Press Releases

African American Families and Mental Health: What You Need to Know

NAMI Releases Family Guide to Mental Health

Mar 14 2007

Arlington, VA — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released A Family Guide to Mental Health: What You Need to Know, oriented especially to African-American families affected by medical illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The 15-page booklet outlines symptoms and treatment options for each illness, along with NAMI education and support programs, and other information resources. It is intended for use by churches, community-based organizations, health and mental health centers, and schools.

NAMI's signature programs include its Family-to-Family Education program, which offers a free 12-week course to family caregivers for individuals living with a mental illness, as well as Peer-to-Peer education for people moving toward recovery.

NAMI seeks to educate in personal terms. The booklet offers testimony from three families about their experiences with mental illness.

LaToya's husband, who has bipolar disorder, no longer seems like the man she married 10 years before. "There were times when I just didn’t know who he was. He would get angry over nothing and everything would get on his nerves."

  • Tommy had to ask his boss for a few days off from work in order to help his mother with his sister. She has artistic talent, but also symptoms of schizophrenia. "Mom tells me she hears Tammy talking with someone in her room…when there is nobody in there but her."
  • Serita's father always had experienced "the blues" from time to time, but no one expected suicide.He was a deacon in his church, but stopped going to social events. He wrote a letter to an estranged sister. He sold his prized fishing boat. "Four days ago, for no apparent reason, he began cleaning out his closet—throwing away a lot of his old clothes and bagging other stuff for Goodwill."

Single copies of the booklet can be requested at 1-800-950-6264 (NAMI). It also can be downloaded, or multiple copies ordered at a bulk rate of 50 copies for $27.00, at

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