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Who We Are
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health. Today, we are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.
NAMI relies on gifts and contributions to support our important work.
Please donate now to NAMI Piedmont Tri-County all contributions are used for local activities in Lancaster, York and Chester county in South Carolina.
What We Do
We educate. Offered in thousands of communities across America through our NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates, our education programs ensure hundreds of thousands of families, individuals and educators get the support and information they need.
We advocate. NAMI shapes the national public policy landscape for people with mental illness and their families and provides grassroots volunteer leaders with the tools, resources and skills necessary to save mental health in all states.
We listen. Our toll-free NAMI HelpLine allows us to respond personally to hundreds of thousands of requests each year, providing free referral, information and support—a much-needed lifeline for many.
We lead. Public awareness events and activities, including Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), NAMIWalks and other efforts, successfully combat stigma and encourage understanding. NAMI works with reporters on a daily basis to make sure our country understands how important mental health is.
Identity and Mission
1.1) NAMI is a grassroots organization of individuals with mental illnesses, especially serious mental illnesses, their family members, and friends whose mission is to advocate for effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support, research and recovery that improves the quality of life of persons of all ages who are affected by mental illnesses.
1.2) The primary functions of NAMI are support, education, and advocacy for:
consumers and their families;
research and services;
education of all professionals, providers, and the general public;
An individual with a serious mental illness is sometimes referred to as a consumer. When speaking of NAMI members in general, we speak of family and that includes the consumer as a family member. We speak of consumer when it is necessary to make the distinction.
1.3) NAMI promotes the prevailing scientific judgment that "severe mental illnesses" are brain disorders, which, at the present time, are neither preventable nor curable, but are treatable, manageable and recoverable with combinations of medication, supportive counseling, and community support services, including appropriate education and vocational training. The causes of serious mental illnesses are complex, and they are not understood thoroughly. There is a genetic component to some serious mental illnesses. Although stress or drug and alcohol abuse can precipitate or aggravate episodes of an illness, they are not primary causes.
1.4) NAMI's roots grew from the needs of people for knowledge, understanding, sharing of grief, relief from guilt and stigma, mutual support, and mutual love. Increases in NAMI’s membership are likely to be concentrated in families, consumers and others who have these same concerns. Family means consumers and their parents, siblings, adult children, spouses, civil partners and domestic partners, and other involved relatives.
1.5) While primary peer support is concentrated in local affiliates, all components of NAMI declare:
(1.5.1) Together we can give each other strong support;
(1.5.2) The illness is treatable;
(1.5.3) It's not anyone's fault;
(1.5.4) You don't need to explain anything–we already know;
(1.5.5) You can survive as an intact family
NAMI advocates for research and services in response to major illnesses that affect the brain, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic and other severe anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism and pervasive developmental disorders, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
(1.5.6) With dedication and unity, we have enormous strength through which we can accomplish constructive change.
1.6) Persons with mental illnesses share many similar problems with persons with other disorders and disabilities. To achieve our own goals, NAMI supports to the fullest extent possible solidarity with those persons with disorders and disabilities to effect positive changes in societal attitudes, government, education, and public and private institutional responsiveness. NAMI will advocate for the rights of persons with serious mental illnesses, even when our views conflict with the views of other disability groups. NAMI places the highest priority on medical treatment, services, education, rehabilitation and recovery for persons with serious mental illnesses, as well as research aimed toward the ultimate prevention and cure of these disorders.