Establish a NAMI Affiliate
Starting a NAMI Mississippi Affiliate
Where do you begin?
How do You Begin to Connect with Families Just Like Yours?
First…Contact NAMI Mississippi, 601-899-9058 to learn about other local NAMI groups in your area. Such groups can be invaluable in telling you the “nuts and bolts” of organizing, and some members may be able to come and speak to your group.
Next…Your Community Mental Health Center, psychosocial center, state hospital, or other providers of service can be helpful. While confidentiality may restrict the service providers from giving you the names of interested families, these agencies might be willing to display your group’s brochure and/or give your name and telephone number to other families.
Then…You may want to prepare a brief letter address to other families and ask agencies to circulate it. You may also wish to put a notice in libraries, grocery stores, church letters or church bulletin boards, agricultural extension office bulletin boards, and wherever else people go. You can put notices in the neighborhood section of the local newspaper. Self-help clearinghouses are also an excellent source for contacts.
And…You may wish to begin with the Family-to-Family education program. This is a 12-week course for families of individuals with serious and persistent mental illness. NAMI Mississippi already has trained family educators in many areas of the state. Information on the Family-to-Family education program can be obtained by contacting the NAMI Mississippi State Office at 601-899-9058
Finally…Once you have found a small nucleus of interested people (five is the minimum required) you have an adequate core to start your NAMI group on its way. Call them together for a first Meeting.
Assess Your Personal Situation
This is an essential step because it will help you avoid getting in over your head. Examine your motivation for starting an affiliate. This will help you decide what kinds of options you want to look at (i.e., a low-key support group versus an ambitious issue-oriented group) as well as clarify what your role will be. This important step may spare you major problems later.
Questions to Consider in Making Your Personal Assessment
Q: Why do I want to start a group?
A: The following reasons for forming a local affiliate will provide a sound basis for your planning decisions:
Q: Do I have the self-confidence to delegate tasks as well as share leadership? If not, how can I deal with those issues so that I can still be effective?
A: Find a co-leader and be forthright about your concerns.
Q: Am I open to the ideas of others, or am I threatened when someone brings up a different approach or appears to want to share leadership?
A: Try to be open about these feelings and strive to resolve them over time. The group may help.
Q: Am I comfortable enough to handle leading meetings? Can I handle possible surprises that can occur (i.e., distraught person showing up at a meeting or people remaining silent)?
A: If you have the ability to listen, to encourage others to talk, and a positive, practical outlook on coping with mental illness; if you do not feel the need to control or dominate a meeting, and you do not feel the need to solve every problem or “save” everyone…you will do just fine!!
The bottom line: Be clear about your reasons. This shouldn’t be “your” baby. The most productive approach will be one in which you wish to share leadership with others who feel the same needs.
Your First Planned Meeting
What Happens Next?
In your next several planning meetings, you will want to attend to a variety of tasks that will launch your organization. The order in which you do them may vary according to your needs and the availability of individuals to do them. You will want to:
Benefits of NAMI Membership
The NAMI Mississippi State Office Can Assist You With:
Remember to contact NAMI Mississippi for more information and assistance on establishing your affiliate.
It is recommended that your Steering Committee have between four to six members. You should select individuals who are willing to dedicate their time and efforts toward establishing your NAMI Affiliate. It may be helpful to select people who are team players and those who have experience in areas such as leadership, fundraising, communications, education, etc. We also suggest that you try to include individuals who have personal connections to mental illness and/or a familiarity with NAMI. Make sure expectations are clear from the start. Though there are no term limits for Steering Committee members at this time, we suggest you ask for between one to three years of commitment from these individuals — enough time for your group to progress through at least two of the stages of organizational development.
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