Frequently Asked Questions
NAMI National Information Helpline
Click on a question below to link to the
answer further down the page.
I am in a crisis. I am thinking
about suicide. Where can I go for help?
If you are
experiencing an emotional crisis, family crisis, or
having suicidal thoughts talking to someone may help.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline has
trained counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days
a week. Don't wait. Call Now! 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
You can also call
911, your physician, or visit your local hospital's
emergency room if you believe you are a danger to
yourself or others.
Where can I find a support
group in my area?
NAMI offers education
programs and support groups that can assist a
person living with mental illness through the
recovery process. Support groups are often listed on
your State NAMI's webpage, or you can contact your local
affiliate for more information. Our Affiliates and the
families involved with the support groups have been
through similar experiences and know of resources in
your area to help you cope with your or your family
member's illness. Contact Your
Local NAMI state
office or affiliate for more information.
My friend/family member won't
follow recommended treatment. What can I do to make him
In the United States,
noncompliance is not a crime and therefore medication or
therapy is not enforceable except in the case of minors,
and those who are a danger to themselves or others.
NAMI offers education
programs and support groups that can assist consumers
and family members/friends that are living with mental
illness. By visiting the link below, you can find the
NAMI group closest to you for more information. The
contacts there and the families involved with the
support groups have been through similar experiences and
know of resources in your area to help you cope with
your or your family member's illness.
In extreme cases
where a consumer may be a danger to themselves or
others, a friend or family member can petition the
courts to have the person committed to assisted
Local NAMI will have
more information particular to your state laws
concerning these procedures. Or you may contact the
Advocacy Center for
information and guidance through the process. A
book that many family members and friends have found
helpful is "I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help"
by Xavier Amador, Ph.D., available at the NAMI
I don't know how to cope with
my friend/family member who has a mental illness.
Can NAMI help me?
NAMI offers education
programs and support groups that can assist persons
experiencing mental illness and their family
members through the recovery process. Your local NAMI
Affiliate can provide more information. NAMI affiliate
groups are comprised of consumers and family members who
may know of resources in your area to help you cope.
find your local affiliate group. Click
on-line information on coping tips for spouses and adult
children of people with mental illness.
I would like to receive a large
quantity of NAMI brochures. How can I get those?
As part of NAMI’s
mission to educate the public about mental illnesses,
NAMI offers a number of brochures and fact sheets on a
variety of topics, including particular mental
disorders, treatment approaches and commonly-prescribed
Large quantities of
brochures should be ordered through our
The NAMI National
Information Helpline may be able to provide some
brochures at no charge. In order to keep costs down and
to provide materials to the greatest number of people,
it is necessary to limit the number of publications we
provide free of charge.
For NAMI local
affiliates, professionals and non-profit
organizations, we are happy to provide free of charge
up to 3 brochures and 15 fact sheets.
For all other
members, we are happy to provide up to 3 brochures
and 5 fact sheets free of charge.
Fact sheets may
be reproduced in their entirety at no charge, as long
as the NAMI name, logo, and other identifying
information remain intact and they are not used for
visit the NAMI National Information Helpline.
I cannot afford my
medication/doctor's fees. Where can I go for financial
cannot provide direct financial assistance. As a
non-profit organization, NAMI's work focuses on support,
education, advocacy, and research.
pharmaceutical companies offer
assistance programs for
low-income individuals and families. These programs
typically require a doctor's consent and proof of
financial status. They may also require that you have
either no health insurance, or no prescription drug
benefit through your health insurance. Click
view the list of pharmaceutical companies and their
Your community mental
health care center may offer medication and mental
health care services on a sliding scale basis. Your
be able to help you locate this center.
Also, you may wish to
visit the Free
& Low Cost Health Care Service Locator
States Department of Health & Human Services
has available for a list
of local services.
Does NAMI offer any
scholarships for college?
does not provide or sponsor any academic fellowships or
As a non-profit
organization, NAMI's work focuses on support, education,
advocacy, and research. The following organizations may
be able to assist you further.
Resource Center at the George Washington University -
The Heath Center is a national clearinghouse for
information on post-secondary education for individuals
with disabilities. The Center publishes an
annually-updated paper on financial resources. The
latest version is Creating Options: 2006 Financial
Aid for Individuals with Disabilities, which would
include persons with serious mental illnesses. This
paper may be accessed online through their Web site or
by calling their toll-free number.
