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National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Alliance on Mental Illness

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness (also known as NAMI) was founded in 1979 as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. NAMI is a nation-wide American advocacy group
Advocacy group
Advocacy groups use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems...

, representing families and people affected by mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

 as a non-profit grass roots organization and has affiliates in every American state and in thousands of local communities in the country. NAMI's mission is to provide support, education, advocacy, and research for people and their families living with mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

 through various public education and awareness activities.

Any family can find themselves dealing with a mentally ill family member. This was the reason for the start of NAMI. Needing support in dealing with their mentally ill family members, parents turned to each other for answers. The federal government started Community Support Programs (CSP) to deinstitutionalization the mental health program. During the Learning Community Conferences (LCCs) NAMI was encouraged to help with the CSP’s goals to educate and support in the rehabilitation process. NAMI member not only advocated for their own children but for others. Constance Walker served 22 years in the Navy and her son Mike joined the army but became mentally ill. Walker being a member of NAMI submitted a statement to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs United States Senate about veteran mental health accessibility

Programs


NAMI provides support to those affected by mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

 and their family members by providing public education and information activities peer education and support groups, raising awareness and fighting stigma
Social stigma
Social stigma is the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society.Almost all stigma is based on a person differing from social or cultural norms...

, and gaining state and federal
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 support.

Public education and Information

  • NAMI Educational Programs - like Family-to-Family and Peer-to-Peer provide education to help consumers and family members attain knowledge and skills for living with.
  • Support Groups - are provided through many of NAMI's state and local affiliates and offer connections with peers living with mental illness.

Awareness and Stigma

  • NAMIWalks - is an annual event where thousands walk together in over sixty communities across the nation to raise money and awareness about mental illness
    Mental illness
    A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

    .
  • StigmaBusters - responds to inaccurate and hurtful language and portrayals of mental illness
    Mental illness
    A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

     in the media as well as promotes understanding and respect for those who live with mental illness
    Mental illness
    A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

    .
  • In Our Own Voice - presents personal journeys of recovery by people living with mental illness
    Mental illness
    A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

    .
  • Clearly reducing stigma will make it easier for mentally disabled individuals to seek help without fear. Researching needs to be done on how to reduce stigma.

State and Federal Support

  • Advocacy - provides a key voice for state and federal
    Federal government of the United States
    The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

     public and private-sector policies that facilitate research, end discrimination, reduce barriers to successful life in the community and promote comprehensive and effective mental health
    Mental health
    Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and...

     services.
  • Action Centers - advocate for unique populations and develop and disseminate information to meet specific needs. Some include the Children & Adolescent Action Center, and the Multicultural Action Center.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT)

  • NAMI has advocated for the routine availability of evidence-based practices and promotes ACT. A program that assists severely mentally disabled individuals with treatment, rehabilitation and support services.
  • PACT: Program of Assertive Community Treatment on the other hand is a team of medical experts that are available 24 hours a day for medication and other needs of the mentally disabled individuals.

Structure


NAMI staff work on many issues involving serious mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

, including insurance parity, affordable housing, increases in research appropriations, improved work incentives and income assistance, and access to medications. While NAMI operates at the local, state, and national level, each level of the organizations provides quality education, information, support, and advocacy for those with mental illness and their support system. Local and state affiliates work in issues that are central to their community and state while the national office provides direction for the entire organization. Individual membership and the work of volunteers are what characterize the essence of this grassroots
Grassroots
A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures...

.

Local Affiliates


NAMI has more than 1,200 affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Canada. Associates begin as a small group providing support and sharing information. Individual membership is typically gained at the local level. In addition to providing support, affiliates also provide local information and referral services, conduct community education and work with local media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 to reduce stigma
Social stigma
Social stigma is the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society.Almost all stigma is based on a person differing from social or cultural norms...

, interact with local professionals, report on local issues and needs to state representatives, and provide support, encouragement, and participation to community members.

State Organizations


NAMI has state organizations in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. State organizations operate on a larger scale that local affiliates, deciding on goals and objectives within their respective states, encouraging outreach, education and membership for those with mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

 and their support system. Additionally, state organizations publish newsletters not only to educate members, professionals and the public but to foster networks. State organizations also monitor budgets of state agencies, advocate at the state level for mental health rights, and support affiliate growth and development by working with local affiliates.

National Level


The national office is led by a board of directors, and performs many roles. At the national level NAMI provides strategic direction to the entire organization, provides resources and support to NAMI's state and affiliate members, governs the NAMI corporation, and engages in advocacy
Advocacy
Advocacy is a political process by an individual or a large group which normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an...

, education and leadership development nationally. NAMI's advocacy efforts also extend to federal agencies and the White House.

