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WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO?

Mission

The mission of NAMI Massachusetts is to improve the quality of life both for people with mental illnesses and for their families.

Vision

We seek to extend the education, support, and advocacy programs of NAMI Massachusetts so that we will reach out to all Massachusetts consumers and their families; improve the public’s awareness and understanding of mental illnesses; and advocate at all levels to ensure that all persons affected by mental illnesses receive, in a timely fashion, the services that they need and deserve.

Values

Central to NAMI Massachusetts is a commitment to programs that are both peer/consumer-driven and family-driven; to the key concepts of recovery, resiliency, and support that are essential to wellness and quality of life; and to full and meaningful lives for all persons. Our supporters include individuals, families, local foundations, corporations, churches and professionals. We also receive support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We are indebted to all of our supporters who demonstrate concern and support for our work on behalf of all people affected by mental illness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) is a nonprofit grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. Founded in 1982 and obtaining 501(c) (3) status in 1999, the state’s voice on mental illness, NAMI Mass, with 18 local affiliates and over 2,500 members is comprised of individuals with mental illness, family members and others in the mental health community.

The affiliates are located throughout the Commonwealth. NAMI Greater Boston CAN (Consumer Advocacy/Affiliate Network) is an independent advocacy affiliate that is instrumental in creating empowerment opportunities for individuals with mental illness in the Greater Boston area. NAMI Latino Metro Boston is a Spanish speaking affiliate.

Our free educational programs offer resources, insights, coping skills, and genuine support for families and those in recovery. Our volunteers who run our educational offerings strive to better equip the class participants with the knowledge and skills.

All of our programs are taught by peers; people who have lived the journey and can relate on a personal level to those seeking knowledge and comfort. These volunteers are trained by NAMI Mass according to the best practices instituted by NAMI National.

Even though one in four families experience some form of brain disorder, there are few educational sources that explain the treatment and recovery process. The lack of knowledge about brain disorders in the medical profession and the public is immense. Through peer courses, frequent electronic newsletters, NAMI web sites across the Commonwealth, and a close working relationship with many collaborative coalitions, we are able to educate our members and the public. Support for these activities comes from our donors. NAMI has been leading the way to fill the many gaps by acting as an educator and communicator of information.

NAMI Massachusetts Information Brochure (PDF)

We are the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts. Our membership is comprised of individuals living with mental illness, family members and other caregivers, friends, mental health professionals and others who care about people with mental illness across the Commonwealth.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI Medical Director speaks about NAMI (video)

If you or a loved one believes you have a mental illness or received a diagnosis of a mental illness and you need to find out more information: we can help.

If you want to know how to use the mental health services and benefits system to get help for yourself or your loved one: we can help.

Here’s how we can help:

  • Toll-free phone number (800-370-9085) to call for information on how to navigate the mental healthcare system – this helpline assists thousands of people access the services they need.
  • Education programs
  • Support groups
  • Individual, community, and state-level advocacy
  • Information helpline
  • User-friendly website www.namimass.org
  • Printed resource materials

NAMI Massachusetts strives to educate the public; to fight stigma, discrimination, and stereotypes; and to promote recovery.

Improving Lives through Education

Family-to-Family is a free 12-week course for families, partners, and friends of individuals with serious mental illness – taught by NAMI-trained family member volunteers – focusing on the emotional responses families have to the trauma of mental illness; many family members describe the experience in the program as life-changing.

NAMI Basics is a free six-week, peer-taught education program developed specifically for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents showing signs of behavioral or emotional problems.

In Our Own Voice is a free one-hour presentation that both offers insight into the hope and recovery possible for people living with mental illness and delivers a strong anti-stigma message. Trained individuals living with mental illness present a brief, yet comprehensive, powerful, and interactive program, accompanied by a video, about their own illness, recovery, and hopes. In Our Own Voice is appropriate for lay people, mental health professionals, police officers, teachers, students, and any other groups which want to learn about mental illness first-hand.

Improving Lives through Support

NAMI Family Support Groups are free meetings of caregivers of individuals with a mental illness in which family members can talk frankly about their challenges and help one another through their learned wisdom.

NAMI Connection is a free 90-minute recovery support group facilitated by a trained peer for people living with mental illness in which people learn from one another’s experiences, share coping strategies, and offer mutual encouragement and understanding.

Improving Lives through Advocacy

Our advocacy activities seek to ensure quality care and community-based services for individuals with mental illness. We advocate for better choices in employment, housing, education, medical treatment, access to medications, rehabilitation, and hospitalization services. NAMI Massachusetts is dedicated to raising awareness of the needs of individuals with mental illness in both the private and public mental health care sectors. NAMI Massachusetts is in the vanguard in advocating for adequate budgets for the Department of Mental Health and in promoting our legislative priorities to policymakers.

Click here to view the video about Getting involved with NAMI by Jay Gaylen

Join NAMI Massachusetts Today! Click here to join NAMI Massachusetts or by calling our office and speaking with membership. Membership is $35.00 or open door which is $3.00 for those with limited income.

Benefits of Membership:

  • become part of NAMI at the national, state, and local levels
  • receive NAMI Massachusetts newsletter, regular email-updates, and member discounts
  • join your voice with others on behalf of persons affected by mental illness and our voice becomes stronger

 

Please spend some time looking at the website to see the information we provide.

You are always welcome to call our toll-free helpline during business hours 9 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday at 1-800-370-9085.

If you would prefer to contact us by email, use info@namimass.org.

There is also a contact form you can find and complete here.

 

What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness refers to a group of disorders which cause severe and persistent disturbances in a person’s ability to think, feel and relate. Untreated, they can result in a greatly lowered ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life. Mental illness can affect individuals of any age – children, adolescents, adults, and elders. Mental illness can occur in any family. Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease. While we do not know the causes of these brain disorders, we do know that people can recover and live successful lives.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:
Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence. Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that One in four adults-approximately 57.7 million Americans-experience a mental health disorder in a given year

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers.

The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.

Mental illness usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable.

Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse , homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.

The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.

With appropriate effective medication and a wide range of services tailored to their needs, most people who live with serious mental illnesses can significantly reduce the impact of their illness and find a satisfying measure of achievement and independence. A key concept is to develop expertise in developing strategies to manage the illness process.

Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective, recovery is accelerated and the further harm related to the course of illness is minimized.

Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.

Mental Illness, specific disorder fact sheets:

Mental Illness: Facts and Numbers:

Medications, fact sheets:

National Institute of Mental Health links: The Numbers Count:Mental Disorders in America

Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention: