December 06, 2022

By Alexa Zielinski

Two people talking to each other
“I shared my story for this book because when I needed it, it wasn’t there, and I want it to be there for others.”

Nearly every contributor to NAMI’s first book, “You Are Not Alone,” shared this sentiment with us at some point during the interview process. “You Are Not Alone” featured real stories from more than 125 individuals and families, leveraging the power of lived experience to create a compassionate, authoritative guidebook on navigating the world of mental health and mental illness. We heard from people at all different stages in their recovery journeys — and everyone had a unique perspective and story to share.

One Critical Topic Emerged in Our Interviews: Youth Mental Health

While working on “You Are Not Alone,” we ran into a tricky topic: How to best address the mental health and well-being of young people. With so many layers of complexity, it felt like an issue that deserved its own book.

In recent years, youth mental health has emerged as a topic of urgent importance. One in six U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year and 50% of lifetime mental illness begins by age 14. Hearing from young people about their experiences with mental illness — and the work they are doing to combat stigma — was profoundly compelling. We also heard from parents about the lessons they’d learned navigating mental health issues with their children. Ultimately, they wanted to share their wisdom with other parents and caregivers.

Now, NAMI’s Associate Medical Director, Dr. Christine Crawford, is writing a follow up to “You Are Not Alone” focusing on the mental health of children and adolescents. Primarily intended for caregivers of youth in all capacities (including parents and other family members, educators, clinicians and more) the book will set its readers up with a holistic and comprehensive understanding of child and adolescent mental health.

It will provide strategies for engaging with children and teens about their mental health, answer common practical questions about how to best provide support and, continuing in the NAMI tradition of lived experience expertise at the forefront, will feature the voices of real people who choose to share their stories.

You Can Get Involved in NAMI’s Next Book

We are still interviewing individuals and families with lived experience. If you are:

  • A parent or caretaker of children with mental health conditions, anywhere on their journey
  • A young adult who wants to talk about the onset of their mental health condition, or mental health stories from their childhood or adolescence
  • A clinician, practitioner and/or other member of the mental health workforce who focuses on children and teens
  • A peer or partner organization focused on children, teen and/or parent mental health

We want to hear from you! To learn more, email [email protected] with a brief overview of your interest in the project. Wherever you and your family are in your mental health journeys, your story is worth sharing.


Alexa Zielinski currently serves as a Senior Coordinator of Research, Support and Education at NAMI National. A key member of the team that brought you NAMI’s first book, Dr. Ken Duckworth’s “You Are Not Alone,” she now works closely with Dr. Christine Crawford and the rest of the NAMI Book Team in development of NAMI’s second book “You Are Not Alone” for Children and Families. She is passionate about writing, working with people, and building strong communities through storytelling.

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