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National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Mental Health, Mental Health Associations

Mission: 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.

Results: Let us show you all the great things we’ve done with your support here in Massachusetts during the year ended June 30, 2013! Check out this page of our website: http://www.namimass.org/donate/why-to-donate-to-nami-mass

Target demographics: educate and support people living with mental illness and their families

Direct beneficiaries per year: see this page of our website: http://www.namimass.org/donate/why-to-donate-to-nami-mass

Geographic areas served: Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Programs: NAMI Family-to-Family, NAMI Basics, NAMI In Our Own Voice, NAMI Family Support Groups and NAMI Connection Recovery Support Groups

Community Stories

14 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We have been with NAMI for over 20 years since our son's illness began in high school. The influx of new active enthusiastic NAMI members from the Family to Family courses is all you need to see, to realize the genius of the F2F program. It is top-notch concentrated education and a support group rolled into one and it's just what a new family needs when mental illness enters a family's life. The NAMI WALK is an annual celebration of the fact that recovery is possible, sometimes to an amazing degree. We have done the NAMI WALK every year since it began in Boston in 2004. NAMI has other great programs too, and they have helped our family learn and grow.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We at the Scattergood Foundation recognize that NAMI Massachusetts is a relentless advocacy organization that does great work in the community on behalf of those with mental health conditions and their families. NAMI Massachusetts also has a strong presence on Twitter and is tremendous example of how Web 2.0 can be used to raise awareness about mental health and challenge stereotypes about people with mental illness.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

NAMIMass gets A+ not only for their great work in Massachusetts, but they are one of the most reliable and trustworthy mental health voices on Twitter - regularly putting out more basic info/facts on mental illness than any other feeds - a great service to advocates worldwide. Thank you!

Chuck14

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

At NAMI Delaware we're newer at our Social Media campaign than is NAMI Massachusetts. We've learned a lot by following them.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I follow NAMI on twitter and they do a great job of disseminating information about mental health through social media. Their social media campaign also does a good job of destigmatizing mental health diagnoses.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with NAMI for about 7 years. I first got involved when I started attending the NAMI MetroWest Family Support group. I have a husband and a son who have mental health issues. I must admit I didn't like the idea of attending a group but once I started going I realized that I should have been attending years earlier! Being a part of NAMI helped me develop more coping skills and feel empowered. I realized that my experiences could help others navigate their path through diagnosis, finding providers, getting support and advocating for their loved ones.

While I was attending the Support Group I also took the Family to Family class. What a lifesaver. I learned so much from the materials that NAMI supplied and from the interaction between members of the group.

I was hooked on NAMI, not only because of the support and education, but the fact that all teachers and support group facilitators are volunteers. There are very few paid NAMI employees, and they are paid very little. I like organizations where the money goes towards the population being served and not to line the pockets of some CEO.

I now volunteer for NAMI in a number of roles as facilitator, teacher and board member.

NAMI supports a very under-served population. Those who are challenged by mental health issues and their families represent at least 25% of the population, but the support they receive is minimal. Families are forced to fight for basic services from insurance companies and providers. There is a shortage of mental health professionals and paraprofessionals because the pay is awful. Often those who are employed by states to work in Mental Health facilities are also having to apply for food stamps, rent assistance and earned income credit. Persons who do receive services do not receive any continuity of services because many mental health workers 'follow the money' in order to better provide for their families. Support for families receives almost no funding.

NAMI serves to fill some of the gaps in the provision of mental health services. We provide support to families of the mentally ill and those in recovery through our groups. We provide support to Veterans, faith-based groups and the LBTQ population. We are expanding our programs to include population groups from all over the world. Through our fundraising we give money to researchers, community service agencies and individuals who help the mentally ill and their families.

NAMI needs more support each year. Funding for Mental Health services is declining. The mentally ill are not getting the help they need. Without help they become homeless, victims of violence, addicted, poor and imprisoned. A person with mental illness can have their lifespan shortened by 25 years. Their caregivers live ten years less. Untreated mental illness is a very large social and financial burden to society. Intervention and treatment can save thousands of lives, terrible suffering and millions of dollars.

Please support NAMI. Time, money or both are received with many thanks

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

NAMI ( the National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org) never ceases to amaze me from my first contact with my Family to Family Teacher Bernice ( what an inspiration she was!) to my Family to Family Teacher's Training with Larry and Tina ( also amazing!). I am very impressed with how I always have felt at home with members of NAMI and that truly makes me realize that I am not alone.. I have found the Education Coordinator ( Karen) so understanding and extremely helpful by providing valuable resources to share and other very useful information..

