National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from NAMI Alaska

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  I am in a crisis. I am thinking about suicide. Where can I go for help?

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, family crisis, or having suicidal thoughts talking to someone may help. The National HopeLine Network has trained counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Don't wait. Call Now! 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

You can also call 911, (907) 563-3200 Emergency Services Crisis Line in Anchorage, your physician, or visit your local hospital's emergency room if you believe you are a danger to yourself or others.

2.  Where can I find a support group in my area?

NAMI offers education programs and support groups that can assist a person affected with mental illness through their recovery process. Click support group for your local information. Our Affiliates and the families involved with the support groups have been through similar experiences and know of resources in your area to help you cope with your or your family member's illness.

3.  Does NAMI offer Legal advice, or have a listing of lawyers?

NAMI Alaska State Office refers legal questions to the Disability Law Center of Alaska.  1-800-478-1234  or Anchorage 907-565-1002, Fairbanks 907-456-1070, Juneau 907-586-1627, and Bethel 907-543-3357.

NAMI National requires attorneys on our Lawyer Referral Panel to complete questionnaires regarding their specialties, fees, education and liability insurance. Communications to the center remain confidential, as does our attorney information. We do not verify qualifications or credentials of attorneys on our panel, and supplement our listings with the Disability Law Directory of the American Bar Association, the Directory of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association Directory and the Directory of Local Pro Bono Programs.

You may contact the NAMI Legal Center by email or by calling 703-524-7600. Please furnish your full name, address with zip code and telephone number to help us find legal aid in your area.

The American Bar Association has an online database of pro-bono attorneys. They also offer  guidelines for finding free legal assistance.

You may also wish to consult this  state by state listing of attorneys.

The United States Congress established the Legal Services Corporation to provide low-income Americans access to civil legal aid.

Legal Aid / local legal service agencies may assist those unable to pay for legal assistance (limitations often apply, such as no criminal cases). Check your local phone directory under "legal aid" for services.

4.  How do I file a complaint against a mental health care facility/professional?

Complaints about an individual physician/psychiatrist - If the physician/psychiatrist works for a hospital or agency, you may contact the doctor's supervisor. You can also file a complaint with the state medical board, or if he/she is a member the  American Psychiatric Association (APA) (some psychiatrists are members, some are not). The APA might also refer you to its APA District Branch or state psychiatric society.

Complaints about other MH Professionals - If employed by a hospital or agency, you may file complaints with the therapist's Supervisor, the Hospital Ombudsman, or Administrator. Therapists are regulated by their licensing boards (e.g. the state board of health and mental hygiene, counseling, or other licensing board). They may also be members of their professional associations (s/he may be a member of the
National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychological Association, etc.). The State NAMI may have the appropriate number and listing.

Abuse or neglect in an institutional setting:
Protection and Advocacy Agencies advocate on behalf of individuals with mental illness who are in institutional settings (such as a jail, correctional facility, or state psychiatric facility); allegations of abuse or neglect are one of their top priorities.

Complaints of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in the hospital setting: Report to the Hospital Ombudsman or Administrator.

JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) Complaint Hotline at (800) 994-6610 -- JCAHO accredits hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, laboratories, outpatient clinics, behavioral health care programs and managed care plans, among others. Complaints should be related to patient rights, care of patients, safety, infection control, medication use, and/or security (and not billing, insurance, or payment disputes.

Complaints about CMHC (community mental health centers): You may file a complaint with the state mental health agency. Medicaid and Medicare recipients with complaints about the CMHCs have the following options: Medicare beneficiaries may contact the
HCFA (Health Care Financing Administration) Regional Medicare Office and the state Peer Review Organization; Medicaid beneficiaries may contact the state Medicaid official and perhaps the state Medical Review Board.

 Local NAMI Affiliates
may be able to assist you as well.

Filing Lawsuits: You should seek a private attorney.
Click here for guidelines on how to find an attorney. State bar listings may be found at

5.  I need a doctor/mental health care facility that specializes in a specific disorder. Can NAMI help me?

NAMI does not provide a list of mental healthcare professionals or treatment facilities. However, NAMI does offer a Fact Sheet called Mental Health Professionals: Who they are and How to find one. You might also wish to contact your Local NAMI Affiliate for information as well.

6.  I am/or my friend/family member is newly diagnosed with a brain disorder. What do I do now?

NAMI offers an array of education and training programs and services for consumers, family members, providers and the general public. These programs draw on the experience of mental health consumers and family members who have learned to live well with their illnesses and are eager to help others, as well as the expertise of mental health professionals and educators.
Click here
 to learn more about NAMI Alaska's education programs.

