Working to improve the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families
800 Transfer Road, #31
Saint Paul, MN 55114
toll free: 1-888-NAMI-Helps
NAMI Minnesota concluded its "40 Years of Change," 40-city tour on Jan. 10 in St. Paul where the organization first formed 40 years ago. Over the past several months NAMI's executive director Sue Abderholden made 40 presentations in 40 cities on the history of the mental health system in Minnesota and the many positive changes NAMI Minnesota has helped to create. At the same time she gathered input from community members about their current needs and hopes for the future.
Abderholden called the statewide tour inspiring and reflected, "I learned so much along the way about what people with mental illnesses and their families have gone through and face today and the problems faced by providers and the barriers and problems that still face our mental health system. But l also am filled with hope for the future because I met hundreds of people who have pledged to work for change and have joined our movement."
The tour received lots of press stories from local communities; for example, see Lakeland News story 10-17-16. See Star News 8-18-16 article on tour. Also MilleLacsCoTimes 8-28-16 and Savage Pacer 11-20-16.
Cities visited on the tour were Sandstone, North Branch, Cambridge, Red Wing, Milaca, Albert Lea, Northfield, Stillwater, Montevideo, Willmar, Hutchinson, International Falls, Virginia, Grand Rapids, St. Cloud, Wadena, Detroit Lakes, Moorhead, Crookston, Thief River Falls, Bemidji, Park Rapids, Brainerd, Fergus Falls, Morris, Alexandria, Redwood Falls, Marshall, Worthington, Fairmont, Mankato, Savage, Minnetonka, Buffalo, Duluth, Winona, Rochester, Eagan, Minneapolis and St. Paul.
NAMI Minnesota is celebrating its 40th Anniversary Year of providing education, support and advocacy. The organization was formed in 1976-77, taking on the legislature for the first time in 1976 and incorporating in 1977. “We’ll do anything. Just call off the mothers,” one legislator was heard to say after the fledgling coalition of family members, mostly mothers, barraged legislators with phone calls and visits to get the state to transfer funds from the closing of Hastings State Hospital to create community mental health services.
The legislators gave in, and provided a little over $1.5 million – the first state monies for community mental health programs in Minnesota.
Led by Pat Solomonson, a mother of five who was unable to get services for her son with schizophrenia, the mothers stayed in high gear. Four years later, in 1981 the Coalition – NAMI Minnesota was then known as the Mental Health Advocates Coalition – secured nearly $12 million more for community support programs, day treatment, crisis intervention, drop-in programs and residential programs. It was still only the beginning.
Throughout the year, NAMI Minnesota will mark this noteworthy anniversary with a number of events, including a grassroots 40 city tour by executive director Sue Abderholden to raise awareness; the recognition of 40 people who have shaped and are shaping the history of the organization – including stories and video presentations on their involvement; and a 40 for 40 funding campaign to encourage adding $40 on to regular donations (or $400 or $4,000!) to show support for NAMI’s success over the past 40 years and spark hope for many, many other gains in the future.NAMI’s celebration will also reach out on social media and our website with stories of hope and impact that we are gathering from our classes, support groups, partners, events, donors and volunteers.
More stories on NAMI Minnesota's 40th Anniversary year will appear in the Advocate newsletter, NAMI's e-newsletters and on our website at namihelps.org. Dates and locations of the other cities on NAMI's statewide grassroots tour will be posted soon.