating both families and professionals. 

“Thanks to Deborah’s leadership we have Youth Move MN and she created the training for Certified Family Peer Specialists.  She has served for many years on the Children’s Subcommittee.  She was also one of the first to start addressing the issue of custody relinquishment. Deborah has also been a wonderful collaborator and partner with NAMI Minnesota. The children’s mental health system is better thanks to her,” Abderholden said.

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