The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a grassroots organization that has spread across the United States in a response to a lack of education for families of those who have mental illness. It was seen regularly that clients with mental illness would be given coping skills, medication, and education on the disorders they struggle with, but the family would be seen as a secondary impact. Further the impact of the community for the individual and family also was not being fully addressed.

Since 1979, NAMI has been growing in it’s advocacy and education for communities around the United States, now with 500 local affiliates. The organization has numerous resources to share, but are best known for their educational groups for individuals and families called Family-To-Family and Peer-To-Peer.

The hard part about these groups is they are only done at certain times when their is a trainer available and enough people to warrant the class. Of course, this is also it’s strength as they connect people together for peer support and connect people to a face.

But NAMI realizes this is not always possible and so they created NAMI Basics. This is an online, on-demand set of courses to establish the basic foundations for caregivers who have mental health problems. These intentionally created it for people who are just starting to explore mental health resources and have not yet received a formal mental health diagnosis.

NAMI Basics explores six topics:

  • Basic elements of coping with mental health conditions
  • Brain biology and getting a diagnosis
  • Communication skills and crisis preparation
  • Treatment and connecting with others by sharing your story
  • Navigating the mental health and education systems
  • Self-care and advocacy

If I’m being honest, pastors and professionals alike should look through this as it is a valuable resource for themselves as well as for the communities they serve. Imagine someone right now struggling with what to do about their child who is depressed or has ADHD and defiant. Share this link with them after they sign up their child for an intake assessment at their local counseling agency and they can start the treatment process immediately, even at midnight in their own home.

After you check it out, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is the Co-Occurring Program Coordinator and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at a community mental health center. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Colorado and Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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