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Helping the Mentally Ill

By Jude Roberts

(Page 1 of 2)

The National Alliance for Mental Ilness (NAMI) is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the United States, with self-help, support, and advocacy groups in every state, including Puerto Rico. Created in 1979, NAMI is completely dedicated to the elimination of all mental illness, as well as to the improvement of living standards for caregivers and persons affected by these diseases. NAMI offers important advice and help for those with some of the most difficult of disorders, such as: schizophrenia; schizoaffective disorder; bipolar disorder; major depressive disorder; obsessive-compulsive disorder; panic and other anxiety disorders; autism and pervasive developmental disorders; attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; and other severe, persistent mental illnesses affecting the brain.

With over 15 million Americans living with severe mental illness, NAMI’s work has only just begun, making sure that the local affiliates and state organizations help to identify and work on the most important mental health issues for their particular state or community. Through careful governing, compassion and cultivation from the experiences of family caregivers and those suffering from mental illness, a wide-range of educational and training programs have been created in order to service anyone who has a mental illness.


The NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program is a free, 12-week course for family caregivers of individuals with severe brain disorders (mental illnesses). The course is taught by trained family members. All instruction and course materials are free for class participants. The course discusses the clinical treatment of these illnesses and teaches the knowledge and skills that family members need in order to cope more effectively. Family-to-Family classes are offered in hundreds of communities across the country, in two Canadian provinces, Puerto Rico and Mexico.


Peer-to-Peer is a unique, educational program for people with serious mental illness interested in establishing and maintaining their wellness and recovery. Peer-to-Peer consists of nine, two-hour courses taught by a team of three trained “mentors” who are personally experienced at successfully living with mental illness. The mentors are educated in weekend-long training sessions, then they are given teaching manuals, along with a paid stipend for each course they teach.


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