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The National Alliance on Metal Illness – Florida (NAMI Florida) is headquartered in Tallahassee, and works with over thirty affiliate organizations and thousands of individual and business members throughout the state.  NAMI Florida is the state’s largest grass-roots advocacy organization representing those living with mental illness.  On a countywide level, NAMI Florida is affiliate with the National Alliance in Mental Illness (NAMI) headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.  NAMI was established in 1979 and NAMI Florida incorporated its operations in 1987.  NAMI is recognized in the national media and in the halls of Congress as the nation’s voice on mental illness.


The service receives thousands of calls each year from consumers themselves, family members, friends, and healthcare professionals.  The Information and Referral Line has become a godsend to many people who are unable to find assistance or get help with referral to care from any other source.  The program is also invaluable in its ability to confidentially listen and provide information on options for those calling.  It is not unusual to get calls from individuals working to avoid a crisis from parents in other states seeking help for their child in Florida. 

This is a free twelve-week course of family and friends of individuals with serious mental illnesses.  Taught by trained NAMI family members, the participants receive updated information about illnesses of the brain and treatment options, coping skills, and the power of advocacy.  Those who take the NAMI course are better equipped to work with their family member or friend and the mental health system in seeking and obtaining help. 

The NAMI Peer to Peer education course is a nine-week, two hours per week experimental education course on recovery for any person with a serious mental illness.  Like Family-to-Family, the course is a free course and taught by teams of three trained mentors or peer teachers who are themselves experienced at living with a mental illness.  Participants learn about serious mental illnesses, coping skills and empowerment and advocacy.   

NAMI – C.A.R.E.: 

This program, Consumers Advocacy Recovery through Empowerment, is a peer-based mutual support group program for individuals facing the challenges of recovering from any serious mental illness.  The support groups are led by consumers, the material is directed at consumers and employs guidelines and principals of support designed to empower its members.  The support group is geared to consumers with any diagnosis of any kind of mental illness. 


NAMI support groups are offered on an extensive basis throughout the state of Florida.  These are local group meetings in towns and cities and are confidential gatherings of caregivers who need a haven of understanding based on lived experience with mental illnesses among their family and friends. 


The NAMI In Our Own Voice (IOOV) program is a recovery education presentation given by trained consumers who present to other consumers, family members, friends, professionals and lay audiences.  People living with a mental illness are taught to present issues, challenges, treatment and coping strategies to their local communities, in local settings and in groups and the like.  The program enriches the audience’s understanding of how people with serious brain disorders cope with the reality of their illnesses while recovering and reclaiming productive lives.   


The NAMI Provider Educations Program applies specifically to the learning needs of staff members in healthcare organizations who work directly with individuals suffering from severe and persistent brain disorders.  The course is a ten-week course, three hours per week and is generally offered at a provider organization site.  The Provider Education Program presents a penetrating, subjective view of family and consumer experience with serious mental illnesses.  This course is proven to significantly assist providers in realizing the hardship that families and consumers endure and to identify best practices, means of treatment and recovery.  The course is taught by a team of five, which includes a clinician, two family members, and two consumers.  


NAMI is directly involved in full-time advocacy for the needs of those with a mental illness and their families.  Members and staff serve in various state and local appointed positions and participate extensively with state agencies that address mental health and substance abuse issues.  Members are trained on how to provide information to their local, state and federal elected officials and agency staff.  The NAMI advocacy mission also includes working with other statewide trade and member organizations to coordinate services and develop efficiency in the distribution of those services. 


As a part of its work in advocacy, NAMI provides communication and information through a number of resources.  Resources include the NAMI website, and, newsletters, brochures, public testimony, media response and appropriate visibility in many other settings.  NAMI is available as a resource to the media on issues concerning mental illness and its effect on communities, families, and individual lives.  

The state’s jails and prisons often become the default housing for individuals with a mental illness who have experienced a public mental health crisis that result in incarceration.  Statistics indicate that a majority of the people in jails and prisons who have a severe mental illness may be better served in another setting.  NAMI is encouraging and supporting training and programs to assist law enforcement throughout the state to identify and properly refer these individuals.  Law enforcement officers are often the first responders to come in contact with a crisis event, thus NAMI strongly supports the training and development of Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) throughout the state.  CIT is an education program that provides forty hours of specialized training for law enforcement officers, teaching them how to respond to calls concerning persons with a mental illness in crisis.  Law enforcement officers so trained are strong supporters of the program, as officers are exposed to basic dynamics of common types of mental illnesses and to the viewpoints and feelings of mental health consumers first hand.  They become skilled in de-escalating potentially volatile situations, gathering relevant information and evaluating the individual’s social support system and therefore are more appropriately placed for assistance. 

OTHER PROGRAMS: NAMI supports FACT Teams, Drop-In Centers, CSU’s, ICCD Clubhouses, Self-Directed Care, Compeer Programs and the like.