North Brunswick, NJ - March 26, 2014 - On May 3, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New Jersey (NAMI NJ) will receive the American Psychiatric Award (APF) for Advancing Minority Mental Health Award at the Foundation's benefit at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
The APF Awards for Advancing Minority Mental Health were established in 2003 by the foundation with the support of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. (OAPI). The awards recognize psychiatrists, other health professionals, mental health programs and other organizations that have undertaken innovative and supportive efforts to:
- Raise awareness of mental illness in underserved minority communities, the need for early recognition, the availability of treatment and how to access it, and the cultural barriers to treatment.
- Increase access to quality mental health services for underserved minorities.
- Improve the quality of care for underserved minorities, particularly those in the public health system or with severe mental illness.
NAMI New Jersey was recognized for developing pioneering programs that reach multiple underserved communities, including Chinese, South Asian and Latino immigrants and African American communities. The programs, AACT Now, CAMHOP, NAMI NJ en Espanol, and SAMHAJ offer support, education and advocacy for these diverse communities and help to fight the pervasive stigma that makes recovery from mental illness so hard for individuals and families. The program features include:
- Soliciting input and active collaboration from community members and providers through advisory committees that actively incorporate people with mental illness and their families.
- Providing innovative peer support programs where those affected by mental illness take the lead in support groups provided in different languages. This allows for empowerment of peer educators, which due to the high stigma in many of these communities, is an extremely rare leadership opportunity which may then serve to reach and inspire others
- Utilizing the expertise of culturally competent providers to co-deliver education
- Advocating for improved access to treatments and services at the state-wide, and national, levels.
"I am very proud of being recognized by the APF for our programs" said Aruna Rao, NAMI NJ Associate Director, "but we are also very mindful that profound stigma and lack of awareness about mental illness continues to cause great suffering in the communities we work with. I hope that this recognition allows us to tap into more resources to help more people."
NAMI New Jersey, the leading mental health advocacy organization in the state, has been providing support, education and advocacy in order to improve the lives of those affected by mental illness and their families for the past 28 years. More information about NAMI NJ can be found at www.naminj.org.