NAMI FaithNet: Mission and Guidelines
Mission and Vision:
NAMI FaithNet is an information resource initiative of NAMI members, friends, clergy, and congregations of all faith traditions who wish to create faith communities who are welcoming and supportive of persons and families living with mental illness.
NAMI FaithNet is an initiative of NAMI dedicated to providing and promoting the creation and exchange of information, tools and other resources which will help NAMI members and friends educate faith communities about mental illness and the vital role spirituality plays in recovery for many.
NAMI FaithNet is not a religious initiative but a mental health education and awareness initiative with NAMI members, clergy and congregations of all faith traditions. It is not a faith-based organization. Rather it partners with faith-based organizations (i.e., churches, temples, mosques and synagogues) providing resources to them as they engage with persons living with serious mental illness.
NAMI FaithNet respects all faith traditions and encourages NAMI members and affiliates to use an interfaith approach in all their community contacts. With such an interfaith focus, NAMI FaithNet will strive to include, develop and provide materials to be used in congregations of a wide variety of faith traditions, as well as materials directed to specific faith traditions (i.e., Christian, Jewish, Muslim and others).
NAMI FaithNet will be supported by staff at the National office and an Advisory Group of NAMI members from local affiliates who are experienced in educating faith communities about mental illness. The Advisory Group will convene with the staff periodically by teleconference and e-mail. An important function of the Advisory Group will be to assist NAMI in screening and reviewing materials submitted to NAMI FaithNet that would reflect perspectives counter to NAMI's holistic approach to recovery and interfaith dialogue. The Advisory Group will also encourage and promote collaboration with other organizations such as Pathways to Promise, Mental Health Ministries and others dedicated to nurturing interfaith efforts to address mental illness.
NAMI FaithNet's information resource initiative will not provide individuals with spiritual counsel or support. As local NAMI affiliates inform NAMI FaithNet of congregations, faith-based counseling services in their community or their own faith-based efforts, they will be included in the NAMI FaithNet online resources and e-newsletters.
Central Message & Content Focus:
NAMI FaithNet's central purpose is to provide NAMI members, friends, clergy and faith leaders with training materials, literature, links and resources on the following topics:
- Telling your own story as a means of education, awareness and advocacy in the local congregation (i.e., "What NAMI means to me and my family");
- The biological nature of mental illnesses, symptoms and treatment options;
- The impact of mental illness on individuals, families and communities;
- The value of spirituality in psychiatric treatment, rehabilitation, recovery and support;
- Guidelines and tips for NAMI affiliates and members who wish to start an educational initiative with faith communities;
- Guidelines and tips for congregations who wish to better welcome, include, nurture, assist and refer persons and families living with serious mental illness;
- Guidelines for starting small groups in faith communities that incorporate spirituality into the self-help, support and recovery model.
Resources and Tools:
Resources and tools will be created, gathered and proposed by the NAMI FaithNet Advisory Group and approved by NAMI. NAMI FaithNet mediums, tools and methodologies may include, but will not be restricted to:
A NAMI FaithNet brochure that summarizes NAMI FaithNet's core mission, message, principles, rationale and suggestions of what congregations can do to promote mental health awareness and education;
NAMI FaithNet pages on the NAMI website with downloadable resources, a short list of books, videos and other multi-media resources suitable for use in congregations and links to other websites, organizations and agencies with more extensive relevant information;
One or more short, core curriculum on topics listed in the Central Message & Content Focus section above. Curriculum could be designed for two audiences:
For busy faith leaders: a mini-course on mental illness, with basic, relevant information about ministry to and with persons living with serious mental illness; practical resources in a "user friendly" guide with a flexible single or multi-session format.
For adult education classes and small group leaders: a mini-course on mental illness that creates awareness, combats misunderstanding, and breaks down barriers to treatment and inclusion of persons living with mental illness.
Pamphlets, handouts, bulletin inserts, fact sheets and lists of relevant resources;
An e-mail newsletter containing announcements about events, conferences, relevant news and newly available educational materials;
A NAMI FaithNet e-mail address to which inquiries can be sent.
Long-range goals and projects:
- To improve access to the current NAMI FaithNet micro-site from the NAMI home page, to review and categorize resources currently available,and to add new resources and downloadable materials to the site;
- To plan and sponsor NAMI FaithNet national events;
- To develop "model ministry" materials for faith communities which would suggest unique approaches and methods needed to work with adults, teens and children living with serious mental illness;
- To promote awareness within NAMI affiliates, faith communities, the mental health provider community and the community of the availability of NAMI FaithNet's resources;
- To develop and pilot NAMI FaithNet presentation modules and a training initiative to equip NAMI leaders with the skills, materials and tools for successful faith outreach for starting small groups in faith communities that incorporate spirituality into the self-help support recovery model.