Our roots as an organization are steeped in advocacy. Our founders battled a system that did not provide for the needs of their family members with serious mental illness and they found support in each other through their struggle. We have come a long way since 1978 and have developed sophisticated educational and support programs to help those who come to us for help. In fact, since 1990 our programs have been a concentrated focus of our organization, as they should be, but let us not forget the necessity of our advocacy. If a new NAMI family seeks help in a support group connecting with needed services in the community, they should find a system that listens to the people it serves and provides high quality care. In the face of the new Realignment of 2011, we must evolve and change with the times. Our state organization has always been on the front lines of advocacy, but outside of state legislation many of the “fronts” have moved within county lines. Advocacy is “Going Local.” It is time to develop a local advocacy network that rises to the excellence of our programs. It is so important that we bring a strong focus to our local issues just as we have strived to do at the state level with NAMI California.
NAMI CAN! (California Advocacy Network)
So, Game On, NAMI California members. We have more members than any other mental health organization, consumers, family members, and friends, spread across 72 affiliates and most of the 58 counties. NAMI CAN! We can understand the issues, we can help assure that our local Mental Health Boards and Commissions not only understand the issues but hear our input, and we can help our Boards of Supervisors do the right thing for people living with mental illnesses. We can help each other help all of the counties provide appropriate services for their residents although they vary from Del Norte to San Diego and from Sierra to Imperial because together, we're better.