Awareness and Support: A Pathway to Recovery
NAMI's support and public education efforts are focused on educating America about mental illness, offering resources to those in need, and insisting that mental illness become a high national priority. Mental illness is a serious medical illness that affects one in four families. No one is to blame. Treatment works, but only half of people living with mental illness receive treatment. NAMI has engaged in a variety of activities to create awareness about mental illness and promote the promise of recovery.
Mental Illness Awareness Week. In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI's efforts to raise mental illness awareness. MIAW has become a tradition in NAMI. It presents an opportunity for all three levels of NAMI— national, state, and local—to work together in communities across the country in support of the NAMI mission. NAMI National offers materials and assistance to NAMI state organizations and affiliates planning activities during MIAW.
NAMI Booklets, Brochures, News Bulletins and Magazines. NAMI offers an array of booklets and brochures on specific mental illnesses and conditions, including many materials in Spanish language. Nearly 200,000 booklets and brochures are distributed each year through the NAMI store and the NAMI HelpLine. In addition, over 60 fact sheets are available to Web and phone visitors. NAMI produces and distributes over 30 e-newsletters each quarter on various specialty topics. In addition, NAMI produces and distributes three magazines throughout the year, including:
- The Advocate, NAMI's premiere publication. The Advocate speaks to all aspects of the experience of living with serious mental illness in America today: current news of treatments and research; developments in national and state policy and law; support for advocacy in all of these arenas; and news from the front, both the stories and art which people with serious mental illness have to share, from the discouraging to the fortunate, from the humorous to the difficult. The Advocate is a monthly publication, distributed in print three times annually as a member benefit and electronically nine times to subscribers via nami.org.
- NAMI Beginnings, the NAMI Child & Adolescent Action Center's quarterly magazine that publishes articles about child & adolescent mental health. The magazine is distributed to over 16,000 subscribers.
- NAMI ˇAvanzamos!, the NAMI Multicultural Action Center's quarterly magazine that publishes articles in Spanish language about issues relating to mental illness. The magazine is distributed to over 8,000 subscribers.
The NAMI National Information HelpLine exists to provide support, education, and empowerment to individuals, family members, and others coping with severe mental illness. Along with nami.org, the HelpLine is NAMI's front line contact with the public responding to over 50,000 incoming telephone, email, and postal requests annually. The HelpLine is a unique, nationwide service for those most in need of NAMI's resources. The HelpLine also serves as triage for the organization at all levels with referrals to other NAMI organizations and affiliates requested by 33 percent of customers. Additionally, approximately 12 percent of callers are bilingual and request support in Spanish language and educational materials that are culturally appropriate.
NAMI.ORG is NAMI's award-winning Web site, which already receives over 600,000 visitors each month. NAMI.org facilitates easier access to information and resources for individuals, families and the general public. In addition to general resources, NAMI.org supports services and communities focused on specialty topics, including:
- About Research is a section of the NAMI Web site that informs visitors of research projects that require the participation of individuals with mental illnesses and, occasionally, their family members. NAMI recognizes that research is crucial for improved understanding, treatment, prevention and the ultimate cure of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other conditions. NAMI also recognizes that participation in a research project may involve some risks to the volunteer. This section offers information on research, institutional review boards (IRBs), considerations for possible research participation and links to the latest research studies.
- NAMI FaithNet, a NAMI Web site network composed of members and friends of NAMI. This virtual resource and network is comprised of content from NAMI grassroots leaders for the purposes of facilitating the development within the faith community of a supportive environment for those with serious mental illness and their families and enhancing the efforts of those engaged in this important aspect of community life.
- NAMI Missing Persons Network offers NAMI Web site visitors resources and support for individuals and families with a missing loved one with mental illness.
- NAMI Veterans Resource Center offers NAMI Website visitors resources specific to veterans and active duty military members, as well as their families, friends, and advocates.
- NAMI About Mental Illness provides an extensive library of fact sheets, resources, and the latest information on all mental illnesses, treatment options, and recovery possibilities. This is the most frequented section of the Web site, visited by tens of thousands of people each month.
NAMIWalks is a national program implemented by local NAMI affiliates to raise awareness about mental illness and promote positive messages of recovery and hope. Since 2003, over 300,000 individuals have participated in NAMIWalks, currently in 80 cities. NAMIWalks has become the number one mental illness/mental health awareness and fundraising program in America having raised over $28 million to-date in support of NAMI's mission.
Schizophrenia: Public Attitudes, Personal Needs ~ Views from People Living with Schizophrenia, Caregivers, and the General Public. This survey initiative, released in June 2008, was designed to assess and report on American's knowledge of schizophrenia. NAMI commissioned the survey in order to raise a national dialogue. Twice as many people today live with schizophrenia than with HIV/AIDS, yet many Americans know little about the disease. In February 2008, NAMI commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a nationwide survey of 1,500 Americans, including 250 people living with schizophrenia and 250 caregivers of those living with schizophrenia. Results were presented in the publication: Schizophrenia: Public Attitudes, Personal Needs and reported to national media.
NAMI StigmaBusters is a network of over 20,000 dedicated advocates across the country and around the world who seek to fight inaccurate and hurtful representations of mental illness. Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmaBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes. They educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. StigmaBusters' goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect.
Unmasking Mental Illness Gala. Since 2004, NAMI has held an annual galain Washington, D.C. to celebrate its achievements and draw attention to mental illness and the promise of recovery. Guests include members of Congress, political leaders, and prominent researchers and scientists. NAMI presents its annual researcher award at this event. By bringing together opinion leaders from a variety of arenas to raise the profile of mental illness with a focus on forward progress through research, NAMI is able to educate the public, reduce stigma, and establish connections that assist our efforts to improve the quality of life for those impacted by this spectrum of diseases.