Mental illness affects one in four adults in America. These rates are the same for African Americans though, unfortunately, the context may not be. As many studies have highlighted, limited mental illness educational opportunities and high levels of stigma prevent many members of this community from accessing mental health support.
NAMI’s Multicultural Action Center, which works to focus attention on system reform to ensure access to culturally competent services, education and support for all Americans, created Sharing Hope to help increase available knowledge and resources about mental health within African-American communities.
A feature of this community partnership-building initiative is an interactive educational presentation that aims to decrease mental health stigma in this community, increase awareness of mental health recovery and to introduce NAMI education and support programs.
“We’re perking up our ears, tuning up our hearts so that we can listen and help one another.”
-Debra Jacoway, presenter of Sharing Hope pilot in St. Paul, MN.
While Sharing Hope was originally developed to focus on building partnerships in faith communities, as of 2013 it has expanded focus to partner with all organizations with a predominantly African American membership or service population to share mental health education and support.
- A practical coordination guide for successful implementation, outreach and educational programming for African American communities
- Scripted 60-minute interactive presentation focusing primarily on experiences of the presentation team with personal connections to mental health issues and a discussion-based activity with the companion booklet, A Family Guide to Mental Health: What You Need to Know
- Checklists, practice sheets and other helpful materials included to assist the individuals working with this initiative.
Sharing Hope materials were designed in do-it-yourself style with modifiable tools and templates electronically disseminated in order to optimize accessibility and applicability to communities across the country. Unlike other NAMI education and support programs, Sharing Hope does not have a formal training component. The Sharing Hope materials provide a walk-through of all the major steps needed for successful implementation of the initiative in your community.
NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates are invited to implement this initiative. Get started by downloading the Materials Release Form (note: initiative materials may only be provided to those directly involved with a NAMI State Organizations or NAMI Affiliates).
NAMI video featuring African-American leaders' perspectives on mental health recovery and support.
- Click here to view a printable description of the initiative.
Sharing Hope has been adapted for the Latino community! Click here to learn more about Compartiendo Esperanza, a fully bilingual adaptation of this initiative.
Click here for a complete list of all NAMI sites who piloted or have taken part in grant implementation and evaluation of Sharing Hope.
Sharing Hope Grantees/ Pilot Program of 2012
Sites selected to receive grants this year were tasked to pilot and help develop a newly created coordination and networking portal via Microsoft SharePoint. All former grantees were also welcomed into this pilot group and a total of 11 sites have been given access to participate and test out the Sharing Hope Coordinators’ Portal to determine whether it will be more broadly used in the future. Of the participating sites, three were chosen to receive grant funding for the first time this year:
- NAMI Maryland
- NAMI Tallahassee (Fla.)
- NAMI Wake County (N.C.)
“We are alert and adapting to important new understandings of our community. We have an obligation to make our approach to the African-American faith communities one of grassroots empowerment.”
-NAMI Texas, 2011 Sharing Hope grant recipient
For the first time, Sharing Hope grants were made available to sites previously funded in interest of helping sustain successful efforts. On April 1, 2011 we welcomed nine new grantees considered ‘start-up sites’ and five ‘sustainability sites,’ returning grantees from previous funding years:
- NAMI Alabama*
- NAMI Augusta (Ga.)
- NAMI Austin
- NAMI Connecticut*
Highlighted states are locations of
2011-2012 Sharing Hope grant sites
- NAMI Lexington (Ky.)*
- NAMI Louisville (Ky.)
- NAMI Metropolitan Houston
- NAMI Hampton/Newport News (Va.)
- NAMI North Carolina
- NAMI Ruston (La.)*
- NAMI Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness
- NAMI Utah
- NAMI Washington, D.C.
* denotes sustainability grantees
In the news
Faith and Mental Illness in the African-American Community: Gina Duncan, M.D., a psychiatrist, shares her perspective on the relationship between mental illness and spirituality in the African American community for the American Psychiatric Association's Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives. blog.
2010 Implementation Grantees Selected
The 2010 grant sites were selected in March to work with the Multicultural Action Center to expand and continue to evaluate the Sharing Hope initiative:
• NAMI Central Virginia
• NAMI Connecticut
• NAMI Lexington (Ky.)
• NAMI Oklahoma
• NAMI Southeastern Arizona
We congratulate these sites and enjoyed working with them as well as all NAMI state organizations and affiliates working with the Sharing Hope initiative. All NAMI sites working with Sharing Hope are supported by the Multicultural Action Center and receive technical assistance upon request.
NAMI selected eight NAMI state organizations and affiliates to expand and evaluate its Sharing Hope: Understanding Mental Health. Each of the selected sites received a small Sharing Hope implementation grant to cover the costs associated with implementing and providing program evaluative data back to NAMI.
"One of the best things that we as Galileens have ever done was to bring Sharing Hope to the church. We have overcome slavery, impoverishment, trials and tribulations. Now it is time for us to come out of the dark ages in dealing with mental illness."
An article entitled, "New NAMI Toolkit Reaches Out to African american Congregations," by Sally Osmer, Executive Director of NAMI Mercer was featured in the Spring 2009 issue of the Advocate. Click here to read the article (note, you must sign in to your NAMI account to do so).
The Sharing Hope presentation was piloted in Atlanta at the True Light Baptist Church (NAMI Georgia), the Galilee Baptist Church in Trenton (NAMI Mercer, N.J.) and the United Church of God in Christ in St. Paul (NAMI Minnesota). Revisions to the toolkit and the presentation were made based on feedback from these pilot sites and evaluation results.
African-American Faith-Based Initiative Advisory Group Formed
A 15-person advisory group has formed consisting of pastors, NAMI leaders and other experts from around the country. The group first convened at the NAMI office on February 25, 2008 to go over plans for the project and offer feedback and recommendations. The Multicultural Action Center continued to work with the advisory group through the completion of the outreach and education toolkit program.
NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates and other individuals with experience working with African Americans in faith-based contexts also provided input to the Multicultural Action Center, identifying successful program models and key issues to consider during the development and implementation of this program.