Tuesday, December 24, 2013

NAMI Looks Ahead to 35 Years in 2014

By Courtney Reyers, NAMI Director of Publishing

Next year marks NAMI’s 35th anniversary. Recent years have seen landmark changes in health care reform, something NAMI has steadfastly worked toward throughout its history.

In 2013, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid expansion—which are still underway— were important steps forward for individuals and families affected by mental illness. But there are many more areas of growth and success that can be noted as we step into 2014.

NAMI’s signature education program, NAMI Family-to-Family, was officially declared an evidence-based practice this year, putting a seal of approval on what tens of thousands of families already knew: F2F really helps in learning to understand and cope with mental illness. NAMI also offers other education and support programs; the newest ones are NAMI Ending the Silence and NAMI Homefront, both launched since Nov. 20.

Another area of tremendous growth has been NAMI On Campus. Onset of mental illness often occurs in a person’s teens or twenties. Early intervention requires education and awareness as well as communities with resources to provide support to young people in need.

Throughout 2013, NAMI also has been engaged in the National Dialogue on Mental Health that flowed from the Sandy Hook tragedy approximately a year ago. It has included fighting for a broad agenda of initiatives. It also has included efforts to eliminate stigma and building new partnerships.

One outlet that fosters a great sense of community and inspires hope is NAMI’s story-sharing hub, You Are Not Alone. NAMI members and friends tell us regularly that the personal stories they read submitted by others who have experienced mental illness have helped them immensely. (Please feel free to share your own story if you would like!).

NAMI also offers a national, toll-free HelpLine, 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264) which fields more than 2,000 calls and sends out more than 100 packets of information and brochures each month. It is a critical service, staffed by trained volunteers, for individuals and families seeking information about mental illness and the mental health care system.

NAMI works every day to save lives. From battling stigma to addressing cultural disparities to reaching out to youth and advocating with policymakers, NAMI is there, fighting for and alongside the millions of Americans who face mental illness in their daily lives.

For all the progress made in 2013, we know the fight will continue. We also know we depend on the support of NAMI members, friends and readers to sustain our work. Thank you for your continued help. We look forward to working with you throughout the New Year, as part of a community dedicated to hope and recovery.

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