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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Montgomery County
Rockville, Maryland

Brief Description
Given that 26 percent of adults are impacted by mental illness, a critical need exists for education and engagement of the public and private sectors to assist individuals and families coping with mental disorders. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Montgomery County’s program entitled Awareness in the Workplace is a free six-part presentation series that includes an overview of major mental illnesses, treatments, stigma, coping with a crisis, and community resources. This program provides evidence-based information about mental illness with a flexible structure allowing it to be customized for workplaces. The program goals are to increase knowledge of mental illness and provide invaluable resources.

NAMI uses a peer-support model which studies have shown provides significant value to participants. Straight talk and valuable ideas are passed down from those who have firsthand knowledge of the experiences and struggles related to mental illness. When applied to the workplace, this model provides a deeper understanding of what employees experience and how accommodations can be made to retain valuable employees. Studies have shown that four of the top 10 causes of workplace disability are psychiatric. Individuals with mental illness are productive members of society if they receive the treatment they need. With our program, the impact of mental illness on individuals and families is minimized. Our unique program educates and supports public and private sector partners, which in turn extends to their family members. At the start, participants may feel alone, but they gain a sense of community by the end. By empowering participants in this way, the whole county is positively impacted.

The program is presented by a staff member with guest speakers to share their experience of living with mental illness and how their illness or their family member's illness impacts their work. The classes can be attended by any member of the organization, and a safe, confidential environment is ensured. A pilot of this program received excellent reviews. Since that time, a staff member has been charged with refining the program based on participant comments. Due to our outreach to public and private sector partners, we have received multiple requests for this program. The action plan includes (a) identification of businesses and organizations, (b) community presentations at no cost in both English and Spanish, (c) distribution of marketing materials, (d) use of volunteers for distribution of materials, and (e) program enrichment to ensure that up-to-date information for supportive services is included.

Outcomes are measured through (a) participant evaluations completed at the end of each presentation series, (b) total attendance, (c) volunteer recruitment data, and (d) new collaborative partnerships with area organizations. No matter the metric used, the core value of our work is qualitative. We document and quantify our impact through the personal stories. In fact, our commitment to serve the community is best demonstrated by feedback received from participants.

NAMI Montgomery County
11718 Parklawn Drive
Rockville, MD 20852
Katherine Slye-Griffin, Executive Director


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.