NAMI Merced was founded prior to 2006, by the work of two dedicated local women, Belinda Foutz and Ida Mae Frade. They joined together to teach the Family to Family class once per year as each had family members affected by serious mental illness and wanted to help other families in crisis. In 2006 NAMI Merced County was incorporated into a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support, education, and advocacy throughout Merced County on behalf of individuals, families, and friends affected by mental illness.
Since 2006, NAMI Merced County has blossomed under the leadership of presidents Mary Hofmann, Jan Morita, and Kristi Rieg. Volunteers facilitate at least two 12-week Family-to-Family classes each year as well as a Spanish class when available. Local support has expanded to include bi-weekly Family Support Groups, a 10-week Peer to Peer Recovery class for those living with a major mental illness and a weekly Connections support group during the weeks that classes are not held.
In 2016 NAMI Merced County created a video production about the importance of NAMI and family and consumer education in the lives of several local families that has been well received. In years past NAMI Merced County operated on memberships, donations, and grant support from the Merced County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Grants and gifts from Dignity Health and a major gift from Child Support Services have enabled us to rent a small space at Vault Works, Main and N Street in Downtown Merced, as well as hire a part-time Outreach Director to conduct outreach and organizational work so volunteers can devote their time to providing the valuable classes, groups, and presentations that make a difference in so many lives.
In 2017 we hope to expand other trainings such Parents and Teachers as Allies as well as our Ending the Silence program, often taught in conjunction with health classes at area schools. Our consumers will continue to present a unique and touching one hour program, In Our Own Voice, tracing the progress of folks living with a mental illness as they work towards recovery and we are excited to be working with NAMI California to tailor the NAMI Provider Education to facilitate a four-hour program to area health staff. We will continue to attend local health fairs and public events to disseminate information about our services and bring speakers on topics ranging from mental health care, family roles, 5150 training and suicide prevention.