I find myself wondering how anyone could let an opportunity to attend a FREE NAMI Family to Family Course pass them by that will help them better to understand their loved one living with mental illness and how to cope with other classmates and teachers with a lived experience? NAMI has made me a believer. I remember reading about Family to Family on the NAMI website ( that has such a wealth of information) and couldn't wait for the course to begin. I was not disappointed. I came away from my courses stronger, more educated and with all my printed class materials as a reference guide. We were encouraged to teach by our Family to Family Teachers.

I like the idea that I am part of NAMI team that shares the same goals and objectives who all embrace the mission of NAMI, on the same page. I also understand why it is important that we are members of NAMI as way of making a commitment to NAMI. I feel I owe NAMI so much for helping me and that I wanted to pay it forward. To be honest, I am terrified about teaching the course. My Family to Family Teachers had such a high level of expertise and yet I always felt that our class was relaxed that offered a shared experience that I will never forget. The teachers valued all of us and what we had to say, in both of my courses.

Our local community television is airing the Family to Family Tribute and Fighting Stigma. It is my opinion that educating the public with these kind of resources and hearing the stories of people who have experienced living with a family member living with mental illness will serve to help others to know that there is hope and that it is often just a click or phone call away, thanks to NAMI.

I also attend a weekly support group and I am forever grateful to the facilitator Bruce and the family members who attend( some of who will attend our upcoming F2F course in Sept) who have been there for the ups and downs. Special thanks to the intern E ( & Bruce) who also encouraged me to learn more with NAMI and go on to teach! I believe support groups help us to stay strong!


Sincerely,
Ella Smolenski

Review from Guidestar

1 Donna100

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I would be lost without NAMI. My young adult son has Bipolar 1 disorder with psychotic features. He was diagnosed at age 9 and was med compliant for 16 years. At age 25, he decided to try going off his meds. The results have been catastrophic. After 9 private hospitalizations over a three-year-period, my husband and I could no longer continue living with him. We requested a long-term stay in a state hospital. He has been in Tewksbury State Hospital in MA for almost a year--with many ups and downs. It is hard fighting a broken system and one that gives someone with mental illness the right to refuse meds when a court order runs out, because he feels he doesn't need them. Sadly, we sit and watch him get sicker and more delusional during those periods. It seems like I am always waiting for him to get worse, in order for him to get treated. The hospital has applied for guardianship, but other cases get higher priority because the courts don't view a psych emergency as an urgent matter. We all know this is wrong, but no one with any power has taken steps to change it. So we can be waiting months, or longer, if my son contests it. My support group meetings are what keeps me going. Sometimes I cry for my son and feel the situation seems hopeless. I am trying to turn something devastating into something positive by becoming more active in NAMI. I was asked if I would be interested in becoming trained as a co-facilitator and start up a new support group in my area. So that's my plan. Meanwhile, I will continue to hope and pray that maybe someday I will be one of the people who has a positive outcome with a son in recovery.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The 12 week course helped me learn about my son's mental illness. It was also nice to meet other people in the group who were going through similar situations. I am very thankful for the volunteers they did a great job.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

When my husband and I found NAMI on the internet, I was thrilled. We took the Family to Family class and gained insight into his illness. I was still devastated by the condition my son was in and scared about the future but I was calmer about addressing it. My son has schitzo-affective disorder and spent several years in a psychotic state. I retired from my teaching job to help with the recovery process. I was able to get information from the NAMI web-site and from my former teacher to help me through this. His cocktail was finally worked out and he slowly came back. It took a team to achieve this. NAMI, Peter, his family and his doctor were his team. Now I am very involved in NAMI helping other families become calmer. I see myself in them at every support group and at every new Family to Family class. I watch them learn about themselves, the illness and their loved one.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Words cannot describe the support that NAMI provides to those of us who struggle with mental illness in the family. The understanding, compassion, and knowledge comes as a breath of fresh air for those of us who have exhausted the limited resources available from the medical and psychiatric agencies. Nothing surpasses the experience, strength and hope from the people who live with and experience mental illness first hand on the front line.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Thanks to NAMI MASS, I learned about a program that helped my family member enormously. I was able to get support by attending the monthly Support Group. I learned a lot from the programs organized by my local affiliate. Other people kept talking about how the Family to Family Program was so wonderful. I thought I already knew a lot but I learned so much by taking the 12 week Family to Family course. It felt as though I was enriching my mind by learning about all the mental illnesses. Like a college course. It also made me feel empowered and more able to accept mental illness into my family. As a result, I became a Family to Family teacher and am helping others to be empowered.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

