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NAMI on Campus Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about NAMI on Campus clubs, including the startup process, the costs of starting a club, NAMI on Campus activities and programs, working with NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates, NAMI membership and dues and NAMI on Campus leader benefits.

NAMI on Campus Clubs

How is NAMI on Campus different than other student clubs?

There are several student mental health clubs that exist and may operate at the national, state or local levels. These clubs often have different strengths, focuses and purposes within the campus community. NAMI firmly believes there is a unique place and need for each of these clubs and that these clubs can exist together in a campus community. If other clubs exist on your campus, look into ways your NAMI on Campus club can complement their current efforts and effectively collaborate with them. NAMI on Campus differs from other student clubs in many ways. Here are a few of our unique strengths:

  • As a NAMI on Campus club, you will belong to the largest grassroots mental health organization in America. This helps to give your club credibility, recognition and support. Also, by joining the NAMI cause, your voice is counted and heard in the broader mental health movement.
  • NAMI on Campus leaders are provided with exclusive access to resources and opportunities just for them, including a comprehensive NAMI on Campus toolkit that includes everything they need to successfully run their club. They are also given chances to network with other NAMI on Campus leaders to exchange ideas, thoughts and advice.
  • NAMI on Campus clubs get direct support from NAMI staff who can provide technical assistance, tools to address challenges and various templates to create websites, develop resources and marketing materials and launch events.
  • Since NAMI has NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates in most communities, NAMI on Campus clubs also have access to local support groups, programs, services and helpful individuals.
  • Most importantly, NAMI is a lifelong organization that focuses on people of all ages. This means that there are many perks to being involved with NAMI on Campus that will extend beyond your college years. NAMI will be there for you, your family and your peers even after you graduate.

Why start a NAMI on Campus Club?

Mental health issues are more prevalent than ever on college campuses. Students have cited depression and anxiety as among the top barriers to academic success.

Many students living with mental health conditions do not get help. Concern of stigma is the number one reason why they don’t. Without treatment, students with mental health issues are more likely to receive lower GPAs, drop out of college or be unemployed.

Students have emphasized the critical need for student mental health clubs to reduce stigma and create a positive, supportive school environment. NAMI on Campus clubs help address these issues and truly make a difference in the lives of students. Learn more about the mental health issues impacting students and how NAMI on Campus clubs help.

Where are NAMI on Campus clubs?

NAMI on Campus is rapidly growing and expanding. NAMI on Campus clubs are all over the country in many community colleges and universities. New clubs are starting every day so there are many more in progress. By the end of 2013, we expect to have more than 150 NAMI on Campus clubs. To see if a NAMI on Campus club exists at your college, email namioncampus@nami.org.

What kind of activities do NAMI on Campus clubs do?

NAMI on Campus clubs do lots of different activities depending on the needs of their college campuses. Some focus on hosting campus-wide events that help to raise the volume on mental health issues and increase awareness. These events include movie night screenings, health fairs, concerts, creative campaigns, speaker presentations, candlelight vigils and performances. Clubs also often participate in NAMIWalks to raise awareness and fundraise. They may assemble walk teams or even bring a NAMIWalks event to campus.

NAMI on Campus clubs may also focus on providing support to students living with mental health conditions. They host de-stress activities, plan social events or partner with their NAMI State Organization and NAMI Affiliate to bring NAMI peer support groups and NAMI signature programs to campus with great success.

There are also quite a few clubs that focus more on career opportunities and provide educational events for students interested in the mental health field. Additionally, some NAMI on Campus clubs focus on specific populations, including student veterans and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

NAMI on Campus leaders are provided with a comprehensive Ideas Booklet that lists various activities NAMI on Campus clubs can do. They are also provided with information on how to bring NAMI support groups and NAMI signature programs to their campuses.

NAMI on Campus Startup Process

Who can start a NAMI on Campus club?

NAMI on campus clubs are student-led clubs. A student must lead the effort to start a club. However, NAMI State Organization and NAMI Affiliates and college administrators, faculty and staff all play important roles in supporting students starting NAMI on Campus clubs. We are happy to let them know how they can help promote, start and support NAMI on Campus clubs led by students.

How do I get started?

The first step is to complete the NAMI on Campus interest form. This will notify NAMI of your interest and will start the process. NAMI must be notified of your interest before you begin the process of creating a NAMI on Campus club. 

Once you fill out the interest form to let us know you want to start a club, you will receive the NAMI on Campus Startup Packet and access to a NAMI on Campus leaders only web section that includes valuable templates, resources and examples to help you complete the steps of starting a club.

What are the steps for starting a NAMI on Campus club?

There are three basic steps to starting a NAMI on Campus club. The NAMI on Campus Startup Packet includes more details and everything you need to complete these steps:

  1. Complete the NAMI on Campus interest form.
  2. Get recognized by your school.
  3. Get approved by NAMI. As part of the approval, you will need to connect with your NAMI State Organization and NAMI Affiliate.

