Advocacy improves the lives of people living with brain disorders by improving mental health care systems and by changing values and attitudes, especially stigma and discrimination around mental health conditions.

We decrease barriers to mental health, especially among underserved groups in jails, courts, places of employment, schools, agencies, hospitals, and among health care professionals.

NAMI Washtenaw currently advocates by means of five types of activities:

  • Education and information. We provide mental health education to key groups who support, develop and implement mental health policies, including the general community, NAMI members and service agency staff.
  • Relationships with policymakers. We participate in advisory and regulatory committees.
  • Expressions of experience. We help people tell their stories of hope and recovery through a program called Story Jam.
  • Data and knowledge. We collect data from NAMI’s constituents, which informs policy decisions.
  • Policy analysis. We compile information, research and policy analyses from NAMI, NIMH and local experts, which helps us develop positive mental health policies.

NAMI Washtenaw now has five priorities for policy and advocacy in 2018:

  • Diversity Advocacy: We advocate for services to diverse and under-served populations, including
    1. Promotion of education and support of people who under-utilize services through community education and advocacy with service providers
    2. Identification and promotion of services based on geography (e.g. rural and urban zip codes such as 48197, 48198 and 48189)
  • Diversion: We advocate for the prevention of crises and the diversion from crises, including
    1. Police: We promote accommodations, de-escalation, and diversion to mental health services by police.
    2. Health care: We promote early screening, assessment, and referral by primary care providers and complex collaborative care.
    3. Schools: We promote crisis prevention through education with a special focus on addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
  • Suicide: We improve prevention and treatment through community education and collaboration among service agencies.
  • Substance Use Disorders: We improve prevention and treatment through community education and collaboration among service agencies.
  • System navigation and service improvement: We improve navigation and services for people with mental health conditions, including
    1. Advocacy through partnerships with key agencies
  1. Advocacy for provider education:
      1. For service users: e.g., how to understand and navigate service systems
    1. For service providers: e.g., how to sensitize and de-stigmatize providers about mental health conditions
  • Workplace: We enhance accommodations in workplaces for people with mental health conditions, including
    1. Identification and acknowledgment of supportive workplaces (to market NAMI)
    2. Advocacy for education in the workplace
    3. Advocacy for and promotion of workplaces that support mental health

Our strategic plan identifies key leaders, participants, and specific activities among these five priorities. For a copy of the strategic plan and a calendar of events or to get involved with our advocacy work, contact NAMI at or 734-994-6611.