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Families meeting the challenge of mental illness.

NAMI Tookit Pilot.Multicultural Outreach

Culture plays an important role in the way people express symptoms of mental illness and respond to these symptoms in others.

Cultural norms determine if specific behaviors are considered “normal” or “abnormal” and influence access to and acceptance of mental health services. For these reasons, NAMI Mercer strives to reach out to communities with consideration of their cultural contexts.

For several years, NAMI Mercer has made vigorous efforts to become a culturally competent organization, particularly with respect to the African American community. People of color are less likely to receive mental health care due to many factors. Untreated mental illness is highly correlated with higher rates of suicide, homelessness, and poverty. A major goal of NAMI at all levels is helping families to stay together in healthy, supportive relationships. Sadly, an estimated 40 percent of homeless individuals have untreated mental illness and weak connections to family.

NAMI Mercer currently holds its Family-to-Family course at least once a year in Trenton at the Galilee Baptist Church, a congregation that is predominantly African American. We also have piloted a new NAMI program there: Sharing Hope: Understanding Mental Health, an educational presentation intended for African American congregations.

NAMI Mercer currently is initiating new outreach activities with Latino communities in our area and hopes to offer Family-to-Family in Spanish in the near future.

Read an article about our initiatives here and another article about our African American outreach efforts here.

NAMI New Jersey Multicultural Outreach Programs
NAMI NJ serves as a model for developing programs that are tailored to the particular cultures that are represented in the state. SAMHAJ (South Asian), CAMHOP (Chinese), NAMI en Español (Latino), and AACT-NOW! (African American) are its four support and education outreach programs.

For more information about NAMI NJ multicultural outreach programs, go here.

NAMI National Multicultural Action Center
NAMI created the Multicultural Action Center in 2002 to focus attention on system reform to eliminate disparities in mental health care for diverse communities, ensure access to culturally competent services, and support people of diverse backgrounds who are affected by serious mental illness.

The Multicultural Action Center provides resources to consumers, family members and professionals here.


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Families Meeting the Challenge of Mental Illness