NAMI Washington County was established over 20 years ago as a grassroots organization dedicated to helping those affected by mental illness. Our affiliate was developed by an active group of peers and their loved ones who wanted to bring peer support, recovery, and education to our community. Together, peers and family members developed programming which today is still recognized as one of nine State of Wisconsin Peer Recovery Centers. The NAMI Washington County Welcome Center offers peer run activity and support groups to support living healthy in recovery with a mental illness.
NAMI Washington County is a volunteer organization; our members have a passion to advocate for improved mental health care and supports. We fight against the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses. If you or a loved one is suffering, know that you are not alone, we are here to help.
What We Do
Using a variety of methods, NAMI Washington County provides mental health education, support, advocacy and awareness. Led by trained peers and volunteers, programs are designed to strengthen recovery, build resiliency, and support overall well-being, so individuals with mental illness and those caring for them can live their best lives.
NAMI WC’s program menu is divided into two categories. The first category is Welcome Center Programming. These programs are offered at the NAMI WC facility located on South 17th Avenue in West Bend. Peer-led, these programs are for individuals living with a mental illness.
The second category is Community Education. These programs are taught or led by individuals who are taking care of someone with a mental illness. Community programs may be offered at the Welcome Center or at other venues throughout Washington County.
Welcome Center Programming
The Welcome Center is one of eleven peer recovery centers in the State of Wisconsin. The center is a resource for community-based peer support. The peer support program framework encourages input from people who are living with a wide range of mental illnesses; provides a chance to support those with mental illness with compassion, new ideas, and empathy. It also allows individuals with mental illness to learn from those with like-experiences about new strategies for illness management, and other community resources that an individual may not have accessed to help them in their recovery.
Opened in 2001, the Welcome Center is crucial to the mental and physical well-being of Washington County residents. The center provides a variety of programming designed to strengthen education, develop coping skills, teach independent life skills, make referrals to community resources, and grow vital support networks. This center is a lifeline for many individuals with mental illness as it offers a safe space for recovery, and increased opportunities for independence rather than a service-dependent lifestyle. Program participation leads to increased independence and productivity as well as reduced tendencies of isolation, depression, addiction, and self-harm or suicidality.
The audience for community education varies depending on the curriculum of the program. Each year NAMI WC reaches over 1,800 middle school and high school students with the NAMI Ending the Silence Education Program. Presented in all the middle school and high school health classes throughout Washington County, this evidence-based program brings awareness, education, community resources, and information to students about mental health, suicide and how to help someone. NAMI WC also offers a weekly teen support group at Germantown High School, West Bend High Schools, and at the NAMI Washington County Welcome Center, as well as two teen art therapy groups. Led by trained adult facilitators and a credentialed art therapist, guided peer discussions help build support networks, talk about everyday life, address peer concerns, strengthen interpersonal skills, or teach the elements of healthy relationships and communication. In addition, teens gain insight into themselves, build their self-esteem, and gain crucial coping methods for maintaining their mental health.
NAMI WC also provides education for those taking care of someone with a mental illness. These educational classes are taught virtually, at the NAMI WC Welcome Center or at other facilities in the county. The NAMI Family-to-Family class is eight weeks long. This class provides an in-depth look at many elements of mental illness. Through a variety of interactive exercises, class participants gain empathy, increase knowledge, learn new techniques for problem-solving, strengthen active listening skills, and learn new crisis management techniques.
Similar to the NAMI Family-to-Family Class, NAMI Family & Friends offers information to those taking care of or involved with someone who has a mental illness. NAMI Family & Friends is a 90-minute session. Participants learn about diagnosis and recovery, effective communication strategies, the importance of self-care, and community resources available to help their loved one, as well as to gain support for themselves.
In partnership with these educational opportunities, NAMI WC offers a support group for parents and caregivers for those living with mental illness. Peer-led this support group helps parent and caregivers gain insight from challenges and successes, gain hope for the future, and develop supportive relationships. This group is a place where voice is heard and provides an opportunity for personal needs to be met. The group encourages empathy, productive discussion, and a sense of community.
Additional community education offerings include Hope Connections, a support group for adults who have suffered a loss to suicide, Question, Persuade, Respond (QPR) Suicide Prevention Training, designed to teach professionals and community members the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond, and Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law enforcement officers throughout Washington County. CIT creates connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services and individuals with mental illness and their families. Through collaborative community partnerships and intensive training, CIT improves communication, identifies mental health resources for those in crisis and ensures officer and community safety.
Board of Directors
Executive Director: Lisa Krenke