Where does a family turn if their loved one has just been diagnosed with a serious mental illness? Where does one learn more about taking charge of their own recovery from a serious bout with depression? Where can clergy turn for information on how to provide support to parishioners who are struggling with early symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? Each should turn to NAMI for a caring, informed response!
NAMI Mercer is a non-profit organization of families and individuals working to improve the lives of those affected by mental illness, through education, advocacy and mutual support. As an affiliate of the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the nation’s largest grassroots organization of people with mental illness and their families, NAMI Mercer is one of 20 NAMI county affiliates in New Jersey.
Incorporated in 1984, the organization has grown into a strong organization of 400 member households. It leads advocacy and outreach efforts to improve the mental health system as well as a broad range of education and support programs. NAMI is a membership organization that provides all its programs free of charge in large part due to the generosity of volunteers. With a staff of three full-time positions and one part time position, NAMI Mercer deploys around 200 volunteers to carry out their mission. During 2010, NAMI Mercer affected the lives of over 4,000 people in greater Mercer County.
“Faith communities can play a very important role in reducing stigma and providing support for individuals and families who are affected by mental illness. Research shows that 60 percent of people turn to faith leaders first when mental illness strikes,” stated Ann Renee Hansard, director of programs. For these reasons, NAMI provides outreach and education in churches and other places of worship, and has developed a network of congregations and online resources entitled “Faith Net.”
NAMI Mercer uses volunteers to: staff its weekday Helpline; teach its classes for mental health consumers or family members; provide administrative support; staff their educational or fundraising events, and Volunteers also participate in outreach events to educate the public about mental illness and recovery. “Volunteering is a very meaningful way to help others and is a major aspect of recovery for consumers and family members,” said Sally Osmer, executive director of NAMI Mercer.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at NAMI Mercer, call at 609 799 8994 or visit: www.namimercer.org.
Does your parish, school or charitable organization need volunteer assistance? Put out a call for volunteers through the Faith In Action feature of The Monitor. send all requests to [email protected]. Type FAITH IN ACTION into the subject line.
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