National Alliance on Mental Illness

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NAMI Greater Houston was established in 1988 by a group of parents whose adult children were living with mental illness. NAMI Greater Houston (NGH) works to keep family safety nets in place, to promote recovery and to reduce the burden on an overwhelmed mental health care delivery system. NGH works to preserve and strengthen family relationships challenged by severe and persistent mental illness. Through peer-directed education classes, support group offerings and community outreach programs, NAMI Greater Houston's programs and services draw on the experiences of mental health consumers and their family members. They have learned to manage mental illness successfully and have been trained by the organization to help others do the same. In addition, NAMI Greater Houston works to eliminate pervasive stigma, to effect positive changes in the mental health system and to increase public and professional understanding about mental illness.

The organization is governed by fifteen board members, all of whom have lived through mental illness-related experiences. They provide the oversight that enables NAMI Greater Houston to fulfill its mission. In addition, a 10-member Advisory Board works closely with the Board of Directors in providing valuable perspectives and recommendations with regard to program development, fundraising, community outreach, and financial management. Each year since the organization’s inception, 100% of its Board of Directors has financially invested in the organization’s mission and work. The organization’s entire budget is based on donations from diverse private philanthropists. This enables programs and services to be provided at no cost to participants.

NAMI Greater Houston is part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) founded in 1979 as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. NAMI is a nation-wide American advocacy group, representing families and people affected by mental illness. NAMI has its national headquarters in Arlington, VA has affiliates in every American state and in thousands of local communities in the country. NAMI's mission is to provide support, psychoeducation, [1] and research for people and their families living with mental illness through various public education and awareness activities.[2]

Of the 2.9 million adults in Harris County (2010 Census), 496,358 have a mental illness. Of those, 137,219 have serious mental illness such as (Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or Schizophrenia). • Of those with severe mental illness, 86,000 have no public (Medicaid or Medicare) or private health insurance and are totally dependent on the public mental health service system for treatment. • In 2012, approximately 69,800 adults with severe mental illness were unable to access treatment from the public or private mental health systems. • Of the Harris County citizens in jail, 24.1 percent have a current or past mental illness diagnosis. • An estimated 15 percent of individuals with severe mental illness will become homeless at some point within the year. • In the 2012 Point-in-Time Count of homeless persons in Harris County, 66 percent reported prior psychiatric hospitalization, needing mental health treatment, or having to leave their homes due to mental illness issues. • In Harris County, 38,421 or 28 percent of adults with a severe mental illness report co-occurring substance abuse. [3]

The State of Texas is rated last in per capita mental health funding compared to other states.   Harris County’s population continues to increase and is projected to reach 4.5 million

residents by 2020.The shortfall in available mental health services for Harris County residents is expected to only worsen as the population grows.

Of the Harris County citizens in jail, 24.1 percent have a current or past mental illness diagnosis. • Of the 750,000 children and adolescents in Harris County between 6 and 18 years old (2010 Census), nearly 150,000 have a mental illness. • Approximately 19,300 children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance needed services from the public mental health system in 2012, yet 74 percent (14,335) received none. • Almost 69 percent of the 9,100 children referred to the Harris County Juvenile ProbationDepartmentt have a diagnosable mental illness. [4]

The programs of NAMI, Greater Houston (NGH) attempt to address multiple components of the psychiatric needs facing people who struggle with mental illness. Those needs can be visualized as a "three-legged stool" with access, diagnosis, and treatment as the three legs. The first leg is lack of access: 67 percent of people with a DSM-IV diagnosis are not in any type of treatment, according to a 2005 article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Kessler and colleagues. Second is a need for correct diagnoses: 50 percent of people who received mental health treatment, in any setting, had no psychiatric diagnosis, according to Kessler and colleagues. The third issue is lack of effective treatment practices: over the last 15 years, the field made great advances in reaching out and effectively treating people with mental illness. Kessler and colleagues showed that the treatment rate for people with serious mental disorder rose from 24.3 percent in 1990–1992 to 40.5 percent in 2001–2003. [5]


NGH utilizes volunteers and professional facilitators to provide education, support groups, outreach and training that benefit the Greater Houston area. In Our Own Voice - 11 presentations Sharing Hope - 5 presentations NAMI in the Lobby - 5 events Parents and Teachers As Allies - 8 presentations Mental Health 101 - 8 presentations ‘Ask the Doc’ - 85 participants Health and Vendor Fairs - 31 events NAMI Connection- Certification NAMI Basics- Certification Ambassador Training Provider Education- Facilitator Training Advocacy Training—Sharing Your Story The S.E.A. Center (Support, Education and Advocacy)

Funding Controversy[edit]

The funding of NAMI by multiple pharmaceutical companies was exposed by the investigative magazine Mother Jones in 1999, including that an Eli Lilly & Company executive was then "on loan" to NAMI working out of NAMI headquarters.[6]

NAMI came under scrutiny by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley in April 2009. Senator Grassley's investigation of NAMI confirmed that a majority of their funding was coming from the pharmaceutical companies.[7]

In a story written by New York Times journalist Gardiner Harris in 2009, NAMI received over 66 percent of their funding from Pharma. Gardiner, reporting off the findings of a Senate Investigation conducted by Senator Grassley (R) of Iowa.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ NAMI About Us
  3. ^ Mental Illness in Harris County/ A Report of the Mental Health Needs Council, Inc. 2013
  4. ^ Mental Illness in Harris County, A Report of the Mental Health Needs Council, Inc. 2013
  5. ^
  6. ^ Richard Gosden and Sharon Beder Pharmaceutical Industry Agenda Setting in Mental Health Policies Ethical Human Sciences and Services 3(3) Fall/Winter 2001, pp. 147-159.
  7. ^
  8. ^ [1] Harris, Gardinder. New York Times, October 21, 2009

Jeffrey Thomas. 2006. U.S. Nonprofit Group Is "Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness". American Information Program. America Engaging the World. December 21. NAMI Start. 2008. Community Support Programs Branch - History. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Health Information Network. National Mental Health Information Center. September 24. NAMI & CSP. Committee on Veterans Affairs: Hearings. U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Sub-hearing. NAMI and U.S. Govt..

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