National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire

NAMI New Hampshire (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) is dedicated to improving the quality of life of persons with mental illness and their families so they may have the opportunity to recover, achieve their aspirations, and live, work and play in the community of their choice. NAMI NH provides support to families and the public through its support groups, educational programs, and information and referral services. NAMI NH fights stigma and advocates for members’ rights through its legislative efforts and education.

Challenge
In a strategic planning process in 2006, the NAMI NH board identified the lack of awareness in New Hampshire of NAMI’s education and support programs as a top priority for improvement. It set these goals:

  • Increase NAMI NH’s visibility statewide and actively engage more people as members, volunteers, advocates, and community partners.
  • Strengthen and integrate the relationship of the volunteers and the state office to enhance program delivery and to help cultivate relationships with volunteers and advocates at the local level.

How ESC Helped
NAMI NH obtained a grant from NAMI National to promote awareness among medical and mental health providers, in order to increase referrals to NAMI NH programs. Increased referrals were expected to improve program participation and grow NAMI NH membership. NAMI NH engaged ESC to advance this effort. NAMI NH staff and ESC divided the work into two phases:

Planning Phase

  • Assess the knowledge of NAMI NH among medical and mental health
    providers by conducting a mail survey of over 400 professionals in
    New Hampshire.
  • Improve the process of recording and responding to referrals. Working
    with NAMI staff and volunteers, flow chart the referral process,
    identify major areas for improvement, and create an action plan to
    address these areas

Implementation Phase

  • Develop a plan for regular communication with service providers to increase referrals to NAMI NH.

Results
ESC completed a mail survey of 400 hard-to-reach health care professionals to identify marketing messages and methods that would best influence different target groups, improve awareness and support, and increase referrals. ESC used this information to:

  • Engage an advertising agency to develop and update key marketing
    materials, including brochures, letters, posters, stationary, and the
    NAMI NH website.
  • Develop an on-going communications program with medical and mental
    health providers in New Hampshire.
  •  Increase referrals by improving the process of stimulating, receiving,
    and forwarding referrals volunteer members throughout the state.

Summary
NAMI NH has significantly improved its awareness and appreciation among medical and mental health providers who are key to referring friends and family members to NAMI programs across the state. Program attendance is rising; volunteer affiliate members are pleased with the increased cooperation and marketing support they have been receiving, and the quality of life of friends and family members of persons with mental illness is improving. In recognition of their operational effectiveness, NAMI NH received the Walter J. Dunfey Corporate Fund award for excellence in Nonprofit Management in 2008.

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