Funding and US Senate Investigation of NAMI


The funding of NAMI by multiple pharmaceutical companies was exposed by the investigative magazine Mother Jones
Mother Jones (magazine)
Mother Jones is an American independent news organization, featuring investigative and breaking news reporting on politics, the environment, human rights, and culture. Mother Jones has been nominated for 23 National Magazine Awards and has won six times, including for General Excellence in 2001,...

 in 1999, including that an Eli Lilly & Company executive was then "on loan" to NAMI working out of NAMI headquarters.

NAMI receives more than half its budget from pharmaceutical companies, and because of this was accused of a conflict of interest
Conflict of interest
A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other....

 by a prominent NAMI member, E. Fuller Torrey
E. Fuller Torrey
Edwin Fuller Torrey, M.D. , is an American psychiatrist and schizophrenia researcher. He is Executive Director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center , a nonprofit organization with the goals of eliminating legal and clinical obstacles to the...

 (in 2008), and of failing to disclose that funding when promoting the medications sold by its funders.

NAMI came under scrutiny by U.S. Senator Charles E. Grassley in April 2009. Senator Grassley's investigation of NAMI confirmed that a majority of their funding was coming from the pharmaceutical companies.

In a story written by New York Times Journalist Gardiner Harris in 2009, NAMI received over 66 percent of their funding from Pharma. Gardiner, reporting off the findings of a Senate Investigation conducted by Senator Grassley (R) of Iowa.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/health/22nami.html (Harris, Gardinder. New York Times, October 21, 2009)

See also

  • EUFAMI
    EUFAMI
    EUFAMI, the European Federation of Families of People with Mental Illness, is an international non-profit organisation registered in Belgium that primarily advocates on behalf of carers. It was founded in 1992 after a meeting where members from all over Europe "shared their experiences of...

  • Biological psychiatry
    Biological psychiatry
    Biological psychiatry, or biopsychiatry is an approach to psychiatry that aims to understand mental disorder in terms of the biological function of the nervous system. It is interdisciplinary in its approach and draws on sciences such as neuroscience, psychopharmacology, biochemistry, genetics and...

  • Biopsychiatry controversy
    Biopsychiatry controversy
    The biopsychiatry controversy is a dispute over which viewpoint should predominate and form the scientific basis of psychiatric theory and practice. The debate is a criticism of a claimed strict biological view of psychiatric thinking. Its critics including disparate groups such as the...

  • Cole Resource Center
    Cole Resource Center
    The Jonathan O. Cole Mental Health Consumer Resource Center is a consumer to consumer mental health organization. It was named for Jonathan O. Cole, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and a senior consultant in psychopharmacology at McLean Hospital, and the founder of the...

  • E. Fuller Torrey
    E. Fuller Torrey
    Edwin Fuller Torrey, M.D. , is an American psychiatrist and schizophrenia researcher. He is Executive Director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute and founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center , a nonprofit organization with the goals of eliminating legal and clinical obstacles to the...

  • Involuntary treatment
    Involuntary treatment
    Involuntary treatment refers to medical treatment undertaken without a person's consent. In almost all circumstances, involuntary treatment refers to psychiatric treatment administered despite an individual's objections...

  • Laura's Law
    Laura's Law
    Laura's Law is a California state law that allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment. To qualify for the program, the person must have a serious mental illness plus a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior...

  • Outpatient commitment
    Outpatient commitment
    Outpatient commitment refers to mental health law that allows the compulsory, community-based treatment of individuals with mental illness.In the United States the term "assisted outpatient treatment" or "AOT" is often used and refers to a process whereby a judge orders a qualifying person with...

  • Psychiatric hospital
    Psychiatric hospital
    Psychiatric hospitals, also known as mental hospitals, are hospitals specializing in the treatment of serious mental disorders. Psychiatric hospitals vary widely in their size and grading. Some hospitals may specialise only in short-term or outpatient therapy for low-risk patients...

  • Psychiatric survivors movement
    Psychiatric survivors movement
    The psychiatric survivors movement is a diverse association of individuals who are either currently clients of mental health services , or who consider themselves survivors of interventions by psychiatry, or who identify themselves as ex-patients of mental health services...

  • Self-help groups for mental health
    Self-help groups for mental health
    Self-help groups for mental health are voluntary associations of people who share a common desire to overcome mental illness or otherwise increase their level of cognitive or emotional wellbeing. There are several international mental health self-help organizations including Emotions Anonymous, the...

  • Treatment Advocacy Center
    Treatment Advocacy Center
    The Treatment Advocacy Center is national U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating legal and other barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illness...


External links