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Advocacy and Community Education


NAMI New Orleans is committed to advocating for better lives for people living with mental illness and their family members.  We do this through advocating for legislation at the local, state and federal levels as well as through community education.  You can help by joining NAMI New Orleans as a member, attending or organizing a community presentation, signing up for legislative alerts, taking our NAMI Smarts for Advocacy training, or joining us for Behavioral Health Day at the state capitol in May.  See below for more information about these programs.

In Our Own Voice is a community education program in which two trained presenters who are living in recovery from mental illness share their experiences.  The presentation lasts from 60-90 minutes and includes presenters’ stories, a video and time for audience Q&A.  Participants gain a better understanding of what it is like to live with mental illness and stay in recovery.  In Our Own Voice can change attitudes, preconceived notions and stereotypes regarding mental illness.  It is offered free of charge to students, health providers, faith communities, law enforcement, non-profits and community organizations throughout the Greater New Orleans area.  To schedule an In Our Own Voice presentation for your organization, congregation, school or community, please contact Shannon at (504) 896-2345 or


Sharing Hope is a presentation and discussion about mental health in the African American community designed to help address the significant disparities in mental health outcomes that African Americans experience.  It  is led by an individual living with a mental illness and a family member of someone with a mental illness.  Presenters share their personal experiences as well as information about signs and symptoms of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depression, and guidance for families dealing with these illnesses.  This presentation is also offered free of charge.  Please contact Shannon at (504) 896-2345 or for more information.


NAMI Smarts for Advocacy is a day-long, hands-on advocacy training program that helps people living with mental illness, friends and family transform their passion and lived experience into skillful grassroots advocacy.  Participants develop confidence and the skills to more effectively: tell a story that is inspiring and moves people to take action, write an effective email, make a compelling short phone call and “elevator speech”, and plan a successful meeting with an elected official.  NAMI Smarts is generally offered in the spring at the start of the legislative season.  Advocates who participate in NAMI Smarts are encouraged to join us for Behavioral Health Day at the state capitol in May and to actively participate in our advocacy campaigns throughout the year.  To be added to the list for the next class, please contact Shannon at (504) 896-2345 or

mhfa-logoMental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8-hour class that teaches you to help someone struggling with a mental health problem or who is in crisis. Topics for Adult MHFA include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, disorders in which psychosis may occur, substance use, and trauma. There is also Youth MHFA, which is for caregivers and people who directly interact with youth at their jobs. It teaches you to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including ADHD), and eating disorders.

Certifications are good for three years. You can learn more on the MHFA website.

To be added to the list for the next class, please contact Shannon at (504) 896-2345 or

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