NAMI is here to help you every step of the way to complete the startup process.

How long does the NAMI on Campus startup process take?

It depends. The part of the process that takes the longest for students is usually waiting to get recognized by their school as a student club. You will need to contact your school to understand their requirements for recognition and how long it takes. The NAMI on Campus Startup Packet includes a link to a list of questions you should ask your school to understand the recognition process and how long it will take.

Sometimes it also takes time for club leaders to recruit students and an advisor. See the tip sheet on how to recruit students and an advisor to start a club for help.

The NAMI on Campus Startup Packet includes everything you need to get approved by NAMI so this part of the startup process is relatively easy and quick.

What materials do I need to have together to get approved by NAMI? What about to get recognized by my school?

The NAMI on Campus Startup Packet includes everything you need to have together to get approved by NAMI as a club. These materials include a club bylaws/constitution, a membership list that includes officers, your advisor’s contact information, a completed informational sheet about your club, proof that your club is recognized by your school and a completed Connecting to NAMI Sheet as a record that you reached out and connected with your NAMI State Organization and NAMI Affiliate. The NAMI on Campus Startup Packet includes sample documents to help you create these materials.

The materials required to get recognized by your school varies from school to school so we cannot provide you with information about this process. However, see the list of questions you should ask your school to help you understand their recognition process and what materials you need to get recognized as a student club.

What if my school’s requirements are in conflict with NAMI’s requirements?

Let us know about any conflicts by emailing namioncampus@nami.org. We will usually respect your school's requirements and adapt our process for you.

Can I start the NAMI on Campus approval process before getting recognized by my school?

Yes. We understand the school recognition process can take some time so we are happy to start the approval process before you have proof of recognition.

How many students do I need to recruit to start a club?

You will need to recruit at least five members to become involved in your NAMI on Campus club. A membership list needs to be sent to NAMI. Your school may require additional students. It’s important you ask your school about their membership requirements.

See the tip sheet on how to recruit students to start a club.

Can these five students also be my club officers?

Yes. The NAMI on Campus Startup Packet includes a link to more information on how to choose club officers.

Do I need a staff advisor to start a club?

Yes. This is required by NAMI and usually required by schools too. The advisor can typically be any staff, faculty or administrator at your college. You will need to send contact information for your advisor to NAMI.

Check out the tip sheet on how to recruit an advisor to start a club.

The Costs of Starting a NAMI on Campus Club

How much funding will I need from my school to get started?

This completely depends on what kind of activities you want to do as a club. The NAMI on Campus startup process does not require any funding; only a time commitment and completion of paperwork.

However, you may decide you want to create promotional materials, banners, websites, etc. for your club that may have costs associated with them. You may also need to buy some basic supplies for your club. Check out the list of questions you should ask your school about funding and finances.

Do I need to become a NAMI member and pay dues?

The NAMI on Campus startup process requires the club leader to create a free online NAMI account at www.nami.org/register. This will enable you to have exclusive access to a NAMI on Campus leaders only web section and other NAMI benefits.

It is also highly recommended that you and all your club members each become NAMI members to receive additional lifetime perks at the local, state and national levels. As students, you qualify for NAMI's Open Door membership. This membership level allows you to pay only $3 each (membership is usually $35) to become a full NAMI member. This is a great deal that you and your club members should take advantage of. To become a member, you need to sign up through your NAMI State Organization and NAMI Affiliate.

NAMI on Campus Club Activities and Programs

What kind of activities do NAMI on Campus clubs do?

NAMI on Campus clubs do lots of different activities depending on the needs of their college campuses. Some focus on hosting campus-wide events that help to raise the volume on mental health issues and increase awareness. These events include movie night screenings, health fairs, concerts, creative campaigns, speaker presentations, candlelight vigils and performances. Clubs also often participate in NAMIWalks to raise awareness and fundraise. They may assemble walk teams or even bring a NAMIWalks event to campus.

NAMI on Campus clubs may also focus on providing support to students living with mental health conditions. They host de-stress activities, plan social events or partner with their NAMI State Organization and NAMI Affiliate to bring NAMI peer support groups and NAMI signature programs to campus with great success.

There are also quite a few clubs that focus more on career opportunities and provide educational events for students interested in the mental health field. Additionally, some NAMI on Campus clubs focus on specific populations, including student veterans and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

NAMI on Campus leaders are provided with a comprehensive Ideas Booklet that lists various activities NAMI on Campus clubs can do. They are also provided with information on how to bring NAMI support groups and NAMI signature programs to their campuses.

How do I bring a NAMI signature program to campus?