Heath Resource Center
2134 G Street,
Washington, DC 20052-0001
Consumers & Alliances United for Supported Education
- Primarily for residents of Massachusetts, this is
a program of the Mass. Department of Mental Health,
which can provide information on scholarship
opportunities for persons with serious mental illnesses.
Services include academic and career counseling,
assistance with finding financial aid, study skills,
stress control, tutoring/coaching, and assistance with
crisis while hospitalized.
Quincy Mental Health
460 Quincy Ave.
Quincy, MA 02169
Reintegration Scholarship-To assist persons with
schizophrenia, schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and
bipolar disorder, acquire educational and
vocational skills to reintegrate into society and secure
Lilly Award Secretariat
Schizophrenia Reintegration Scholarship
LaSalle St. #1167
Chicago, IL 60610
It is possible that
a state or local NAMI affiliate
may sponsor particular scholarships, but you would
need to contact them directly for further information.
There is also a web
site called FastWeb.
FastWeb lets students create a personalized profile that
can be matched against an expansive database of colleges
and scholarships. Visit www.fastweb.com
for more information.
Do you have information in
view NAMI's Spanish Information.
What are the side
effects/recommended dosage of a specific medication?
here to view
NAMI Fact Sheets about Medication & Treatments.
Will this medication work
better than the one I'm on? Is the combination of
medications my doctor prescribed right? Is my dosage
too high? Etc.
NAMI's work focuses on support, education, advocacy,
and research. We are not a medical facility nor are we
qualified to give medical advice about treatment or
medication. Please contact your pharmacist, doctor or
mental health care professional for guidance on the
correct treatment of your specific situation.
I am/ or my friend/family
member is newly diagnosed with a mental illness. What
do I do now?
NAMI offers an array of education and training
programs and services for consumers, family members,
providers and the general public. These programs draw on
the experience of mental health consumers and family
members who have learned to live well with their
illnesses and are eager to help others, as well as the
expertise of mental health professionals and
here to learn more about NAMI's education
You might also consider contacting your
Local NAMI Affiliate for listings
of support groups in your area. Local NAMI Affiliates
can offer information about mental illness, coping
strategies and local services that might be able to help
you with a specific problem. Affiliates are comprised of
individuals and families coping with severe mental
illnesses. They have been through similar experiences
and can also offer emotional support.
How do I file a complaint
against a mental health care facility/professional?
Complaints about an individual physician/psychiatrist
- If the physician/psychiatrist works for a hospital or
agency, you may contact the doctor's supervisor. You can
also file a complaint with the state medical board, or -
if he/she is a member - the American
Psychiatric Association (APA) (some psychiatrists
are members, some are not). The APA might also refer you
to its APA District Branch or state psychiatric
Complaints about other MH Professionals
- If employed by a hospital or agency, you may file
complaints with the therapist's Supervisor, the Hospital
Ombudsman, or Administrator. Therapists are regulated by
their licensing boards (e.g. the state board of health
and mental hygiene, counseling, or other licensing
board). They may also be members of their professional
associations (s/he may be a member of the National
Association of Social Workers, the American
Psychological Association, etc.). The State
NAMI may have the appropriate number and
Abuse or neglect in an institutional
and Advocacy Agencies advocate on behalf of
individuals with mental illness who are in institutional
settings (such as a jail, correctional facility, or
state psychiatric facility); allegations of abuse or
neglect are one of their top priorities.
of abuse, neglect, or mistreatment in the hospital
setting: Report to the Hospital Ombudsman or
(Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare
Organizations) Complaint Hotline at (800)
994-6610 -- JCAHO accredits hospitals, home health
agencies, nursing homes, laboratories, outpatient
clinics, behavioral health care programs and managed
care plans, among others. Complaints should be related
to patient rights, care of patients, safety, infection
control, medication use, and/or security (and not
billing, insurance, or payment disputes.
about a CMHC (community mental health center): You may
file a complaint with the state mental health agency.
Medicaid and Medicare recipients with complaints about
the CMHCs have the following options: Medicare
beneficiaries may contact the Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Regional
Medicare Office and the state Peer Review Organization;
Medicaid beneficiaries may contact the state Medicaid
official and perhaps the state Medical Review
and Local NAMI Affiliates may be able to assist you
Filing Lawsuits: You
should seek a private attorney. Click
here for guidelines on how to find an attorney.
State bar listings may be found at www.martindale.com.
I need a doctor/mental health
care facility that specializes in a specific disorder.
Can NAMI help me?
NAMI does not provide
a list of mental healthcare professionals or treatment
facilities. However, NAMI does offer a Fact Sheet called
Health Professionals: Who they are and How to find one.
