NAMI Hunterdon – LOOKING BACK
The organization that we know today as NAMI Hunterdon is the result of the efforts of a few courageous parents who worked hard in the late 1980’s to give birth to an organization that would bring a local affiliate of NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) to Hunterdon County. NAMI Hunterdon was originally known as HAMI, the Hunterdon Alliance for the Mentally Ill. The name was changed to conform to a standard and recognizable naming convention for all NAMI affiliates.
Those families dreamed of the day when a child with mental illness would be treated no differently than a child with another chronic illness like leukemia or cancer. They hoped for a time when mental illness could be discussed openly and their ill children and family members could be properly cared for in their own communities and would have safe, comfortable places to live. Accomplishing these simple goals, however, would not be easy.
The founding members also realized the goal of establishing supportive housing for adults suffering with mental illness who could live independently. To that end, they purchased 2 homes in Hunterdon County, one in Clinton, the other in Lebanon, with funds from the Department of Mental Health Services. Each home provides permanent, leased housing to 4 adults (4 males in Clinton, 4 females in Lebanon) with mental challenges who can live independently with minimal case management from community agencies.
Since its inception in 1979, NAMI National and its affiliates have established themselves as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organizations in the country. Dedication, steadfast commitment, and unceasing belief in the NAMI’s mission have produced profound changes. NAMI has been the driving force behind a national investment in lifesaving research, parity for mental health care, increased housing and to ensure that treatments and services are available to those in need when they need them most. NAMI awareness efforts have successfully addressed the stigma of mental illness, ensuring the decrease of barriers to treatment and recovery. NAMI’s signature education programs have served as a beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of families and individuals.