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NAMI New Orleans began as a psychosocial program.  The agency was incorporated as Friends of the Psychologically Handicapped in 1978.  Its mission at that time (and still today) was to provide psychosocial supports for persons with mental illness and to be a family support and advocacy program for the community.  The program started as a volunteer-run drop in center.  The volunteers were family/board members.  At that time, the program sought a model for the organization and ultimately decided to model the services after the Fountain House Clubhouse in New York.  The origins of Fountain House lie in the idea which inspired a small group of people back in the early 1940s – the belief that people with mental illness are capable of helping each other.  Then in 1979, National NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) began seeking out programs that could affiliate with its national branch of NAMI.  The board of directors for Friends of the Psychologically Handicapped agreed to be affiliated with NAMI National.  The organization changed its name in 1980 to Friends Alliance for the Mentally Ill.  Years later, all NAMI affiliates were asked to again change their names to NAMI plus your city or state.  Today, the program is called NAMI New Orleans.  The psychosocial clubhouse model has been the core of service provision for persons with mental illness for more than 30 years now.

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