NAMI provides free information and access to a myriad of services for the mentally ill, a population that has been targeted in numerous budget cuts and healthcare revisions in recent years. Countless MA residents have been left without coverage and without proper warning & explanation; they are left without answers to the questions of why, when, where, who, and what??
NAMI provides guidance & answers re: coverage changes & policy revisions to Medicaid/Medicare, treatment options and assistance w/ location of proper facility (inpt, outpt, hosp, clinic, etc)... NAMI advocates for especially vulnerable populations, including the elderly, disabled, severely mentally ill, homeless, abused women & children, and pregnant women - NAMI volunteers (myself included) attempt to facilitate the processes necessary to obtain specific needs(healthcare, temporary housing, food & medication...).
We offer several support groups in all areas of MA on a weekly basis and provide both online and in-person guidance, support, referrals, and allegiance at all times. My work with NAMI is multi-faceted - I focus on Legislative Action and Advocacy that entails letters, phone calls, and outreach to members of our govt. re: votes, bills, and changes in policies pertaining to NAMI members; I focus on NAMI members individually and collectively, and I focus on my purpose as a NAMI volunteer... and member.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 09/2007 I found out about NAMI after my daughter (who lives with me) had her first psychotic break down while I was away on vacation with my youngest daughter. Getting this news over the phone was both shocking & painful. I knew my daughter had psychological issues, but never dreamed this would happen. LGH called me while in Missouri to inform me that she had been in 4-point restraint, then sent to Choate hospital. I came home a day after the phone call and she had already been admitted to Marlboro hospital for a 2-week stay. While there I met with a social worker & a psychiatrist 1x, where a discharge plan was reviewed. It included partial hospitalization rehab for 2 weeks, monthly psychiatric visits for medication, and weekly 1:1 counseling. After 2 weeks and only 1 week of being med compliant my dauhter was discharged. I had asked them to keep her longer to make sure she was firmly leveled on her meds but they refused. Church friends brought her home. During the first week home her unusal behavior began to scare me. I called the hospital one night because I felt threatened by her. I was told to call the police ONLY IF she still exhibited the behaviors. She did not. The next day I called the social worker and told her I did not understand her continuous bizarre behaviors. That's when she said "You need to call NAMI". From the moment I called, I was validated & supported for how I felt. I immediately joined the monthly support group in Bedford. 6 months into it (02/2008) I was able to do the 12-week F-2-F training (Woburn) Their I met other parents with adult children with the same problems I faced. It was both comforting & educational. I looked forward to each and every session. About 25 started and ended with 18 members who decided to keep the fires burning by getting together for dinner monthly. This continues today. By the summer of 06/2008, I could no longer endure what my eyes and mind experienced from this stranger (daughter) who I no longer recognized. So many silly & crazy ways had become her new personality that I had to finally ask her to leave. She refused. Through the guidance & direction of NAMI, my church, and the local police, she was escorted from my home. A very difficult time. That summer she lived with a church family who were social workers. Little change occured except that she got Transitional Emergency money & MA health. By 09/2008 the church family were moving. That meant my daughter was to leave. I was advised to let her find her way with peripheral support from church & NAMI parents. The police were setting the boundaries and NAMI & church friends provided the ongoing love & support. By 10/2008 my daughter knocked on my door, after sleeping in her car for 3 weeks and asked "what did you want me to do"? Since then, NAMI has been their for me & my daughter. I have learned so much through the education NAMI provided. It compelled me to give back. At first I thought I'd do advocacy work. Then in 03/2009 NAMI called & asked me to be involved as a F-2-F teacher. After the training in 04/2009, I have done (2) 12-week trainings (Lowell & Billerica) The last one completed in by 05/2010. NAMI has given me and my daughter her life back. She finally signed the SSDI paperwork (after 4 attempts) as she had been out of full time work since 07/2007. She isn't always med compliant, but she is respectful now. She has weekly counseling & sees a psychiatrist at least every 3 months faithfully. Recently, she became engaged:) Thank you, NAMI!