What Is NAMI?

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious mental illness and their families. Founded in 1979, NAMI has become the nation’s voice on mental illness, a nationwide organization with affiliates in every state and in more than 1,100 communities. The Billings affiliate was started in 1995 and has served countless local families and individuals suffering with mental illness.

What does Nami-Billings do?

NAMI-Billings provides programs at no charge for people with mental illnesses and for the people who love them. Programs provided include:

Family to Family: a 12 week class for family members

Peer to Peer: a 9 week course for individuals with serious mental illness

Provider Education Program: a course for treatment professionals

In our own voice: Speakers who have mental illnesses that have been trained to share their stories effectively

Weekly Support Groups

Monthly Community Education presentations

One-to-One support and friendship for families and individuals affected by mental illness

Efforts to decrease the stigma of mental illness

Advocacy to create effective treatment alternatives

What is Mental Illness?

Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders than can severely disturb a person’s ability to think, feel, and interact with others. The latest scientific research shows that mental illnesses are physical disorders of the brain. Many treatments, especially medications, are available to relieve the signs and symptoms of these illnesses.

* Schizophrenia is a thought disorder with symptoms such as hearing and seeing things that aren’t really there. It affects about 1 in 100 people.

* Major Depression will strike about 8% of people in their lifetime. It may show up as extreme sadness and a loss of interest in usual activities.

* Bipolar disorder (also called manic-depressive disorder) affects 1 to 2% of people, often causing severe mood swings from depression to abnormally elevated mood.

* Obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder, affects about 2.5% of people. People with OCD show symptoms such as disturbing repetitive thoughts or behaviors.

* Other anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These illnesses involve feelings of extreme nervousness or embarrassment and sometimes, panic attacks.

* Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) occurs in 3 to 5% of school-age children and causes significant problems with functioning in school or at work.

All of these illnesses are considered to be serious mental illnesses. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have one of these illnesses, please see a physician for an evaluation as soon as possible.