With the 3rd edition of Peer-to-Peer now on the ground and running, NAMI state organizations and local affiliates are expanding the program while spreading the word about NAMI through innovative community partnerships. Over the last few years NAMI Southern Arizona has worked with the Veterans Administration to offer Peer-to-Peer classes. “Offering the course at a veteran’s facility has led to further opportunities and collaborations with the VA,” states Clarke Romans, Executive Director of NAMI Southern Arizona. “We have been invited to health fairs at the facility and we are hoping that through these classes we will also reach veteran families.” Romans believes that Peer-to-Peer has forged a bridge between veterans and civilians, helping veterans see that they are not alone in their struggles and that these illnesses are indeed equal opportunity disorders.
Other valuable community partnerships are also being formed through the NAMI Peer-to-Peer program. In Polk County, FL, NAMI offers two Peer-to-Peer courses per year to mental health court clients. According to Cathy Hatch, the Executive Director of NAMI Polk County, bringing Peer-to-Peer to mental health courts “has raised awareness within the court system and shows that NAMI is an agency on par with other agencies they are working with. To be able to sit at the table with the sheriff’s department, judges, and other mental health centers is a really big deal to us.” Hatch is heavily involved in the mental health court of Polk County and regularly recruits clients with community service requirements to volunteer at NAMI, giving them exposure to its resources and supports.
Some additional Peer-to-Peer partners include local drop-in centers, club houses and wellness centers. In Baltimore, MD, NAMI works with the MartyLog Wellness and Recovery Center to offer Peer-to-Peer classes. In Frederick County, MD, NAMI partners with Way Station, Inc, a psychosocial rehabilitation program. NAMI Santa Cruz has established a relationship with the Mariposa Wellness Center.
Whether our partners offer full or partial program sponsorship, refer participants, or simply offer free meeting space, these connections are vital to the success of Peer-to-Peer and to NAMI as we extend our reach to a broader audience.
What partnerships have you developed in your community? We’d love to hear about them. To provide us with information about your own creative collaborations, please email email@example.com.