Advocacy is our effort at systems change, working to improve public policy public, attitudes and treatment options for all people whose lives are affected by mental illness. In addition to systems change, we advocate and reduce stigma by educating the public about recovery through the following presentations and outreach:
- In Our Own Voice is a unique public education program in which trained speakers share compelling personal stories about living with mental illness and achieving recovery. It is presented to the public through clubs, businesses, churches, UCSC and Cabrillo, and to mental health facilities.
- Ending the Silence is a middle and high school presentation. Through the presentation, students learn warning signs of mental illness, and are given ideas about how to help themselves, friends, or family members who may be in need of support.
- Parents and Teachers as Allies focuses on helping school professionals and families better understand the early warning signs of mental illnesses in children and adolescents and how best to intervene. It also covers the lived experience of mental illnesses and how schools can best communicate with families.
- Student Leadership Council supports high school clubs whose mission contains a message of hope and recovery for mental illness. We want to support our youth in getting the message out that it is okay to seek help and to build a compassionate community so that when their friends start to feel symptomatic, they will know how to support and connect them to services. We provide assistance to the students and their adult club sponsors.
- Positive Postcards At events in schools or tabling at community events, NAMI invites youth or other community members to create these touching inspirational messages, on postcards, for someone who may be in the hospital, or at a board and care, or experiencing a crisis.
- Legislative change. NAMI advocates for changes to laws regarding access to treatment, and better treatment. Jail and prison have become the de facto alternative in too many cases. There is tremendous shortage of beds for emergency care and other care.
- Improved treatment options. NAMI advocates for more treatment options, for more mental health housing, for better services
- Crisis Intervention Training for Law Enforcement. NAMI Santa Cruz is working with a task force of representatives from sheriff and police, and County Mental Health, to bring this important skill training to all Santa Cruz Law enforcement. Working towards treatment, not incarceration.
- Individual Advocacy. Telephone Help Line. NAMI volunteers help struggling families to find resources and to navigate complex mental health and legal situations, conservatorship, special needs trusts. The volunteer telephone support line provides resources and comfort, often in serious crisis situations.