National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) “provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.”
Dr. Sherrie Vaughn, the new Executive Director for NAMI in Kansas, knows first hand about the heartbreak of mental illness.
Sherrie told the story of her daughter who struggles with psychosis. In her early teens, Sherrie’s daughter reached a point where she believed all food and drink were contaminated. Because she refused all nourishment and liquids, she was eventually hosptialized. Near death, she finally admitted she needed help and found psychological services as well as medical treatment. Now 18 years old, Sherrie’s daughter has gained self-awareness and coping skills. Currently, she is living on her own and navigating support systems in a new community.
NAMI has thirteen affiliates in Kansas, including one in Lawrence. The non-profit offers an array of services to individuals and to families–all at no cost. There is no need to wait for a referral. Funding for NAMI programming comes from a diverse set of foundations, grants, donors, and some state monies.
The Basics Education Program, for example, is open to parents and caregivers of minor children who are experiencing mental health challenges. Peer support groups can be found through the agency as well as in churches and on campuses.