All of programs described below further NAMI Far North’s mission to provide support and education, to advocate for a better quality of care, to elevate sensitivity and to decrease stigma surrounding mental illness.
Monthly education and support meetings. We meet on the third Wednesday of every month except December, providing an educational speaker and separate support groups for consumers and family members. These meetings are held in the classroom at Bonner General Hospital. Each two hour meeting begins with a brief update on affiliate activities that is then followed by an educational speaker. Our educational speakers are chosen to speak on topics of interest to persons with mental illness (consumers) and their families. The educational program is followed by separate family and consumer support groups. Our meetings are announced in the community calendar of the four local papers. We send out monthly email reminders, including the speaker and topic, to our members and others who sign in at our meetings. Educational brochures on mental illness are available at each meeting.
Membership Directory. At the request of our members, we have created a NAMI Far North membership directory that is updated quarterly so that members can contact each other between meetings. Permission is obtained before including a person in the directory.
Mental Health Service Providers Directory. NAMI Far North has compiled a directory of mental health providers in Bonner and Boundary counties, including the areas of interest and the types of payment accepted. There was no such directory in existence before we spearheaded this project. This directory was printed and originally distributed in October 2007 to all local mental health providers, our NAMI Far North members, school counselors, probation offices, clerks of the court, Idaho Region One Department of Health and Welfare - Children and Adult Mental Health divisions, members of the school board, our local state legislators and local primary care physicians. It is updated annually.
NAMI Far North Advocate. Our affiliate's monthly newsletter is distributed electronically and via U.S. Postal Service to over 220 local agencies and individuals. It is not published in December.
Helpline. NAMI Far North provides a telephone helpline to answer questions from consumers, families and professionals. We also have an email address and answer questions in that manner. Our helpline number is listed on the NAMI Far North and NAMI Idaho websites. Our helpline number is also given to local callers to the NAMI National Helpline and is listed on the NAMI National website, www.nami.org.
Idaho Careline. Idaho Careline – 211 – is a phone information and referral service for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which refers callers to a database of 3,000 programs and agencies in the state. This service may also be accessed on line at www.211idaho.org or www.idahocareline.org or by calling 1-800-926-2588. NAMI Far North is listed on this service.
Lending Library. NAMI Far North has a lending library of helpful books and DVDs on various mental illness topics for consumers and families available at each of our monthly meetings.
Family to Family Class. NAMI Far North is active in teaching the NAMI Family to Family education program. This free 12-week educational course provides information, insight, understanding and empowerment to family members of people who live with mental illness and help them cope better, worry less and more effectively advocate for better treatment and services for their loved one. We teach the free class twice each year, once in Sandpoint and once in Bonners Ferry. The course consists of weekly two and one half hour sessions, to any family members, partner or friend, or recovering consumer who has a relative suffering from a serious and persistent mental illness. The course is taught by two family members from our affiliate that have been trained by NAMI National trainers to present the class. Over the twelve weeks of the course, class participants collect class handouts in a notebook comprising over 450 pages of useful resource information which they keep to share with other family members and with the family member who is mentally ill. All course materials are furnished free by our affiliate. Two scientific studies on the effectiveness of this program showed that course participants had a significantly decreased subjective (emotional) burden of dealing with mental illness and an increased sense of empowerment regarding the system, the community and family. They felt more able to cope with the mental health system and felt an increased ability to cope with their ill family member. In both studies, the results indicated that post-program gains were sustained after six months. (These studies were conducted by Lisa Dixon, M.D., Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Director of Mental Health Services Research, Assoc. Director of Research, VA Capitol Health Care Network MIRECC.)
Mental Health Month (May)/Mental Illness Awareness Week (first full week in October). During these nationally recognized opportunities to focus attention on the prevalence of mental illness in our society, NAMI Far North sponsors public education events and activities spotlighting mental illness.
Education/Outreach. We have a PowerPoint presentation that we can utilize in our presentations to local community groups. We continue to make community presentations to raise the community's awareness of our affiliate and to discuss the mental health issues in the two northern counties of Idaho. Brochures on mental illness and information on our affiliate are available at these presentations.
CIT. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for law enforcement is a pre-booking jail diversion program designed to improve the outcomes of police interactions with people with mental illnesses. It includes a community collaboration between mental health providers, law enforcement and family and consumer advocates who together determine the community’s needs, agree on strategy for meeting those needs and organize 40 hours of training to equip law enforcement personnel to interact with individuals experiencing a psychiatric crisis. NAMI Far North has been instrumental in developing a CIT Coalition in the five northernmost counties of Idaho and sponsoring three annual CIT Academies that have trained a total of over 60 police officers, dispatchers, and other first responders to respond safely and quickly to people with serious mental illness in crisis, and to link them with appropriate treatment.
Website. We have developed a website that we hope will be an excellent educational tool for our affiliate and for those interested in mental health issues. It is www.nami.org/sites/namifarnorth.
In Our Own Voice. This program trains consumers to share with the community their stories of illness, treatment and recovery. It helps build consumers’ self-confidence and self-esteem, confronts the stigma that surrounds mental illness and generates hope among individuals who live with mental illness and their families and friends. Three members of NAMI Far North are trained IOOV presenters and are available to speak to any civic, faith-based or education-oriented group.
NAMI Connection. This support group model is not only designed for consumers, but is entirely organized, facilitated and conducted exclusively by individuals with mental illness. Four members of NAMI Far North have been trained as facilitators, and they are presently conducting NAMI Connection support meetings on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.
NAMI Basics: Beginning in April, 2011, this 15-hour class for parents and other full-time caregivers of children and adolescents under the age of 13 who have been diagnosed with or are exhibiting symptoms of mental illness will be available in Bonner and Boundary Counties, following the training of local teachers in March, 2011.