Photo: NAMI group that participated in Advancing Mission Thrivability

ADVANCING MISSION THRIVABILITY Offers NAMI Opportunity for Program Success

Posted on March 31, 2021 by Colleen Thayer, APR, CPRC, Executive Director at NAMI Sarasota and Manatee Counties
For more than 40 years, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has been the nation's leading voice in mental health support, awareness, and advocacy. Since 1984, our local affiliate has supported individuals living with mental illness, their families, and caregivers; advocated on mental health; focused on educating the public about mental illness; and worked to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.

The COVID pandemic has demonstrated the increased need for mental health treatment and support, with rising numbers of people with moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety, increased thoughts of suicide and self-harm, and an increase in the number of youth and young adults struggling with their mental health. Isolation is a challenge for many people living with mental illness, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. We know that as the pandemic subsides, the related mental health effects will most likely continue to increase, and education and support are key components to long-term recovery.

We are fortunate to live in a community that supports and continues to increase its investment in mental health, and 2020 offered NAMI several grant opportunities enabling our affiliate to provide support and education and begin much-needed youth programming. We also were afforded the chance through The Patterson Foundation to participate in the Advancing Mission Thrivability (AMT) Initiative.

We didn't really know what to expect from the AMT sessions, but what we found as we worked through the process was, more than anything else, we didn't need to "do everything all at once." Larry Clark facilitated our discussions, dissecting all of the programs and related support that we currently offer, and tied it to what was mission-focused and margin-driven. We hadn't looked at it like that before. One of the greatest takeaways was that, while we know our education and support programs are all mission-driven, perhaps because of the pandemic, a few things aren't as margin-driven as they need to be, and it is OK to hit the pause button. It doesn't mean we won't come back to it, but rather slow down and reevaluate at a later time.

Moving forward, the AMT process is enabling our staff and board to rework the strategic plan, look at partnership opportunities, and visualize the organization's needs over the short and long-term. NAMI support groups and education classes are all peer-led, so offering more support to our volunteers, who themselves live with mental illness or are family members, was another critical takeaway.

NAMI's participation in AMT offered us a new way to look at our organization, its strengths and weaknesses, along with future opportunities. We are grateful to The Patterson Foundation and No Mission, No Margin for their support, guidance, and expertise!

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