NAMI is dedicated to the eradication of mental illnesses and to the improvement of the quality of life of all whose lives are affected by these diseases. Our mission is to serve as an advocate organization in educating, in supporting, and in empowering individuals and families affected by Neurobiological Disorder (NBD) illnesses, referred to as mental illnesses.
That the community at large has the obligation to care and provide for persons suffering with NBD illnesses, throughout their lives.
That service outcomes for those with NBD illness must be driven by safety, dignity, independence and integrity.
That mental health services for those with NBD must be equally accessible to all persons in need, with priority of services given to those with great and urgent need.
That the person with the NBD illness must be an active participant in developing their service and treatment plans, that they should be treated with dignity, and that they should participate in their own outcome assessment.
That the family and/or a person with a NBD illness determine what a"crisis is assessment.
In empowering NBD affected individuals so they may live as independently as for them.
In reducing the public and private stigma associated with NBD illness.
NAMI of Kalamazoo began n the late 1980's as a small group of persons, mostly parents of young adults, who were dealing with NBD illness in their family situations. They met in each other’s homes and then at Gryphon Place and finally landed in the basement of the First Baptist Church in downtown Kalamazoo. The group kept growing and decided to incorporate as a non-profit, get a tax I.D. number, and become a part of the national and state organizations called Alliance For the Mentally Ill. They named themselves Kalamazoo Area AMI-Share.
From the beginning they advocated for better treatments and responsible care for the mentally ill. They tackled issues in housing and family support - educating themselves and the community about the newest medications, therapies, and reducing the stigma of mental illness. They were instrumental in separating the Mental Health Board from the County Human Services Board and the hiring of a director who would concentrate on mental health full time – making sure that folks with developmental disabilities and NBD illness would not be overlooked.
In 2000 AMI-Share became NAMI of Kalamazoo to more closely identify with the national organization NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Over the years NAMI of Kalamazoo has hosted state conferences, worked with Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to establish a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team and Jail Diversion programs, helped train police officers in understanding mental illness, offered support groups and education programs such as Families in Action. NAMI of Kalamazoo has advocated for consumer run programs such as Pathways and Keystone and continues to strongly urge such consumer initiatives as Person Centered Planning and Self Determination. Today NAMI of Kalamazoo meets three times monthly for support, education and board meetings. All meetings are held at Pathways – 119 West Vine Street, Kalamazoo and are open to the public.
Current Conditions and Goals:
We are a community wide 501C-3 non-profit organization of members with diverse opinions who are available and accessible to NBD affected consumers and their families. The dues paying membership is now about 90. We currently sponsor: 1) a bimonthly educational newsletter with a circulation of about 200, 2) a monthly educational/discussion meeting with invited speakers, 3) we teach the Families-in-Action course 2 times a year with KCMHSAS help.
As individual NAMI members, many of us are on local and State boards, committees, and groups whose individual goals are development of better mental health. NAMI of Kalamazoo official positions are developed by our Board and are represented to the public by our President.
NAMI of Kalamazoo's future goals are to expand and activate our membership, continue with our current activities, organize ourselves so that work is shared, improve public services for consumers, and develop better logistical resources to achieve our mission. Our group is a respected community mental health organization. We intend to routinely review and refine our goals.