About NAMI Seattle

Who We Are

NAMI Seattle is the only organization in the Seattle area working specifically to fill the gaps in our local mental health system through peer-led education, referrals, and support. Originally established as “Washington Advocates for the Mentally Ill” in 1978, we worked with other concerned groups across the country to launch a national advocacy and support organization: The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. Today, NAMI is the largest grassroots mental health organization in the nation.

Our peer-led presentations, classes and support groups bridge the gap when medical models fail to meet our needs. We have over 40 years of experience elevating stories of lived experience and shining a spotlight on the unique needs of people and families navigating their own mental health journey.

Our Mission

To address the unmet mental health needs within our community through support, referral, education, and outreach.

Our Vision

A world where all those impacted by mental illness know they are not alone, and are empowered to live a fulfilling life.

Our Values

Kindness

  • We listen first.
  • We do not value anyone’s experience or pain as greater or lesser than our own.
  • We assume the best intentions of others, and give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • We operate from a place of curiosity instead of judgement.
  • We understand that people make mistakes and we are all human.
  • We practice self-compassion.
  • We recognize that each person has a life outside of the organization.
  • We support the mental health of our staff and volunteers by prioritizing self-care.
  • We express appreciation often, and we intentionally make space to celebrate accomplishments.

Community

  • We create a welcoming space for everyone. We strive to build an environment where people of any race, ethnicity, class, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, or country of origin feel welcome and seen.
  • We say hello to the people in our office, including visitors.
  • We create opportunities for meaningful connections among people.
  • We take time to get to know each other as individuals.
  • We find fun in our work and have a sense of humor.
  • We are present with one another in group settings (e.g., not checking phones, laptops, etc during meetings), and communicate clearly if we need to be less present.
  • We connect with people of all backgrounds and recognize that mental health affects all of us in different ways.
  • We actively engage people from diverse backgrounds to serve as leaders.
  • We are intentional about the geographic spread of our programs and support groups.

Empowerment

  • We support each other to learn and grow.
  • We actively cultivate an environment of trust and honesty.
  • We acknowledge that everyone has strengths and unique ways of thinking, and do not assume that the ways we do things are the only correct way to do things.
  • We push ourselves to get beyond “we’ve always done it that way” as a reason for a process and are open to change.
  • We work to prevent re-creating our own experiences of disempowerment.
  • We create environments that encourage quieter voices to speak up, and louder voices to step back and listen.
  • We focus our energy on programs and events that promote hope.
  • We encourage people to “pay it forward” by inviting them to become leaders in programs that they have benefited from themselves.
  • We engage people in telling their own story and amplify their voice, rather than speaking for them.

Integrity

  • We put our passion into action and do what we say we will do.
  • We do our work with our values in mind.
  • We give constructive feedback directly, respectfully, compassionately, and with a focus on solutions.
  • We communicate needs and expectations openly, and do not get angry if others do not meet expectations that we did not clearly set.
  • We take responsibility for our mistakes, and learn from them.
  • We actively participate and don’t phone it in.
  • We say “no” to requests that we do not have the capacity to fulfill on time and with high quality.

Our Statement on Racial Equity

NAMI Seattle recognizes that…

…as with all other systems in the United States, the mental health system is deeply impacted by institutional racism, which is harmful to people of color at all levels of society.

…mental health culture, stigma, and systems impact people differently based on many factors, including how their race and ethnicity is perceived.

…communities of color are more likely to experience poorer quality of care, bias or discrimination, and misdiagnosis when they engage with the mental health system.

As an organization, NAMI Seattle believes that…

 …all people have the right to safe, appropriate, respectful, accessible, and consistent mental health treatment and support options.

…racism and racial bias often manifest in ways that are subtle and perpetrated by those of us with the best of intentions.

…if we do not continually work to proactively address and eliminate racial inequities in our organization, our community, our city, and beyond, then we are passively condoning them.

As NAMI Seattle staff and program volunteers, we commit to…

…holding each other accountable, with respect and kindness, for the impact (not just the intent) of our words and actions.

…recognizing that each person is the expert on their own lived experience, and we will not invalidate or try to explain away someone’s personal experience.

…striving to amplify the voices and experiences of those most impacted by injustice and inequity.

…creating a learning community, where mistakes are acknowledged and used as tools for growth and evolution, and no one is expected to know everything.

…using NAMI Seattle’s organizational values of Kindness, Community, Empowerment and Integrity to guide the work that we do to address racial inequities within our organization and beyond.

Click here to download a PDF of this statement.