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NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, founded in 1979 as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, is an American non-profit national advocacy group for people affected by serious mental illnesses and their families. NAMI has advocated for the routine availability of evidence-based practices for the treatment of severe mental illness, such as assertive community treatment, which provides a full range of services to consumers around the clock in the community, rather than having mental health services limited to treatment centers.
NAMI's programs include:
- Family to Family, an educational program for the families of people with mental illness. Family to Family was developed by a clinical psychologist with a mentally ill sibling, and is taught by laypeople with mentally ill relatives.
- Peer to Peer, an educational program for mental health consumers and led by consumers.
- In Our Own Voice, a public anti-stigma campaign that affords mental health consumers the opportunity to speak to community groups.
NAMI claims to have over 200,0001 members, offices in all fifty states, and 1200 affiliates across the United States.
This allows NAMI the ability to support people with mental illness and their families thru educational projects such as Family-to Family and Peer-to-Peer, both projects taught by trained volunteer facilators. Both are offered at NAMI affilates and are free to the public.
NAMI is generally viewed as a grassroots organization, since it is run primarily by volunteers. However, NAMI regularly receives funding from the pharmaceutical industry, which also routinely dovetails its marketing messages with NAMI's in advocating for the destigmatization of mental illness. The industry trade group PhRMA, for instance, has collaborated with NAMI in promoting the movie A Beautiful Mind, "because the lines of communication were already established from previous initiatives," despite the fact that the real life hero of the story quit using all psychotropic drugs before his recovery from mental illness.
- Note 1: NAMI membership is primarily by family; more than 50,000 families or individuals are members; the 200,000-person membership estimate accounts for additional individuals in families.
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