40 Years of Hope and Change
In 2017, NAMI Minnesota celebrated its 40th Anniversary of providing education, support and advocacy. The organization took on the legislature for the first time in 1976 and incorporated in 1977. The small coalition of family members successfully lobbied for funds for community mental health programs in Minnesota and won $1.5 million for services.
In the intervening years, NAMI Minnesota has worked tirelessly to advocate for policies and funding to improve the lives of those living with mental illnesses and their families and to education families, providers, communities and more.
The organization has grown dramatically and now has more than 20 full and part-time staff, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters all working to reach over 160,000 people across the state annually.
NAMI Minnesota’s 40 City Tour
Over several months, NAMI Minnesota’s executive director, Sue Abderholden, gave 40 presentations in 40 cities on the history of the mental health system in Minnesota, the many positive changes NAMI Minnesota has helped create, and asked for input on unmet needs.
After the statewide tour Abderholden 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 I 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 revealed what most already knew—there is still work to be done.
In an article in MinnPost discussing the tour, Andy Steiner wrote:
“There still is a long list of entirely legitimate issues,” Abderholden said. “And in Greater Minnesota, some of the concerns around isolation and lack of access to mental health providers are particularly acute.” By the end of the tour, Abderholden said, she’d already assembled a new list of legislative priorities, many of which she is preparing to tackle in future legislative sessions.
The work continues.