Kerri Leedy, Kaiser Permanente
Nancy Eldred, NAMI California
OAKLAND, Calif., March 8, 2023 – Kaiser Permanente is supporting NAMI California’s efforts to build a regional model that will increase access to mental health services and programs for California communities.
The $2.3 million grant from a Kaiser Permanente fund at the East Bay Community Foundation is helping NAMI California strengthen its 56 local affiliates by providing program management, professional development, assistance for affiliate leaders, advocacy training, and human resources support. NAMI California is part of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
The goal of the regional model is to ensure all Californians can access NAMI services where and when they need them. The grant will help ensure that there is a NAMI affiliate in every California county.
“Kaiser Permanente recognizes the critical role NAMI California plays in our local communities, providing individuals and families with support groups and educational programs at no cost,” said Yvette Radford, vice president, External and Community Affairs, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. “Strengthening NAMI California’s local affiliates will improve access to these valuable programs and help meet the needs of people living with mental illness.”
Increasing access to mental health support
The need for mental health support services continues to grow as more people experience mental health issues. In California alone, more than 5.5 million adults are living with a mental health condition. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue for many, with adults reporting more psychological distress and substance abuse issues since 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“NAMI California has a presence throughout our state; however, the capacity of an individual affiliate to provide support and services is reliant on the individual affiliates’ staffing, budget, and strategic goals,” NAMI California CEO Jessica Cruz said. “Thanks to the Kaiser Permanente support, we will now be able to build our affiliates the resources they need to grow and provide a spectrum of mental health services in our communities.”
Currently just over a quarter of NAMI California affiliates have an operating budget of over $100,000 and less than half have full time staff, leaving the majority of its affiliates working solely on volunteer hours.
Under NAMI California’s new regional model, its 56 affiliates, 36 in Northern California and 20 in Southern California, will be divided into 6 regions with regional leads providing direct support and oversight.
A family member speaks about NAMI
San Jose resident Kathy Forward said the support she received from NAMI California was critical when she was navigating a difficult situation with her teenage son who was struggling with substance abuse and bipolar disorder 25 years ago.
Forward took NAMI California’s Family-to-Family course, which she described as “life-saving.” After taking the class, she became more involved in NAMI Santa Clara County, starting as a volunteer and working her way up to executive director.
She knows firsthand the difference a strong affiliate can make in the community.
“The education and support NAMI California provides should be available to everyone in the state, and I think this regional model is going to make that happen so that the smaller affiliates can grow and get the support they need,” she said. “Having a supportive, educated community can make all the difference in the world.”
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve almost 12.6 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. http://about.kaiserpermanente.org
About NAMI California
The National Alliance of Mental Illness, California (NAMI CA) is a passionate team made of families, members, affiliates, and partners across the state of California who are leading the change on mental illness. NAMI California is the leading organization of individuals working with mutual respect to provide help, hope and health for those affected by serious mental illness. The organization provides leadership in advocacy, legislation, policy development, education, and support throughout the state. For more information, please visit www.namica.org