ARTICLES / General / Helping
the Mentally Ill/
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.