Education: The Face and Voice of Mental Illness
NAMI offers an array of peer education and training programs, initiatives and services for individuals, family members, health care providers and the general public. NAMI's education and support programs provide relevant information, valuable insight, and the opportunity to engage in support networks. These programs draw on the lived experience of individuals who have learned to live well with mental illness and have been extensively trained to help others, as well as the expertise of mental health professionals and educators. NAMI and volunteer grassroots leaders are committed to education as the pathway to recovery, empowerment and wellness. In addition to education programs and initiatives offered through NAMI National, many of NAMI's over 1,100 affiliates offer an array of support and education programs and activities for families and individuals. Many of NAMI's program offerings are also available in Spanish language and some are also provided by means of translations into other languages.
NAMI Basics is developed specifically for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents who are coping with a serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance. This free six-session course addresses the fundamental issues facing family caregivers as they seek help for their child. This rapidly expanding program is available in over 18 states.
NAMI Connection is a free recovery support group program for adults living with mental illness that is currently available in over 300 communities throughout the country. These groups provide a place that offers respect, understanding, encouragement, and hope and provide a casual and relaxed approach to sharing the challenges and successes of coping with mental illness. Each group meets for 90 minutes and is led by trained individuals who are in recovery themselves.
The NAMI National Convention is the annual gathering of nearly 3,000 mental health activists and advocates from all over the U.S. and several foreign countries including individuals with mental illness, family caregivers, public and private health and social policymakers, and health care and other professionals. Most convention attendees are responsible for securing or recommending mental health services, products, and information for themselves, loved ones, clients, and patients diagnosed with serious mental illnesses. Convention offerings provide attendees the latest information, treatment options, coping strategies, and support services. NAMI members are fierce advocates for people with mental illness, and convention attendees also gain insights which help with advocacy activities – especially in the areas of local, state, and federal legislation, housing, criminal justice, disability rights, parity, employment, and education -- to name a few.
NAMI Family-to-Family is a free 12-week course for families, partners and friends of individuals with serious mental illness, taught by 3,500 trained NAMI family members in 49 states. Since 1991, it has graduated over 175,000 people and has been translated into Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Mandarin and Vietnamese. By special agreement the course is also taught at selected VA hospitals and clinics.
NAMI Hearts & Minds is a multimedia program about healthy, accessible, and affordable lifestyle changes designed to reduce cardiac risk among people with mental illness that will be launching Summer 2009. Through this program, NAMI addresses the issue of integrating mental and physical health concerns for people living with mental illness. The program includes a 13-minute inspirational video and a 26-page booklet. The purpose of the program is to raise awareness and provide information on: diabetes, diet, exercise, and smoking. The online program also includes basic information on addictions, recovery, stigma, and treatment.
NAMI In Our Own Voice is a unique public education presentation given across the country by hundreds of trained NAMI consumers. Personal testimony, a video, and audience participation have made this a powerful learning experience for more than 150,000 people, from college students to clergy to human service workers.
The NAMI Leadership Institute is held twice a year and offers leadership and organizational development opportunities to assist NAMI state organizations and local affiliates to meet the NAMI mission. The Leadership Institute builds the capacity of our organization by enhancing the ability of our leaders, most of whom are volunteers, to manage, govern, teach and advocate. In 2009, the Institute will provide over 15 workshops for over 1,000 NAMI leaders. Workshops are organized in basic, intermediate and advanced levels.
NAMI Peer-to-Peer is a recovery education course for any person with a serious mental illness interested in achieving and maintaining wellness. Available in 26 states, this innovative program draws upon the experience of over 1200 NAMI consumers trained to conduct the course. One participant claimed: "Peer-to-Peer teaches in nine weeks what it took me 20 years to figure out for myself."
The NAMI Provider Education Program offers 30 hours of in-service training to staff at public mental health agencies, taught by a trained five-member team of family members and consumers. Now active in 22 states, the course emphasizes the lived experience of mental illness and prepares providers to practice a collaborative team model of care.
Parents and Teachers as Allies is a two-hour in-service program helps school professionals identify the early warning signs of early-onset mental illnesses in children and adolescents in schools. It focuses on the specific, age-related symptoms of mental illnesses in youth, how best to intervene, and shared the lived experiences of consumers and families. This program is presented through NAMI affiliates in selected communities.