Alliance for the Mentally Ill – Oakland County
The Alliance for the Mentally Ill (AMI) is a not-for-profit, all volunteer organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for persons with serious mental illness through support, education, advocacy and promotion of research. We are an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and National Alliance on Mental Illness – Michigan (NAMI-MI).
Alliance for The Mentally Ill of Oakland County (AMI) is dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life for persons, families and others, who are affected by mental illness, including children with serious emotional disorders, through support, education, advocacy and research.
AMI will accomplish this MISSION through the following objectives:
- Providing for family support and education
- Fostering public education concerning the causes and treatment of mental illness.
- Monitoring existing health care facilities, staff, and programming for quality institutional and non-institutional care, adequacy, and accountability.
- Promotion of community support programs, including appropriate living arrangements linked with supportive social, vocational rehabilitation, and employment programs.
- Promotion of new and remedial legislation.
- Support and advocate research into the causes, alternative modalities of treatment, and elimination of stigma toward mental illness.
- Delineation and enforcement of patient and family rights.
In 1979 four families met and shared their concerns about the problems they were experiencing in accessing information about mental illness and securing services for their relatives with mental illness. Families were living in isolation and were frequently blamed for the mental illness of their relatives. Available information was focused on “schizophrenogenic mothers” and dysfunctional families. Families were not valued as allies in treatment, nor were they given the information they needed to understand or cope with the problems their relatives were experiencing.
The four families that initially met were determined to make a difference. Families banding together could support each other and educate themselves about mental illness, treatment, and services. Together they could advocate for better services.
This handful of families organized and called itself Relatives of the Mentally Ill (ROMI). They advertised their meetings, contacted professionals and made their presence known in the community. Membership increased rapidly. They learned of a new national group, the National Alliance for The Mentally Ill, formed to advocate for persons with mental illness. In 1983, Relatives of the Mentally Ill joined the National Alliance for The Mentally Ill and changed their name to the Alliance for The Mentally Ill of Michigan (in 1987 the name was changed to AMI of Michigan—Oakland County, and in 1993 to AMI of Oakland County to reflect better the local character of the affiliate. By-laws were drafted along with articles of incorporation and they were filed April 1, 1983.
From 1979 to 1980 meetings were held in member’s homes. In 1981 they moved to a local church. In 1982 meetings were moved to the Mental Health Association Building. Meetings were moved to Beaumont Hospital in 1983, where they remained until 1991 when they were relocated to the Jewish Vocations Services Building in Southfield and they have since moved back to Beaumont Hospital.
In 1983 the monthly newsletter began. In 1984 a formal support group was established and it continues to meet each month. In 1984 the AMI post office box and telephone line were established.
Committees are the strength and energy of the organization. Their activities focus on diverse issues and involve the membership in education, support, and advocacy. Standing committees focus efforts in the areas of Support, Education, Fundraising, Budget, Hospitality, Housing, Legislative, Membership, Newsletter, Program, Publicity and Speakers Bureau. From time to time ad-hoc committees have been established to deal with special issues.
Today, more than ever, advocacy organizations such as AMI are critically needed. Those affected in any way by mental illness that need services are typically underserved or not served at all.