NAMI Public Policy Platform
Adopted by the Public Policy Committee of the Board of Directors and the NAMI Department of Public Policy and Research, June 2001. The following specifically addresses diverse communities.
Section 2: Priority and Special Populations
NAMI identifies as the priority population those persons of all ages who have severe and persistent mental illnesses, including: schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic and other severe anxiety disorders, autism and pervasive developmental disorders, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. These disorders represent the major mental disorders that current scientific data and consensus conclude are identifiable, disabling medical illnesses, with significant biological underpinnings, and requiring treatment; and other severe and persistent mental illnesses that affect the brain with seriously disabling consequences or a high risk of mortality; and that have a long term course.
NAMI believes that individuals with these brain disorders often require additional support to have their specific needs met and to ensure their access to integrated systems of care, education, and rehabilitation.
Section 2.3: Cultural Diversity
- Persons of cultural, racial, religious, and ethnic diversity and those for whom English is not the primary language have unique characteristics that sometimes impede their abilities to benefit fully from existing treatment, training, and rehabilitation programs. These differences must be respected and accorded appropriate representation, both within the governance of the services sector and within NAMI.
- NAMI supports expanded efforts toward recruitment and training of professionals from these groups, the development and distribution of materials in appropriate languages for use in education, encouragement of their participation in programs and services, and outreach efforts targeted to these grossly underserved groups.
- NAMI urges the incorporation of ethnic and cultural perspectives and competence into the design and implementation of programs and procedures for persons with brain disorders so that diagnostic evaluations, consumer and family communications, and the provision of treatment and services will be free from bias and cultural impediments.
- NAMI believes that providers must have training and sensitivity to cultural diversity.
- NAMI deplores the higher rates among minorities of involuntary commitment and incarceration in penal facilities that occurs among minorities with brain disorders versus non-minorities with similar diagnoses.