The Three Levels of NAMI

Three Levels of the Mental Health Movement: NAMI, NAMI Virginia, and NAMI Affiliates

Who Does What?

The NAMI movement works to raise mental health awareness, provide education and support, and improve the mental health system. These efforts involve three levels of organizational collaboration: NAMI, the NAMI state office, and local NAMI affiliates. As a big NAMI family, our pathways to success are intertwined, and each level has an important role to play. It’s valuable to understand the specific roles that each NAMI entity plays in the collective mental health movement. Continue reading to learn more about each level of NAMI.


NAMI (national level)

Mission: To eradicate mental illnesses and to improve the quality of life of all who are affected by these diseases.

Vision: Building better lives for the millions impacted by mental illness

Primary functions:

  • Provide strategic direction for the entire organization
  • Provide materials and technical assistance to NAMI’s state and affiliate organizations around branding, advocacy issues, programs and organizational capacity.
  • Create evidence-based or best practice education and support programs
  • Establish a public policy platform to educate and influence decision-makers in the highest levels of federal government
  • Operate a HelpLine that provides resources and directs people on how to connect to state and local NAMI organizations
  • Organize an annual national convention for 2,000+ people for educational development, training, and capacity-building
  • Stay abreast of national research practices and opportunities, provide input to NIMH about research priorities and develop and disseminate resources, fact sheets, brochures, and guides that assist families, individuals, and professionals

Address: 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Ste. 100, Arlington, VA 22203

Phone: Main: (703) 524-7600; Member Services: (888) 999-NAMI (6264)

Website: http://www.nami.org


NAMI Virginia (NAMI state organization)

Mission: To promote recovery and improve the quality of life of Virginians with serious mental illness through support, education, and advocacy.

Vision: We envision a world free of stigma and discrimination where all people impacted by mental illness get the help, hope, and support they need.

Primary functions:

  • Provide strategic leadership to improve Virginia’s mental health system.
  • Provide free trainings, materials and technical assistance to NAMI affiliates in Virginia so they can carry out education, support, and anti-stigma programs.
  • Provide guidance and technical support to affiliates on how to operate an affiliate including best practices and principles around nonprofit management.
  • Establish a state-specific public policy platform to educate decision-makers in the highest levels of state government and mobilize members and stakeholders around public policy issues.
  • Establish state-level partnerships to work together on common issues and priorities.
  • Operate a HelpLine that provides resources and information, and directs people on how to connect with local NAMI affiliates.
  • Organize annual events (state convention, Family and Youth Summit, research events, etc.) to bring together advocates, volunteers, members, and other stakeholders for educational opportunities, training, capacity-building, networking, and sharing strength and energy.
  • Develop and disseminate resources, fact sheets, brochures, and guides that assist families, individuals, and professionals.

Address: PO Box 8260, Richmond, Virginia 23226

Phone: 804-285-8264; HelpLine: 1-888-486-8264

Website: www.namivirginia.org


NAMI Virginia affiliates

Primary functions:

  • Offer free peer support, education and outreach programs for individuals with a mental health diagnosis and their families.
  • Engage in community education and advocacy to decrease stigma and increase awareness.
  • Respond to local HelpLine calls and emails from individuals and families seeking help.
  • Advocate at the local, state, and national level to improve policies and funding for the mental health system.
  • Usually staffed by dedicated volunteers.
  • Located in many communities throughout Virginia.

Contact information: check here for affiliate contact information.