Mission & History
NAMI NH Mission Statement
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI NH), a grassroots organization of families, consumers, professionals and other members, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of persons of all ages affected by mental illness and/or serious emotional disorders through education, support and advocacy.
NAMI NH Vision Statement
People of all ages with mental illness or serious emotional disorders and their families will have access to comprehensive, integrated health care and community-based supports without discrimination or stigma.
NAMI NH History
After the death of her husband in 1972, Peggy Straw’s daughter began experiencing a mental illness. Back in those days, families, especially parents, were blamed for causing mental illness. Although the Community Mental Health Center Act of 1963 established centers throughout the US, most of them were providing "prevention" services to people who could be identified as the "worried well." The flawed theory was that, if people received services before they became ill, the illness could be prevented.
In an effort to find support and learn about the nature of her daughter’s disease, Peggy joined the NH Association for Mental Health. In 1976, at the urging of the Association’s Executive Director, she wrote to every state to find out if there were any support groups for families of loved ones with mental illness. Of the 39 states that responded to her inquiry, none knew of any support groups or even where information other than patient rights booklets could be obtained.
Peggy decided to start her own support group in 1978 with a few other interested families. As President of her local mental health center, she attended a convention in San Francisco in 1979. There she heard about a group of families from Wisconsin considering the formation of a National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). The next year she travelled to Chicago to attend the first organizational meeting of NAMI, representing New Hampshire.
A seed was planted, and families affected by mental illness joined together to form affiliates throughout the state. Slowly, support groups were organized by affiliates with a goal of advocating for better community based services for their loved ones. In the fall of 1982, NAMI NH legally incorporated in the state of NH as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. With dedication, persistence and hard work, NAMI NH has grown substantially from its humble beginnings, as have the many affiliates throughout the state.
Due in large part to generous individual, corporate and foundation donations, NAMI NH is able to continue to focus on three cornerstones of activity that offer hope, reform and health to our New Hampshire community: Support, Education and Advocacy.