Beginnings NAMI Southwestern Illinois
(Formerly NAMI Madison County and AMI Madison County)
Our affiliate started in 1985 through the efforts of workers at the local community mental health agency now known as Chestnut Health System. The Chestnut Health System workers saw that there was a need to put together an organization that included the consumer and caregivers of the consumer. This organization would be non-profit and serve as the focal point for advocacy, support and education on mental health issues.
In the beginning, two support groups would be organized in the metro-east area: one in Granite City, which met at the Northgate Industrial Business Park off Route 3 and the other, was located at the Wood River Hospital. These support groups were called Alliance for the Mentally Ill (AMI). Sometime around 1998 the two local affiliates would join together which created the affiliate National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Madison County.
One of the earlier affiliate presidents, the late Susan Kniffel, was outstanding in fighting for the principles of our local affiliate and defending consumer rights. She has an annual recognition award carrying her name, which is the Susan Kniffel Achievement Award.
Growth & Expansion
Up until around early 2001, our support group and business meetings where held as a combined nightly meeting once a month. However, the need became evident caused by our ever-increasing growth in meeting attendance and NAMI membership for the meeting to be split to two separate days each month, one for support and one for business.
In 2003, the affiliate joined with NAMI St. Louis as a partner in a walk for promoting the awareness of mental health issues. From the year 2004 and forward our local affiliate has produced its own Annual Walk for Mental Health Awareness. The annual walk not only promotes awareness, it also raises money, which helps to cover some of the annual expenses of our local affiliate.
Gateway Regional Medical Center has always worked with our affiliate to help ensure that consumers who are admitted and released from their facility receive the best possible care and treatment and promote NAMI to their consumers, family members as well as employees. Additionally, since 2004 Gateway Regional Medical Center has donated office space on their fourth floor, which our affiliate uses for its daily operations.
Starting in 2010 our affiliate experienced two major changes. First, the Belleville NAMI affiliate agreed to merge with our affiliate, NAMI Madison County. As part of the merger, it was decided to change our affiliate’s name to more accurately describe the area that we serve, which now includes the following 6 counties. Bond, Clinton, Macoupin, Madison, Randolph, and St Clair.
With that in mind, our affiliate’s name was officially changed to NAMI Southwestern Illinois.
There are many individuals in the community that give their time and talents to help further the principles of NAMI Southwestern Illinois. To all of them we are very grateful for their efforts.