You might also wish to
contact your Local
NAMI Affiliate for
information as well.
Where can I find a list of
group homes, residential facilities, or mental health
care units that offer specialized care in a specific
NAMI is not able to
maintain a list of residential facilities or group
homes; however, your State
or Local NAMI Affiliate may
be able to offer some suggestions.
You can also
visit the CMHS's
Mental Health Services Locator to
search a state by state database of mental health care
Where can I find housing?
NAMI does not
maintain listings of individual treatment facilities or
other housing providers. NAMI
State offices and Local Affiliates may
be able to offer some suggestions. In addition, you may
wish to contact the local office of the
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
They can provide you
with information on the Section 811 Program providing
supportive housing for persons living with
at our online NAMI
will find a publication called A
Housing Toolkit. It
is information to help the public mental health
community meet the housing needs of people with mental
Where can I go for
resocialization purposes or for rehabilitation
Mental Health Information Center of
the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) has an
online, searchable database of facilities and services
in each state.
Center for Clubhouse Development has
an online database of clubhouses. These are places where
people who have had mental illness can go to rebuild
or Local NAMI Affiliate may
also have some suggestions.
My friend or family member is
in jail due to his/her mental illness. How can we help?
Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, Inc and
Center for Mental Health Law are
designed to deal with the rights of individuals involved
with the criminal justice system. They specifically
address the needs of incarcerated individuals, whether
they are in the correctional system, or hospitalized in
a forensic ward.
State or Local NAMI Affiliate
may also be able to
offer suggestions and/or support.
view NAMI's Fact Sheet on the Criminal
Does NAMI offer legal advice,
or have a listing of lawyers?
Our Legal Center
receives daily calls from our members and the public
requesting legal assistance. As a result, we created a
lawyer referral panel as a service to those in need of
We require attorneys on our
Lawyer Referral Panel to complete questionnaires
regarding their specialties, fees, education and
liability insurance. Communications to the center remain
confidential, as does our attorney information. We do
not verify qualifications or credentials of attorneys on
our panel, and supplement our listings with the
Disability Law Directory of the American Bar
Association, the Directory of the American College of
Trust and Estate Counsel, the National Legal Aid and
Defender Association Directory and the Directory of
Local Pro Bono Programs.
You may contact the
Legal Center by email or
by calling 703-524-7600. Please furnish your full name,
address with zip code and telephone number to help us
find legal aid in your area.
State Offices & Local Affiliates
may keep lists of
attorneys familiar with mental illness issues, or they
may be willing to share informal, personal experiences
with local lawyers.
Bar Association has
database of pro-bono attorneys. They also
for finding free legal assistance
may also wish to consult this state
by state listing of attorneys.
United States Congress established the
Services Corporation to
provide low-income Americans access to civil legal
Aid / local legal service agencies may assist those
unable to pay for legal assistance (limitations often
apply, such as no criminal cases). Check your local
phone directory under "legal aid" for
insurance coverage should be directed to your provider
or to your State
What jobs or volunteer
opportunities does NAMI have available?
recruits qualified candidates for various staff
positions at our national office. If you wish to view
the positions available with NAMI click
you are interested in volunteer opportunities at the
national level email
our Human Resources Department.
contact your State
or local NAMI Affiliate for
information about volunteer opportunities outside of the
Washington DC area.
My employer is not treating me
fairly because I have a mental illness. What can I do
to fight this?
The Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against
people with disabilities in employment; state and local
government activities; public accommodations; public
transportation; telecommunications; and public services.
It was signed into law by President George Bush on July
26, 1990. Click
I recently moved. How do I go
about changing my address? How do I delete my name from
NAMI's mailing list?
Please send your
updated information (including full name and street
address) to firstname.lastname@example.org
or mail to:
- Member Services
Colonial Place Three
Blvd Suite 300
Arlington VA 22201
What does the NAMI acronym
NAMI was founded in 1979 as the National Alliance for
the Mentally Ill. "NAMI" was officially
made our corporate name in 1997, after a vote of the
membership. This was done after years of
discussion that the full name was not person-first
language and perpetuated the very stigma we hoped to
erase. In 2005 the meaning of the NAMI acronym was
changed to National Alliance on Mental Illness to
further reduce any stigmatizing language associated with
the NAMI name.
Update: January 2, 2007
Join NAMI today!
When you become a member of NAMI, you
become part of America's largest grassroots organization
dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with
serious mental illness. And now you can join