Ken Norton is a nationally recognized leader in mental health and suicide prevention. He has dedicated his career to helping improve the lives of others. Ken is a strong advocate for mental health and suicide prevention and a much sought-after subject matter expert.
As a graduate of the University of Maine, Orono, ME, Ken earned his BA in Philosophy and Sociology, with High Distinction, and a BSW Certificate in Social Welfare from the Council on Social Work Education. He attended the University of Connecticut, Northern New England program, where he received his MSW, December 1985. Certifications
include New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and the Academy of Certified Social Workers, (ACSW), Silver Springs, MD.
Ken’s work experience is extensive and includes leadership as Executive Director, 2011 – 2022 with NAMI NH, the New Hampshire National Alliance on Mental Illness, a statewide non-profit organization with $5+ million budget, 50+ employees and hundreds of volunteers, all dedicated to improving the lives of those impacted by mental illness and suicide. Among his duties were program implementation, public policy, and advocacy. Before assuming the role of Executive Director, Ken directed the NAMI NH Connect Suicide Prevention Program, (Connect) from (2003-2011) which focused on developing and implementing training in national best practices and protocols in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. Connect training has been offered to thousands of persons in 40+ states, 25+ tribal nations and 6 countries.
Ken is a member of the Steering Committee of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, providing expert guidance on issues that affect the network as well as recommendations and advice that support the Lifeline’s mission to enhance its capacity to serve persons throughout the US who could be suicidal. He was a strong advocate for the new three-digit 988 national suicide hotline number. Ken worked extensively with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and served as a member of the Military and Veteran subcommittee, Survivor of Suicide Loss Committee, and Sustainability Committees, examining and making recommendations for implementing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
From 2020-2022, Ken served on the New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community, and Transparency, a 14-member Commission appointed following the murder of George Floyd, to address issues related to law enforcement including: racial bias, transparency, misconduct, use of force, and community engagement. The Commission unanimously offered 48 recommendations which were all accepted by Governor Sununu.
From service on the Governor’s School Safety Task Force and Commission on Medicaid Managed Care, to the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee which oversaw and provided feedback on New Hampshire’s Crisis Standards of Care, and Chair of the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Subcommittee, Ken’s professional guidance helped to bring significant change resulting increased access to mental health services. Ken invests in his community through numerous volunteer involvements, such as having served as a licensed foster parent, membership on his local Tilton Town Conservation Commission, and Concord Hospital’s Medical Ethics Committee.
A frequent speaker and presenter, listed below are some of Ken’s recent presentations:
- NH Behavioral Health Summit: Guns, Violence, Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders-Is There a Connection? Manchester, NH December 2022
- New England Region Summit, Improving the Court, and Community Response to individuals with Mental Illness: Plenary Session/Panelist: Early Intervention, Deflection, and Diversion: From the Public Health Systems to Intercepts 0 (Community Services) and 1 (Law Enforcement). Burlington, VT. May 2022.
- NASW NH Conference: Ethical Issues in Medical Aid in Dying. Whitefield, NH. May 2022
- International Association of Suicide Prevention: Ethical Issues in Working with Individuals at Risk for Suicide. Derry, Northern Ireland: September 2019.
- Postvention Australia: 2019 Australian Postvention Conference: Plenary: Engaging Communities in Postvention Response, Workshop: The Role of Faith Leaders in Suicide Bereavement, Sydney, Australia, June 2019.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center, (SPRC) Building Suicide Prevention Infrastructure in Your State. Julie Ebin, SPRC: Ken Norton, NAMI NH; Nicole Gibson AFSP; October 30, 2019
- Engaging and Supporting Families in Suicide Prevention: What Work and Research are Showing SAMHSA/SPRC; Richard McKeon, Perry Hoffman, Ken Norton, Rajeev Ramchand and Alan E. Fruzzetti, March 5, 2018
- After A Suicide: The Zero Suicide Approach to Postvention in Healthcare and Behavioral Health Settings. SPRC, National Action Alliance on Suicide Prevention; Candace Landmark, Becky Stoll, Eliza Jacob-Dolan, Julie Goldstein, Ken Norton, December 8, 2016
Recent Publications include:
Responding to a suicide death: The Role of First Responders: Death Studies July 2017: pp. 1-9; Kenneth Norton LICSW. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2017.1335550 Social Work’s Ethical Responsibility to Train MSW Students to Work with Suicidal Clients: Joanna Almeida, Kimberly H. McManama O’Brien, Ken Norton; Social Work, Volume 62, Issue 2, 1 April 2017, Pages 181–183, Media Recommendations for Reporting on Mass Shootings: Member of a work group led by Dan Reidenberg from SAVE which researched and produced this document. www.reportingonmassshootings.org
Responding to Grief Trauma and Distress After a Suicide Death: US National Guidelines: Member of the National Action Alliance For Suicide Prevention Survivor of Suicide Loss Task Force which produced the document. Released April 2015.
Recent awards for his work include:
ROGER FOSSUM AWARD: New Hampshire Public Health Association. A lifetime achievement award, presented to a senior public health individual who has made significant contributions to public health throughout their career. April 2022 RICHARD AND BETSY GREER ADVOCACY AWARD: NAMI, “For outstanding work, leadership and vision which has advanced policy and advocacy efforts that impact individuals living with mental illness and their families.” July 2021 WHEELOCK-NARDI ADVOCACY AWARD The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. “For a lifetime of unwavering commitment and advocacy on behalf of people afflicted with mental illness.” October 28, 2018 SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Disability Accessibility Awards: For Embodying the Spirit of the American w/ Disabilities Act. Sept. 2017. BERNARD LOWN ALUMNI HUMANITARIAN AWARD: University of Maine Alumni Association. “For dedication to the affirmation of life, the creation of a benevolent peaceful society, and the perpetuation of a caring and nurturing society.” October 2015