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2016 Report To Our Community

NAMI Pierce County is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  The NAMI Pierce County mission is to provide advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.

2016 was a year with significant successes. Our family programs grew steadily.  We raised community awareness of NAMI Pierce County and mental health while increasing our collaborations.  Our grassroots advocacy program was influential at the local and state level.  We improved governance, sustained our NAMI Connection Recovery Support groups, and a rekindled our NAMI In Our Own Voice presentations.  All this is the result of our wonderful volunteers’ hours of service.  We truly are the sum of our parts.

Our 2017 challenge will be to sustain the momentum for what is working well and to successfully address our challenges.

Our Pierce County Advocacy Fought Unsuccessfully For Real Local Mental Health Care Progress

  • NAMI Pierce County and many of its members were essential parts of a broad community alliance that advocated for Pierce County Council to adopt a 0.1% mental health and chemical dependency sales tax.  This tax would have generated an estimated $10 million per year to fund critically needed behavioral health care services.
    • We helped frame the discussion.
    • We had input into the consultant’s behavioral health study.
    • Our members joined many others to tell our personal stories at public meetings.
    • We collaborated with our allies.  For example, several members were heavily involved in writing the League of Women Voters Behavioral Health Study.
    • NAMI Pierce County and the Tacoma Pierce County Affordable Housing Consortium co-sponsored a behavioral health and affordable housing candidates’ forum.  Nine of ten Pierce County Council and Executive candidates participated.
    • Unfortunately, the community’s efforts fell one vote short of passage.
  • Members participate on many local boards, committees and the like including the League of Women Voters, the Tacoma Pierce County Human Services Coalition, the City of Tacoma’s Human Services Commission, various Optum Behavioral Health Organization boards and committees, and the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department’s Accountable Communities of Health.

We Advocate For Improved Mental Health Care In Washington

  • NAMI Pierce County’s grassroots advocacy supporting NAMI Washington’s legislative agenda is becoming increasingly effective with our Pierce County legislative delegation.
    • NAMI Pierce County 17 members visited our Pierce County state legislators on 2016 NAMI Day in Olympia.  Our members represented 10% of the NAMI members in Olympia that day.
    • 3 NAMI Pierce County members sit on the NAMI Washington Public Policy Committee.
    • Our legislators responded to our requests and introduced legislation during the 2016 session.  The bills were HB 2475 and SB 6565 “Relating to the Disclosure of Health Care Information.”
    • NAMI Pierce County again hosted a 2016 legislative candidates’ mental health care forum.  Twenty candidates, a record number, came away with a better understanding of mental health care issues that are important to NAMI.

Our Family Signature Programs Had A Strong Year

  • Our twice monthly NAMI Family and Friends Support Groups provide family members help and support.  We reached approximately 170 individuals.
  • We reached a record number of families with our four NAMI Family-to-Family classes.  46 individuals graduated from the two classes held in Tacoma and two held in Buckley.
  • We increased our number of trained NAMI Family-to-Family and NAMI Basics teachers.
  • We worked diligently to bring the new NAMI Homefront class to the families of our veteran and active duty military neighbors.  Sadly, our first class was cancelled due to low enrollment.

We Raise Awareness About NAMI And Mental Health Topics

  • Our Outreach Committee expanded their information booth to 10 community events including farmers markets, health fairs, and other community events.
  • Our monthly newsletter, our website, and our information phone line fight stigma and provide education and information about mental illness and NAMI Pierce County.
  • Our monthly Gathering discussion topics included: the Tacoma Police Department’s Co-Responder Program, the League of Women Voters Mental Health Report, Optum BHO, the ins and outs of applying for SSI & SSDI, Hero House club house, and Washington’s Certified Peer Specialist program. 

We Offer Free Support For Individuals Living With Mental Illness

  • We resumed NAMI In Our Own Voice presentations sharing the message that recovery is possible and increased the number of our trained presenters.
  • Our two Connection Recovery Support Groups provided support for an average total of 10 individuals weekly.  Despite having a small core of dedicated and trained facilitators, our ability to continue offering these valuable support groups remains challenged by a shortage of trained facilitators.

We Are Working To Strengthen Our Organization

  • Members and volunteers are who we are, why we exist, and how we do work
    • Currently 60 individuals or families are active members.
    • 54 people volunteered for NAMI Pierce County
  • NAMI Pierce County has been working to meet the NAMI National requirement that each affiliate to meet certain organizational standards.  Our journey is nearly over.  NAMI National has received NAMI Washington’s Board of Directors endorsement of NAMI Pierce County’s re-affiliation.  NAMI National Board of Directors approval is anticipated at their next Board meeting.
  • We continue to partner with other organizations to more effectively achieve our mission.  For example, we partner with CHI Franciscan’s PAR Initiative to increase the number of our annual NAMI Signature classes.
  • We made major changes so we work more efficiently and securely
    • We created a cloud based file system
    • We are migrating to a cloud based, secure software program to manage our finances

Bob Winslow
NAMI Pierce County President
December 21, 2016