"Campaign for the Mind of America" Launched | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

“Campaign for the Mind of America” Launched

Posted on October 7, 2002

Arlington, VA - The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) today announced the launch of the "Campaign for the Mind of America," a multi-year effort on many fronts to promote investment in recovery-and to prevent the abandonment of yet another generation of Americans with mental illnesses to neglect and hopelessness.

Elements Of The Campaign Include:

  • Advertisements this week in USA Today promoting education about specific illnesses at www.nami.org and a new state-of-the art Website that will be on-line by the end of the year.
  • A grassroots "I Vote, I Count" education campaign consisting of candidate questionnaires and forums leading into Election Day 2002, followed by meetings with elected officials before the 2003 legislative sessions and extending into the 2004 election cycle.
  • Co-sponsorship of the National Forensic League's 2002-2003 Policy Debates involving 15,000 high school students from more than 1,000 schools nationwide, focused on the issue: Resolved that the federal government should substantially increase public health services for mental health care in the United States.
  • "Walks for the Mind of America" in 13 communities around the nation in May 2003 in Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina.
  • Expansion of NAMI's "In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness" antistigma education program in which people with mental illnesses speak directly to community groups about their experiences. The program already has grown from six states in 2001 to 25 by the end of 2002.
  • Expansion of NAMI's signature "Family to Family Education" program, which currently graduates approximately 10,000 family members of people with mental illnesses each year in 45 states. During the 12-week course, family members find mutual support, learn about the nature of different mental illnesses and important coping skills-and ultimately learn to be advocates in dealing with medical or government bureaucracies and seeking implementation of state-of-the art services in their communities.

"We have the knowledge and tools to help people recover from mental illnesses," said NAMI executive director Richard C. Birkel, Ph.D. "What we lack as a society is the will to use them. We are living in a scientific revolution that began in the 1970s, but a political revolution is needed as well."

"Many people with mental illnesses were deinstitutionalized in the 1970s, but the federal and state governments broke promises to provide community treatment and supports such as housing and employment opportunities."

"No one is immune. One out of five Americans will experience a mental illness, but no more than a third get the treatment they need. The cost to society of untreated mental illness is more than $100 billion a year. Lives are wasted or lost. The nation experiences 30,000 suicides each year-more than the number of homicides-with suicide also being the third leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults."

"We need to build a comprehensive, efficient system to screen, evaluate, diagnose and treat mental illnesses at every stage of life. We need a system that affirms principles of individual liberty and freedom-which are as old as the values in our nation's Declaration of Independence. We must act now to build a new revolution."

"Our lives and those of our children depend on it."

NAMI's announcement of the new campaign is timed to coincide with Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), October 6-12, 2002, and to precede release later this month of a preliminary report on the nation's treatment system by President Bush's "New Freedom" Commission on Mental Health.

As a first step toward reform, President Bush pledged in April 2002, while naming the commission, to work to enact legislation "this year" establishing parity for mental health benefits in health insurance plans. With Congress preparing to adjourn this week, however, leaders in the House of Representatives so far have ignored that promise.

Other NAMI Initiatives Announced Earlier This Year Also Will Play Important Roles In The Campaign For The Mind Of America:

  • Establishment of the NAMI Policy Research Institute (NPRI) for the development of innovative policy and advocacy strategies.
  • Establishment of the NAMI Multicultural and International Outreach (MIO) Center, which convened a Latino Leadership Symposium in June 2002 and launched a landmark Global Partnership Initiative (GPI) pairing four NAMI state organizations with similar advocacy groups on four continents.
  • Establishment of a Treatment/Recovery Information & Advocacy Database (TRIAD) project to begin tracking state and community investments in the public mental health system, along with evidence-based analysis of successes or failures.


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