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Conversations with NAMI NEPA

Who Knows NAMI?

It's 2 AM

Still can’t sleep… struggling with racing thoughts I just can’t control

or stop… again.

I don’t want to worry my family and I can’t talk to my friends about how I've been feeling, but I do need to talk to someone who will understand what I’m going through… someone who could help. I feel so alone right now.

What if this person knew NAMI? How might their life be different?

We want everyone to know NAMI!

Just like we all know who the Susan B. Komen organization is and what the American Cancer Society does, we should all know that NAMI is our community’s voice on mental health and NAMI provides support, education and advocacy for anyone who has been affected by mental illness. NAMI Northeast Region PA is embarking on the "I Know NAMI, Do You?" campaign to try to make sure everyone can someday say “Yes, I Know NAMI!” I would like to officially launch this campaign while also introducing our first Blog entry.

Let me tell you about NAMI: our vison, our mission and our values and our efforts in the NEPA community.

Our Vision--- NAMI envisions a world where all people affected by mental illness live healthy, fulfilling lives supported by a community that cares.

Our Mission-- NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.

And Our Values are Hope, Inclusion, Empowerment, Compassion and Empathy.

  • We believe in the possibility of recovery, wellness and the potential in all of us.

  • We embrace diverse backgrounds, cultures and perspectives.

  • We promote confidence, self-efficacy and service to our mission.

  • We practice respect, kindness and empathy.

  • And we fight for equity and justice.

I think a little background is also important to know who we are.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

NAMI started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 because

they wanted a better life for their loved one with mental illness and for themselves. It has blossomed into the nation's leading voice on mental health with more than 600 local Affiliates and 48 State Organizations who work in our communities to raise awareness and provide support and educate and advocate.

Now that you know what is important to NAMI, let me tell you why NAMI is important to you

1 in 5 of us will struggle with our mental health. Imagine someone you love, your child, your brother, your best friend, begins to act differently. They aren’t sleeping, they aren't taking care of themselves like they used to, they don’t seem comfortable joining the family for meals and stop going with places friends. Where do you turn for answers? After a diagnosis, where do you find support? How do you support him or her while taking care of yourself? NAMI has answers, NAMI provides support.

When You Find NAMI, You Find Help and You Find Hope.

So what does NAMI do?

NAMI Supports- right now our mental health support groups meet 4 (soon to be 8) times a month in our community- both online and in-person. These groups support those connections for individuals who, prior to this, may have felt very isolated in their experience.

NAMI Educates- and our education programs are FREE!

Family-to-Family is an 8 session course that helps family members of people with mental health conditions learn about the illnesses, how they impact the family and how to cope with this impact.

Peer-to-Peer class is an 8 session mental health, wellness, recovery program open to any adult with a mental health condition. Peer to Peer provides education, skills and support.

Both of those programs are scheduled to begin the end of May and

are open for registration now! Reach out to!

We offer In Our Own Voice, a program in which speakers share their personal stories of living with mental illness and achieving recovery so that our community can better understand their experience.

We are working very hard to create an Ending the Silence program and are currently seeking young adults who would be willing to share their experience with mental illness and recovery with other young persons.

We also offer Family and Friends, Mental Health First Aid and Youth Metal Health First Aid.

The list of evidence based programs we offer is always growing.

NAMI Advocates- we advocate for the individual who does not have a voice by helping them to get connected to the resources they need to help build a better life for themselves and we advocate on the legislative level- so that laws meant to protect and promote those needed resources are supported by our legislators.

An important part of our efforts go towards raising awareness- which encompasses all 3 of these efforts:

  • We raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental illness in hopes of early identification

  • We raise awareness of the resources that exist in our community so that people can get the help they need

  • We raise awareness that recovery really does exist

  • We raise awareness that if you are struggling right now you are not alone, you can find help, you can find hope- you can find NAMI.

People who have made connections through NAMI say things like: NAMI saved my marriage, NAMI improved my relationship with my daughter, my son and I can talk now, NAMI inspired me to believe that I can find recovery.

NAMI Brings People Together

It is our community partnerships that make much of what we do possible. NAMI participates in local suicide prevention efforts, we are on stakeholder groups and advisory boards. NAMI participates in Crisis Intervention Team training for law enforcement and other first responders-- so that they will have the tools to more safely and effectively respond to someone in a mental health crisis.

And we do all of this, and more, with a staff of 2 and an army of volunteers. Volunteers make the NAMI magic happen- volunteers who themselves have been impacted by mental illness, either their own or someone they care about, volunteers who have faced the challenges of living with a mental illness and work to share their recovery with others. Volunteers who may not have a direct experience with mental illness but they care about our community and have made a commitment to help make it healthier. Volunteers like these folks who spent an evening making bows with the message Find Help, Find Hope, Find NAMI on them. Bows they will hang throughout NEPA during the month of May, Mental Health Awareness Month, for people to see and know that they are not alone.

We do all of this for free. Thanks to the generosity of our county office that provides funding and our donors, we can offer all of this support and education at no cost in our community.

So what will NAMI mean to you?

One in 5 of us struggles with our mental health but 5 in 5 of us are impacted. It’s time to normalize it and recognize that mental health is as important as physical health… to an individual, to a family and to our community. When we all are healthy our community is healthy, our quality of life is better.

Reach out to us at to learn more about our support groups and our education programs. Reach out to learn more about how you can volunteer. We have a lot of projects and programs planned for May, Mental Health Awareness Month- we are asking our community to #GoGreen4NAMINEPA and #GoGreen4MentalHealth! If you are busy in May, we have a lot of opportunities throughout the year.

We will have NAMI information sites at our public libraries and free libraries, NAMI bows on our community trails and a Green Lantern Campaign for the National Day of Hope on May 22nd. We will need help hanging bows and distributing lanterns and maintaining information supplies in the libraries.

We are encouraging offices and organizations to Go Green by lighting up the outside of their buildings, or by having a green shirt day, or by making a pledge to be a more welcoming a supportive place. Can you do this? Can your office do this?

NAMI wants to have a strong community and social media presence so that people will know that, despite the difficult year we have all had--- they not alone.

All of this creates a lot of opportunities for you to volunteer, to be a part of making our community a more welcoming and supportive place for anyone who may be struggling with their own or their loved ones mental health.

NAMI is a grassroots membership organization, we rely on our members to strengthen our voice in our community, in our state and across the land. You can join NAMI by visiting

Please be sure to follow us on Instagram at and like us Facebook at to know the latest NAMI NEPA News!

So, after reading this, if someone says to you, I know NAMI, do you? We hope that you can say:

Very special thank you to Jeannine Luby for encouragement and guidance on creating this blog and improving other NAMI Northeast Region PA marketing efforts! She is helping us to help NEPA Know NAMI!

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