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NAMI Santa Cruz County


Organization Mission

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Santa Cruz County exists to educate, advocate and support those affected by mental illness, their families, friends and our community.

With a focus on education, support and promoting public understanding, the organization offers free classes, presentations, leadership guidance, support groups, initiatives to advocate for better services for county residents, and more.

Class topics include managing crises, communicating effectively, handling stress, supporting a child’s issues with compassion, impacts on the family, advocating for your child’s rights, current treatments, understanding the difference between “bad behavior” and symptoms of a mental health condition and understanding public mental health care, school and juvenile justice systems.

The Big Idea:
Reducing Stigma —
Focus on Youth and Their Families

One in five kids experience a mental health condition at some point in their development and only 20 percent get help. Early identification and intervention is key to minimizing a crisis. By empowering youth, teachers and parents, our programs in schools make a lasting difference.

For youth experiencing emerging mental health issues, navigating school, friendships, and family life can be even more frightening and challenging than for other children. NAMI seeks to ease those challenges and bring hope to all through free classes, support groups and access to resources for parents.

Next year we aim to provide more than 2,000 students and teachers with our dynamic “Ending the Silence” and “Teachers and Parents as Allies” presentations that offer inspirational real-life stories from young adults and parents who have survived a mental health crisis. These real life experiences equip young people with new ideas and we offer resources that help to prevent mental illness from escalating.

I was terrified and alone about how to help my daughter with her sudden onset of debilitating anxiety, depression, and mood swings. I am so grateful for the support, guidance and hope that I received in the NAMI BASICS class. The Support Group for Families of Youth continues to help me learn about resources and the friendship helps me to cope.

— Alma, mother of a 15-year-old NAMI class graduate