Launching a NAMI Campus Affiliate:
Some Questions and Answers
Q: Why do we want to start a group? What do we want to accomplish?
A: There are many reasons why students might want to start an affiliate on their campus. Maybe they find the support services at their university inadequate. Perhaps they want to educate their peers about mental illness. Maybe they just want to join the fight against stigma while having fun doing it. Whatever the reason for starting a group, campus affiliates should be formed in order to:
- Help ourselves, students, and others through mutual support and advocacy
- Educate the student body about serious mental illness
- Pool resources and talents with others to improve services on campus for people with mental illness and their families
- To improve the overall mental health of the college community
- To end the seclusion students feel when there is no one to talk to who can appreciate the problems faced by people with depression and other mental illnesses.
Q: Are there enough people to form and sustain a group working toward our goals? What if student support services are already available on our campus?
A: Starting and maintaining a NAMI campus affiliate takes a commitment. The tasks your group will encounter might include setting up a constitution, recruiting members, finding a meeting area, calling group members, composing mass emails or a chapter website, thinking up fun activities or programs, and the list goes on. However, you will not have to do this alone. NAMI national and state offices are more than willing to help you along the way.
Keep in mind that organizations in which the founder tries to do everything are destined to fail. It is important to share the tasks and responsibilities of being an affiliate amongst members of the group.
There might very well already be existing support services on your college campus, for example a mental health clinic or counseling center. You should consider collaborating with these services, and promote one another and pool your resources together.
Q: Why NAMI???
A:There are many benefits to being affiliated with NAMI, including:
- Belonging to a well-known national movement gives you name recognition and, therefore, more support for advocacy efforts in your campus and community.
- As an affiliate leader, you will have access to the leadership benefits provided by both the state and national NAMI organization. These include coaching and guidance, educational program training and tools, leadership tool kits and development opportunities, information and marketing materials, website and print material support and templates, technical assistance in multicultural and affinity group outreach, and much more.
- Your members will receive the benefits of membership provided by both the state and national NAMI organization. These include funding for particular group activities, the Advocate magazine, your state newsletter, special members-only sections of the website, discounts on conferences and materials, and much more.
- You strengthen NAMI and its advocacy work on the federal and state levels. The more members and affiliates NAMI has, the more effective the organization is in its role as the state and nation’s voice on mental illness.
Q: Now how do we get the ball rolling?
A: Contact us at NAMIonCampus@nami.org. We will send you detailed documentation that simplifies your job.
In order to become an official NAMI Campus Affiliate, your group must be endorsed by their NAMI state organization, affiliated by NAMI National, and recognized by your school.
To be granted affiliate status by NAMI for your campus group, you will need a minimum of five organization members. Chances are that you already know several peers, whether they are consumers or other interested students, who would be interested in joining a NAMI campus chapter. Tell them about your ideas and invite them to come to an initial group meeting.
Also, it is essential to publicize your group and the time of your first meeting around your school. Consider posting notices and flyers in libraries, student centers, cafeterias, campus-circulated newspapers, and on bulletin boards. If you find that you need initial funds for your first meeting (for xeroxing, supplies, refreshments, etc), contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you on it.