You might also consider contacting your
 Local NAMI Affiliate for listings of support groups in your area. Local NAMI Affiliates can offer information about mental illness, coping strategies and local services that might be able to help you with a specific problem. Affiliates are comprised of individuals and families coping with severe mental illnesses. They have been through similar experiences and can also offer emotional support.

7.  Will this medication work better than the one I'm on? Is the combination of medications my doctor prescribed right? Is my dosage too high? Etc.

NAMI's work focuses on support, education, advocacy, and research. We are not a medical facility nor are we qualified to give medical advice about treatment or medication. Please contact your pharmacist, doctor or mental health care professional for guidance on the correct treatment of your specific situation.

8.  What are the side effects/recommended dosage of a specific medication?

Click here to view NAMI Fact Sheets about Medication & Treatments.

9.  I cannot afford my medication/doctor's fees. Where can I go for financial assistance?

Unfortunately NAMI cannot provide direct financial assistance. As a non-profit organization, NAMI's work focuses on support, education, advocacy, and research.

However, some pharmaceutical companies offer prescription assistance programs for low-income individuals and families. These programs typically require a doctor's consent and proof of financial status. They may also require that you have either no health insurance, or no prescription drug benefit through your health insurance.  Click here  to view the list of pharmaceutical companies and their contact information.

Your community mental health care center may offer medication and mental health care services on a sliding scale basis. Your Local NAMI Affiliate may be able to help you locate this center.

Also, you may wish to visit the Free & Low Cost Health Care Service Locator that the United States Department of Health & Human Services has available for a list of local services.

10.  I don't know how to cope with my friend/family member that has a mental illness. Can NAMI help me?

NAMI offers education programs and support groups that can assist a person affected with mental illness and their family members through their recovery process. Your local NAMI Affiliate can provide more information. NAMI affiliate groups are comprised of consumers and family members who may know of resources in your area to help you cope. Click here to find your local affiliate group.  Click here for on-line information on coping tips for spouses and adult children of people with mental illness.

11.  My friend/family member won't follow recommended treatment. What can I do to make them follow through?

In the United States, noncompliance is not a crime and therefore medication or therapy is not enforceable except in the case of minors, and those who are a danger to themselves or others.

NAMI offers education programs and support groups that can assist consumers and family members/friends that are affected by mental illness. By visiting the link below, you can find the NAMI group closest to you for more information. The contacts there and the families involved with the support groups have been through similar experiences and know of resources in your area to help you cope with your or your family member's illness.

In extreme cases where a consumer may be a danger to themselves or others, a friend or family member can petition the courts to have the person committed to assisted treatment.  Your Local NAMI will have more information particular to your state laws concerning these procedures. Or you may contact the Treatment Advocacy Center  for information and guidance through the process.

12.  Where can I find housing?

NAMI does not maintain listings of individual treatment facilities or other housing providers. NAMI State offices may be able to offer some suggestions. In addition, you may wish to contact the local office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). They can provide you with information on the Section 811 Program providing supportive housing for persons with disabilities.

Also, at our online
NAMI Store you will find a publication called A Housing Toolkit. It is information to help the public mental health community meet the housing needs of people with mental illnesses.

13.  Where can I go for resocialization purposes or for rehabilitation services?

The National Mental Health Information Center  of the Federal Center for Mental Health Services (CMH) has an online, searchable database of facilities and services in each state.

The International Center for Clubhouse Development has an online database of clubhouses. These are places where people who have had mental illness can go to rebuild their lives.

Your Local NAMI Affiliate may also have some suggestions.

14.  My friend or family member is in jail due to his/her mental illness. How can we help them?

The National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc and the Bazelon  Center for Mental Health Law are designed to deal with the rights of individuals who are dealing with the criminal justice system. They specifically address the needs of incarcerated individuals, whether they are in the correctional system, or hospitalized in a forensic ward.

Local NAMI Affiliate may also be able to offer suggestions and/or support.

Click here to view NAMI's Fact Sheet on the Criminal Justice System.

15.  Where can I find statistics about the prevalence of mental illness?

16.  Where can I find information about what my insurance/Medicaid/social security benefits will cover?

Questions about insurance coverage should be directed to your provider or to your State Insurance Department.

17.  My employer is not treating me fairly because I have a mental illness. What can I do to fight this?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment; state and local government activities; public accommodations; public transportation; telecommunications; and public services. It was signed into law by President George Bush on July 26, 1990. Click here for more information.

18.  What does the NAMI acronym stand for?

NAMI, The Nation's Voice on Mental Illness was founded in 1979 as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.   "NAMI" was officially made our corporate name in 1997, after a vote of the membership.  This was done after years of discussion that the full name was not person-first language and perpetuated the very stigma we hoped to erase.