Helpline: 1-800-686-2646 or text NAMI to 741741 1225 Dublin Road, Suite 210, Columbus OH 43215

I hope everyone is off to a great 2024. Each New Year is an opportunity to evaluate, reassess, and commit our time and energy to the grow and make this world a better place. Being on the fiscal year calendar of July 1 – June 30, it is easier at NAMI Ohio to do this in June and July. But I still like to take this midyear time to evaluate our priorities to ensure we are serving the individuals and families we represent and staying focused on the mission. Our core work is education, support, and advocacy. We do this through our alliance of 38 Affiliates and ensuring local communities have the tools needed to help individuals with serious mental illness and their families. NAMI Ohio’s education and advocacy extends to individuals and families, to the local decision-makers, elected officials, and those leading and providing services to those we love in each community throughout Ohio.

My role is to ask the tough questions: are we educating and navigating people in crisis and answering their calls; are we supporting individuals by providing quality peer and family groups; are we reaching more young people and diverse people groups with educational programs; are we advocating for and helping to develop person-centered support services lacking in our local communities (housing, meaningful day services, and enhance care management for those most in need)? There are many days where I am acutely aware that if NAMI Ohio does not speak up, then it is likely the voice of those with lived experience will not be heard.

I say often we do not need another study, focus group, or environmental analysis; just ask those that call our office everyday what they need. This is what we hear:

  1. Housing – inpatient to independent living and everything in between is need for those with serious mental illness.
  2. Support and Education from those who have walked the path they are currently on. This is connecting with our local Affiliate lead education and support groups.
  3. Navigation and Care Management – someone to walk beside them even when it is not a crisis, and to routinely check on their loved one to ensure basic needs are being met. I like to call this enhanced case management services.
  4. Meaningful Day Services – a Clubhouse, a Peer Recovery Center, job and life training skills (a place where everyone knows your name). This is needed in every community.

This list are things each and every one of us needs to live a happy and healthy life. At NAMI Ohio we take over 250 calls to our Helpline each month, and routinely hear similar stories and struggles. It is our job to make these voice heard. The facts are clear and undisputable: too many individual with serious mental illness are homeless, in our County jails, or in Ohio’s prisons; too many families do not know where to turn in their greatest time of need; the people we hear from do not know if they have access to case management services; and the struggles and barriers that exist today have gone on for decades!

So, NAMI Ohio will continue to fight and purse a real person-centered mental health treatment AND support system that prioritizes those most in need and far too often neglected. I promise to focus the work at NAMI Ohio on implementation and action to address the needs addressed above. Lastly as an Affiliate Director recently shared with me, NAMI many times fills the gap with education and support to save individuals and families when they enter the system and await treatment and support, and then we are there with them through long haul.

I look forward to this work and hope you will continue your partnership with NAMI Ohio and our Affiliates.