The organization that we know today as NAMI San Antonio is the result of the efforts of a few courageous parent leaders, many families and individuals; friends and professionals that worked hard in 1991 to give birth to an organization that would completely change the way we view mental illness. During that time families dreamed of the day when a child with schizophrenia would be treated no differently than a child with another chronic illness like leukemia or mental retardation. They hoped for a time when mental illness could be discussed openly and their ill children and family members could be properly cared for in their own communities. We take this for granted today. Accomplishing these simple goals, however, would not be easy.
For NAMI San Antonio, it all began when Eve Oliphant placed a newspaper ad inviting people to her home who had concerns regarding their mentally ill family member. The meeting was organized by three parents: Tony Hoffman, Fran Hoffman and Eve Oliphant. These three founded and led the organization which they called: Parents of Adult Schizophrenics (PAS) from 1974 into the 1980′s. They were joined by many other parent-leaders, families, consumers and supporters over the years. Together, they started an organization that turned into a national movement to inform and educate the country about mental illness and advocate for the rights and care of mentally ill family members. It is an organization that has changed the way we think about, treat and care for mental illness forever.
Eventually PAS became a non-profit association and changed its name to Alliance for the Mentally Ill of San Mateo County. Later the name was changed to NAMI San Mateo County and by this time the Hoffmans had set up offices in Sacramento to lobby on behalf of the mentally ill and as founding members of CAMI (California Alliance on Mental Illness).
There are now three important levels of NAMI: local, state and national.
Since its inception in 1979, NAMI (National) has established itself as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in the NAMI’s mission have produced profound changes. NAMI has been the driving force behind a national investment in lifesaving research, parity for mental health care, increased housing and to ensure that treatments and services are available to those in need when they need them most. NAMI awareness efforts have successfully addressed the stigma of mental illness, ensuring the decrease of barriers to treatment and recovery. NAMI’s signature education programs have served as a beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of families and individuals.