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Kaiser Permanente Awards National Alliance on Mental Illness California a $2.3 Million Grant

March 27, 2023

This grant will help NAMI California develop a new regional model, providing additional support, technical assistance and programming for its 56 affiliates statewide

Kaiser Permanente is providing National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California with a $2.3 million grant to help it build a regional model that will increase access to mental health services and programs across the state, including in Southern California. 

The grant will help NAMI California strengthen its 56 affiliates by providing program management, professional development, assistance for affiliate leaders, advocacy training and human resources support. The goal is to ensure all Californians can access NAMI services where and when they need it. 

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

“Access to quality mental health services is a national priority and demand is at an all-time high,” said Sandra E. Silva, senior director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “At Kaiser Permanente, we support the important work of NAMI and their goal to ensure Californians in need have access to critical mental health services.”

Increasing access to mental health support

The need for mental health services continues to grow as more people struggle with mental health issues. In California alone, more than 5.5 million adults are living with a mental health condition. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue for many, with adults reporting more psychological distress and substance abuse issues since 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“The Kaiser Permanente support is helping us restructure NAMI California, so our affiliates have the resources they need to grow and provide a spectrum of mental health services in our communities,” said Jessica Cruz, chief executive officer for NAMI California. “We want every NAMI affiliate to be strong and ready to provide services and programming.”

Under NAMI California’s new regional model its 56 affiliates, which include 20 in Southern California and 36 in Northern California, will be divided into six regions with regional leads providing direct support and oversight. 

This ensures every county will now have a NAMI affiliate. Currently, 23 counties in the state don’t have NAMI affiliates leaving millions of Californians without access to NAMI’s services. Also, only 30% of NAMI affiliates have full-time staff, which limits their ability to provide a broad range of mental health services and programs in the communities they serve.

Helping those in need

In Riverside County, Hemet Resident Brenda Scott said she took the eight-week  “NAMI California “Family to a Family” education class and joined a family support group when she was having some challenges with her son who has bipolar disorder.  

This class helped her and her family to better understand her son’s illness and encourage his journey to recovery. This was important, as Scott is a two-time suicide loss survivor, having lost her mother and brother to suicide.

Scott said the “ NAMI California Family to Family” education class changed her life and perspective on mental health. In fact, she eventually became the first executive director at her local NAMI affiliate: NAMI Mt. San Jacinto in Riverside County. 

Scott noted she knows firsthand how important it is to have access to NAMI programs to improve access to mental health services, and that having a strong affiliate is essential to any community. 

She added expanding mental health services is needed across California, and noted the Kaiser Permanente grant will help achieve that goal.