A great benefit of being part of NAMI on Campus is that you have access to existing NAMI signature programs that you can bring to your campus community and offer to your peers. Many NAMI on Campus clubs focus on bringing NAMI signature programs to their campuses with great success. These signature programs include In Our Own Voice, Peer-to-Peer and NAMI Connection.

It is highly encouraged that you work with your NAMI State Organization or NAMI Affiliate to bring any of the NAMI signature programs to your campus. You should also check to see if you can get formally trained in any of these programs by your NAMI State Organization or NAMI Affiliate. This will allow you to run the program yourself, expand your skill set and build your resume. See the web page on bringing NAMI support groups and NAMI Signature programs to your campus for more information.

How do I bring a peer support group to campus?

NAMI does not currently have a peer support group model specifically for college students. However, NAMI Connection can easily be adapted and used by you as a peer support group for college students.

Some NAMI on Campus clubs have chosen to develop and implement their own peer support groups on campus. Creating your own peer support group can be extremely difficult and can raise liability and training concerns. NAMI suggests using our existing signature programs before creating new programs or support groups.

See the web page on bringing NAMI support groups and NAMI Signature programs to your campus for more information.

How often does my club have to meet?

It’s up to you how you want to run your club. You can meet weekly, biweekly or just monthly. Your meetings can be dedicated to discussing club activities, bringing in guest speakers, offering training to club members or working on projects together. You can also host peer support groups or other NAMI signature programs in addition to regular club meetings.

Working with NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates

What are NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates?

NAMI is the national office located in Arlington, Va. NAMI provides NAMI on Campus clubs with technical assistance, resources and support and also approves new clubs.

Additionally, NAMI has NAMI State Organizations in every state and NAMI Affiliates in many local communities that help bring NAMI’s mission to the state and local levels while also identifying and working on issues most important to their communities. NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates offer information and referral services, interact with local professionals, run education programs and support groups, recruit new members, host mental health awareness events and activities and advocate at the local and state levels.

NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates can provide your club with access to local support groups, programs, services and helpful individuals. They are also required to provide endorsement signatures for clubs as part of the startup process.

How do I reach out and connect with my NAMI State Organization and NAMI Affiliate?

You can find their contact information here to contact them directly or you can email namioncampus@nami.org and we can help connect you with them.

What if I don’t hear back from my NAMI State Organization and/or NAMI Affiliate?

Email namioncampus@nami.org for assistance.

NAMI Membership and Dues

Do I need to become a NAMI member and pay dues?

The NAMI on Campus startup process requires the club leader to create a free online NAMI account at www.nami.org/register. This will enable you to have exclusive access to a NAMI on Campus leaders only web section and other NAMI benefits.

It is also highly recommended that you and all your club members each become NAMI members to receive additional lifetime perks at the local, state and national levels. As students, you qualify for NAMI's Open Door membership. This membership level allows you to pay only $3 each (membership is usually $35) to become a full NAMI member. This is a great deal that you and your club members should take advantage of. To become a member, you need to sign up through your NAMI State Organization and NAMI Affiliate.

NAMI on Campus Club Leader Benefits

Can I be connected with other NAMI on Campus club leaders in my state?

Yes. Email namioncampus@nami.org to be connected with other NAMI on Campus club leaders in your state.

Additionally, all NAMI on Campus leaders are given exclusive access to a NAMI on Campus leaders only discussion board and e-group where they can connect with other NAMI on Campus leaders. There are many other networking opportunities available so you can meet other student leaders across the country online and in person.

What resources do I receive as a NAMI on Campus club leader?

As a NAMI on Campus club, you will belong to the largest grassroots mental health organization in America. This helps to give your club credibility, recognition and support. By joining the NAMI cause as a NAMI on Campus club, you will ensure your voice is counted and heard in the broader mental health movement.  You will also have access to:

  • An exclusive NAMI on Campus leaders only web section that includes everything you need to start, run and sustain your club as well as other online perks.
  • Support from NAMI staff who can provide technical assistance, tools to address challenges you may experience and various templates to help you create a website, develop resources and marketing materials and launch events.
  • Networking opportunities with other NAMI on Campus leaders to exchange ideas, thoughts and advice. You will have access to a NAMI on Campus leaders only discussion board and e-group.
  • Exclusive resources and opportunities just for NAMI on Campus leaders. This includes information about career and training opportunities and opportunities to get involved in broader college mental health issues at the local, state and national levels.
  • NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates who can provide local support, resources, helpful individuals and NAMI support groups and NAMI signature programs you can bring to your campus.
  • Open Door membership to NAMI. This allows students to join NAMI at a reduced rate of $3 (normally membership dues is $35). As a NAMI member, students receive even more perks, including NAMI publications, discounts, and invitations and scholarships to NAMI events.
  • The many lifetime perks of being a NAMI member, which will extend beyond your college years. NAMI will be there for you, your family and your peers even after you graduate.

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