How to get involved as a volunteer
Find your local affiliate by going online to see a map and contact information for NAMI Ohio affiliates
You will see contact information by following their websites. Specific volunteer opportunities will be answered by the local affiliate. All are looking for program leaders.
NAMI has many different programs and courses that need participants, volunteers and in some cases leaders. Here are a few:
NAMI Basics is for parents and other family caregivers of children and adolescents who have either been diagnosed with a mental health condition or who are experiencing symptoms but have not yet been diagnosed.
NAMI Family-to-Family is a class for families, partners and friends of individuals with mental illness. The course is designed to facilitate a better understanding of mental illness, increase coping skills and empower participants to become advocates for their family members.
NAMI Homefront is a class for families, partners and friends of military service members and veterans experiencing a mental health challenge. The course is designed specifically to help these families understand those challenges and improve the ability of participants to support their service member or veteran.
NAMI Peer-to-Peer is a recovery education course open to anyone experiencing a mental health challenge. The course is designed to encourage growth, healing and recovery among participants.
NAMI Ending the Silence is a presentation designed for middle and high school students, school staff, and parents or guardians of middle or high school aged youth. Audiences learn about the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, how to recognize the early warning signs and the importance of acknowledging warning signs.
NAMI Family Support Group is a weekly or monthly support group for family members, partners and friends of individuals living with a mental illness.
Parent Advocacy Connection (PAC) is a grassroots organization of trained parent advocates who reflect the cultural and ethnic make-up of the families they serve. When children require services from multiple sources, it can be difficult for parents to navigate various service systems. Contact Tamisha McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org
YouthMOVE Ohio is a vibrant youth-led organization devoted to improving services and systems to support youth inclusion, mental wellness, positive supports, and healthy transition.
NAMI Athens is looking for someone to lead the affiliate into the next chapter. This would be a part-time Director to run events, coordinate mental health education, partner with NAMI Ohio and NAMI National as well as local organizations and Ohio University in Athens, and in time, broaden our reach & advocacy.
NAMI Geauga is seeking an Executive Director
NAMI Four County is seeking an Education Coordinator.
NAMI of Southern Ohio needs to train volunteers for all available NAMI education and support groups. The organization will hire on a contract basis so trainers will be paid at the completion of the sessions they have presented. We are going to try this in lieu of hiring permanent staff. We are looking for individuals to work in five of our counties: Ross, Pickaway, Pike, Fayette and Highland.
NAMI Ohio President Lovell Custard brings broad professional social service and intimate personal mental health experience to the job of steering the state’s largest mental head advocacy organization.
Lovell, a native of Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood, became president earlier this year, replacing Joyce Campbell, a Fairfield Municipal Court Judge and president of the national NAMI organization. Judge Campbell remains on the state board.
Lovell, 57, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Murtis Taylor Human Services System, a large Cuyahoga County organization providing behavioral health, addiction, youth, family, residential and senior services at 12 locations to more than 12,000 people.
Lovell and his wife, Nancy, who have been married for 25 years, live in Cleveland.
Lovell said assuring Ohioans with mental illness receive all services, including housing, food, and basic human needs, “is the foundation for recovery and treatment. You can provide all the case management, therapy, and medication, but if a person doesn’t have a safe place to lay their head at night, food and clothing, it’s not going to work.”
Murtis Taylor recognizes the most basic human need for food by providing meals for people who come for services, in part because mental health medications require the person to eat when taking them.
Services for the mentally ill beyond treatment, especially housing, will be a focus during his tenure as president, Lovell said. He noted that NAMI Ohio may get involved directly in providing housing instead of solely supporting housing programs and projects as in the past.
“We’ve been doing a lot housing,” he said, “but it comes to a point where we’re just not moving fast enough.” Compared to the need, he said, “it’s still only a drop in the bucket.”
NAMI Ohio Executive Director Luke Russell said, “Lovell is not just an advocate but a veteran of providing services and supports. He knows people and families can only recover if they have community support and housing with treatment being provided.”
Russell said Lovell is “on the frontlines in the community and he sees the connection between physical health and needs as it relates to mental health. He is passionate about serving the whole person.”
NAMI Ohio advocates for housing as part of person-centered mental health,” Russell said. “People need safety, security, and community as part of their recovery journey. It is naive to believe someone can thrive with treatment alone, we have to start prioritizing housing, day services, and care coordination.”
Lovell was one of three children born to Kenneth and Donna Custard. One of his two sisters, Donna Johnson, suffered from severe and persistent mental illness and died in 2008 at the age of 46.
“I grew up in a family that didn’t know a lot about mental illness and treatment,” Lovell said. He was working in business management, having earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he returned to college to get a second bachelor’s in social work, in part due to the influence of his sister’s illness.
Lovell’s reached out to NAMI of Greater Cleveland seeking information and help for his sister. The organization eventually asked him to serve on the board.
“It was something I believed in, and I was interested in learning more about mental health.”
Lovell joined the NAMI Ohio Board in 2008, became second vice president in 2018, first vice president in 2020, and president on July 1, 2023.
His experience prior to Murtis Taylor includes working at the Center for Families and Children directing Project Safe Harbor, managing operations of the Central District of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, and serving as head of Marketing and Development of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland.
He also serves on several other boards and was appointed by Gov. Mike DeWine in 2022 as Expert Advisor to the OneOhio Recovery Foundation.