Every NAMI affiliate has its own poignant story of how it rose from a small number of concerned family members to a powerful voice in the community. NAMI Santa Clara County has grown to become a valued member of the local mental health support community. NAMI staff and volunteers have won numerous recognition and awards for their commitment to grass-roots mental health education, support and advocacy in Santa Clara County.
History of NAMI Santa Clara County
The organization that we know today as NAMI Santa Clara County is the result of the efforts of a few courageous parent leaders, many families and individuals, as well as friends and professionals who worked hard in the 1970s and 1980s to give birth to an organization that would completely change the way we view mental illness. During that time families dreamed of the day when a child with schizophrenia would be treated no differently than a child with any other chronic illness like leukemia or mental retardation. They hoped for a time when mental illness could be discussed openly and their ill children and family members could be properly cared for in their own communities. Accomplishing these simple goals would not be easy.
For NAMI Santa Clara County, it all began in 1975 when a group of parents met; there were twelve in attendance at that first meeting. In 1978, the Santa Clara chapter of PAMI (Parents Alliance for the Mentally Ill) was formed. This was the genesis of the organization that turned into a national movement to inform and educate the country about mental illness and advocate for the rights and care of mentally ill family members. This organization changed the way we think about, treat and care for those with mental illness.
In 1991 the organization became the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, then the National Alliance on Mental Illness—NAMI, the organization that we are known as today. Since its inception in 1979, NAMI National, of which we became a part, has established itself as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in NAMI’s mission have produced profound changes. NAMI has been the driving force behind a national investment in lifesaving research, parity for mental health care, increased housing and assurances that treatments and services would be available to those in need when they need them most. NAMI awareness efforts have successfully addressed the stigma of mental illness, ensuring the decrease of barriers to treatment and recovery.
NAMI’s signature education programs have served as a beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of families and individuals. Our affiliate, NAMI Santa Clara County, offers more education programs than most other NAMI affiliates.
- In 1997 NAMI Santa Clara County offered the first Family-to-Family class.
- In 2002, we offered the first Familia a Familia class.
- In 2003, the first Peer-to-Peer class took place.
- In 2006, we held our first Provider class.
- In 2007, we created and began to offer Peer PALS, a very significant program and the first of its kind anywhere. Peer PALS is rapidly becoming a model emulated by other affiliates.
- In 2008, our first Basics class was held.
- In 2009, we offered our first Parents and Teachers as Allies presentation.
- In 2010, our Chinese group completed the first written translation of the full Family-to-Family Course into Chinese and used it for the first time.
- In May of 2012, we began having Ending the Silence presentations.
NAMI Santa Clara County Awards: 2006 – 2016
NAMI Santa Clara County staff and volunteers have been recognized numerous times by prestigious local organizations who present awards to outstanding community volunteers and activists.
Lilly Henning, Junior League of San Jose Crystal Bowl Winner for Volunteer Work.
Mike and Lilly Henning, Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Hero’s Award.
Peter Newman, 25th California Assembly District Fremont Hero Award for NAMI Volunteer Service.
Gini Mitchem, Distinguished Volunteer Fundraiser Award from Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals, SV.
Vic Ojakian, Junior League of San Jose Crystal Bowl Winner for Volunteer Work.
Gini Mitchem, 25th California Assembly District San Jose Hero Award for NAMI Volunteer Service.
Kathy Forward, Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Hero’s Award
Gini Mitchem, Junior League of San Jose Crystal Bowl Winner for Outstanding Volunteer Work for NAMI SCC.
Jen Hong, Junior League of San Jose Crystal Bowl Winner for Outstanding Volunteer Work for NAMI SCC.
John Mitchem, Family Member Hero Award, SCC Mental Health Board and Department.
Katherine Fok, Client Hero Award, SCC Mental Health Board and Department.
Jim Beall, Elected Official Hero Award, SCC Mental Health Board and Department.
Jeffrey Pea, Chiao-Wen Chen, Jill Chen-Kuendig, Jen Hong, Katherine Fok, Culture to Culture Foundation’s Mental Health “Pushing Hands” Award.
John Mitchem, Award from Calpulli Tonalehqueh for mental health service to the Hispanic Community.
Mary and Vic Ojakian, Jefferson Award from KCBS radio and KCBS TV channel 5.
Bev Lozoff, Junior League of San Jose Certificate of Appreciation
Navah Statman, Richardson Award as the outstanding volunteer in the 75 NAMI Cal affiliates.
NAMI Santa Clara County, Shining Stars Award from Momentum for Mental Health for Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma.
Kathy Forward, Junior League of San Jose Certificate of Appreciation.
John Mitchem, Family Support Award from the Santa Clara County Mental Health Board .
Mary and Vic Ojakian, Palo Alto Tall Trees Award from the Palo Alto Weekly and the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce for their anti-suicide work.
Dan Wu, NAMI activist and psychiatric nurse in the Behavioral Health Unit , Patty Piantanidi Nursing Award as outstanding nurse at El Camino Hospital.
Gini and John Mitchem, EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award in recognition of their “competitive spirit and effort and behalf of the disability community”. Award sponsored by the EP Foundation for Education, MassMutual Financial Group, League of Dreams, and Miceli Financial Partners of San Jose.
Sharon Roth, Outstanding Criminal Justice Award from NAMI California.
Monica Nay, Junior League of San Jose Certificate of Appreciation.
Sharon Roth, Junior League of San Jose Silver Bowl Winner for Outstanding Volunteer Work for NAMI SCC.
Luisa Perez, Winner of the NAMI National Multi-Cultural Outreach Award.
John Mitchem, Local Hero Award from Bank of America.
Luisa Perez, Jefferson Award from KCBS Radio, KCBS TV Channel 5 and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Luisa Perez, Junior League of San Jose Crystal Bowl Winner for Outstanding Volunteer Work for NAMI CC.
Luisa Perez, Award for Service to the Latino Mental Health Community by the 12th Annual Latino Behavioral Institute Conference
Navah Statman, Junior League of San Jose Crystal Bowl Winner for Outstanding Volunteer Work for NAMI SCC.