Become a Leader in the Mental Health Movement | NAMI

Make a change in your local community by being an advocate for mental health awareness. Here are a few suggestions for how you can work with your community.

Talk with Community Leaders

Ask your governor or mayor to make a proclamation. Encourage your community leader to officially recognize the national mental health awareness events, including Mental Health Month in May, National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July and Mental Illness Awareness Week in October.

Take action on advocacy issues. Policy change is one major way we can make a difference in the lives of people living with mental health conditions and their families. NAMI’s legislative and public policy priority is ensuring people get the help they need, when they need it.

Ask them to “Go Green.” Get the greater community involved by asking leaders to light buildings and landmarks in green to show support and raise awareness for mental health.

Reach Out to Your Community

Address cultural barriers. Minorities face additional challenges when seeking care for mental health issues, such as: cultural stigma, lack of cultural competency and limited access to treatment in their community. It can help to reach out to these communities and start the conversation about mental health. NAMI has developed Sharing Hope and Compartiendo Esperanza to help facilitate the conversation in African American and Latino communities.

Speak with teens. Mental health conditions start early, yet half of teens aren’t getting the help they need. Stigma, fear and lack of awareness are part of the reason. NAMI Ending the Silence is an engaging presentation designed for middle and high school students that includes warning signs, facts and statistics and how to get help for themselves or a friend.

Involve Your Faith Community. Faith, and supportive faith communities, can play a large role in helping individuals with mental illness and their families. Talk about ways to improve resources in your community by making informative mental health bulletin inserts that you can share with the congregation or asking faith leaders to address mental health to their community.

Connect with Local Businesses

Hand out ribbons. Hand out or sell green ribbons for people to wear. Invite stores to hang green ribbons in the window, on trees, light posts, columns and in other public spaces.

Create a book display. Ask the local bookstore to feature books about mental health or have an author come in and sign copies.

Share information. Ask about adding mental health awareness brochures or fact sheets and infographics to your local coffee house’s events and information boards.

Host an event. Create a local event at a coffee shop, bookstore or restaurant featuring material about mental health or artists with connections to mental health.

Work with Local NAMI Affiliates

Volunteer. Volunteering at NAMI’s national office, or your local NAMI, shows how important mental health is to you. Whether you are giving your time because NAMI has helped you or someone you know in the past, or you are passionate about our cause — you can help make a difference.

Here are some of the ways you can get involved:

Let us know if you have questions about volunteering at NAMI’s national office. Contact your state or local affiliate to see about volunteer opportunities in your community.

DIY Fundraising. Contact your local NAMI affiliate about hosting a fundraising event in your community. Find more information on how to start a fundraiser here.

Participate in NAMIWalks. Walk with NAMI to spread awareness and raise funds for NAMI affiliates across the country. Learn more and find a 5K NAMIWalks event near you.

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).