Public Policy Platform 2012-2013

NAMI Wisconsin advocates for all people with mental illness and their families. NAMI strategically focuses on the most “serious mental illnesses” where the need is greatest. These include children and adults who have diagnoses that require services and support throughout their lives and significantly impair major life activities, interpersonally, vocationally, educationally, and in managing activities of daily living.

NAMI Wisconsin advocates for research and services for major illnesses that affect the brain.

NAMI requires that all NAMI documents and NAMI co-authored documents use language that puts people first. For example, "people or persons with serious mental illnesses" instead of "mentally ill people" or "the mentally ill"; and "offenders with serious mental illnesses" instead of "the criminally insane."

Stigma and Discrimination

NAMI condemns all acts of discrimination directed against persons with mental illnesses, whether by intent, ignorance, or insensitivity. Epithets, nicknames, jokes, advertisements, and slurs that refer to persons with serious mental illnesses in a stigmatizing way are cruel. NAMI considers acts of stigma to be discrimination.

NAMI believes, in accordance with current scientific evidence, that persons who are receiving appropriate treatment and services for a mental illness are no more violent than the population at large. NAMI deplores the portrayal in literature, films, and television of persons with serious mental illnesses as being prone to violence. These frequent depictions are hurtful stereotypes. The truth is that persons with serious mental illnesses are more often the victims of violence.

NAMI Wisconsin Public Policy Strategies

The Public Policy & Advocacy Committee is commissioned by and accountable to the Board of Directors of the organization to carry out NAMI Wisconsin’s commitment to be “The state’s voice on mental illness,” by: developing and formulating clear policies on mental health-related issues of importance to the consumers, family members and the public at large; ensuring the clear, prompt articulation of NAMI Wisconsin policies in appropriate venues; and ensuring that, to the maximum extent possible, the public in general is made aware of issues and concerns vital to consumers and family members.  It shall periodically review and recommend policies on important issues for approval by the Board.

  • The NAMI Wisconsin Public Policy and Advocacy Committee will review and update, as appropriate, the NAMI Wisconsin Public Policy Platform on an annual basis. Additions and amendments to the Public Policy Platform will be approved by the Board.
  • NAMI Wisconsin leaders will participate in partnerships and coalitions (local and statewide) with government, advocacy groups with common goals, and other stakeholders to improve access, coverage and quality of mental health care in Wisconsin.
  • NAMI Wisconsin will provide leadership in the planning, development, implementation, and financing of mental health treatment and substance abuse services integrated with primary care. Any model of integrated health care supported by NAMI WI must be comprehensive, adequately intensive, of high quality, accessible and well coordinated.
  • NAMI Wisconsin will work with affiliates to build relationships with legislative leaders (during legislative sessions as well as in recess) to advocate for revenue options for a public mental health delivery system that meets the needs of Wisconsin citizens with serious mental illnesses.
  • NAMI Wisconsin will train NAMI members to serve as effective public policy advocates for mental health including communication, public testimony, media presentations, and face to face meetings with legislators and policy makers.
  • NAMI Wisconsin will promote our message through multiple media methods and in collaboration with non-traditional partner groups such as faith based groups, law enforcement, primary care providers, educators, and business leaders to ensure that all groups understand our positions and are willing to join our cause.

2012-2013 Public Policy Focus

  • Expansion of Evidence Based Practices with particular attention to Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and Individual Placement & Support (IPS) Supported Employment.
  • Expansion of consumer and family involvement in review and oversight of treatment programs.
  • Initiation of Crisis Intervention Partner (CIP) training in Wisconsin Prisons
  • Exploration of CIP training in Wisconsin Jails

NAMI Wisconsin Position Statements

Community Outreach

Diversity and Inclusion 
NAMI WI supports inclusion of persons of different ages, and of varying cultures, racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, including persons who are deaf and hearing impaired, and those for whom English is not the primary language have unique characteristics that sometimes cause them to be partially or poorly served or excluded from existing treatment, training, and rehabilitation programs. These differences must be respected, embraced, and accorded appropriate representation in mental health care policy, administration, diagnosis, treatment, services, and support in provider and governmental organizations, as well as throughout the organization and operation of NAMI. NAMI WI supports expanded efforts toward recruitment and training of professionals from these groups, the development and distribution of culturally and linguistically appropriate materials for use in education, encouragement of their participation in programs and services, and outreach efforts targeted to these underserved and excluded groups.

Veterans, Service Members and their Families 
NAMI WI believes that persons with mental illnesses who are veterans, on active military duty, in the National Guard, or in the Reserves, as well as their families, should receive the same full range of integrated diagnosis, treatment services, and supports across a continuum of care as should be available to all people with serious mental illnesses.

Criminal Justice Advocacy

Partnerships at Every Level 
NAMI WI supports close collaboration between state and local mental health authorities and state and local correctional and law enforcement agencies to develop strategies and programs for compassionate intervention by law enforcement, jail diversion, treatment of individuals with serious mental illnesses who are incarcerated, as well as discharge planning and community reintegration services for individuals with serious mental illnesses released from correctional facilities.

Nurturing Education and Fighting Stigma
NAMI WI believes that education about serious mental illness at all levels of judicial and legal systems is crucial to the appropriate disposition of civil and criminal cases involving individuals living with serious mental illness. Judges, lawyers, other court personnel, police officers, correctional officers, parole and probation officers, other law enforcement personnel, and emergency medical transport and service personnel should be required to complete training about serious mental illness. Individuals living with serious mental illness and family members should be a part of this educational process and training should be consistent with available model standards for crisis intervention training.

Program Focus 
NAMI WI supports the constitutional right of inmates with severe mental illnesses to have access to humane and effective treatment for their mental illnesses while in correctional settings. NAMI supports a variety of approaches to diverting individuals from unnecessary incarceration into appropriate treatment, including pre-booking (police-based) diversion, post-booking (court-based) diversion, alternative sentencing programs, post-adjudication diversion, and conditional release to community treatment.


Accessibility and Ongoing Support 
NAMI WI supports access to a full array of psychiatric medication and medication prescription based on the clinical judgment of the prescriber in on-going consultation with the consumer. Medication prescription, management, and reimbursement policies should include regular screening and recommended lab work to monitor for side effects and metabolic changes in order to avoid adverse health consequences and additional health care costs.

Prescribing Privileges
NAMI WI does not endorse proposals to expand prescribing privileges to psychologists. NAMI WI acknowledges that serious shortages exist in the mental health professional workforce, particularly in public mental health systems and in rural and medically under-served regions of the state. However, there is no current evidence that expanding prescribing privileges to psychologists will address these shortages.

Quality of Care

Affordable and Accessible Care 
NAMI WI supports health care for all persons with mental illnesses that is affordable, nondiscriminatory, and includes coverage for the most effective and appropriate treatment. NAMI supports mandatory coverage and full parity for mental illnesses that is equal in scope and duration to coverage of other illnesses, without lifetime maximum-benefit caps and other limits more restrictive than those required for other illnesses or disorders, and covers all clinically effective treatments appropriate to the needs of individuals with mental illnesses.

Evidence Based Practices 
NAMI WI supports the provision of high quality evidence-based practices including Assertive Community Treatment, Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment, Supported Employment, and Illness Management & Recovery. Fidelity of any evidence-based practice must be monitored by outside evaluators to ensure expected outcomes and to achieve cost effectiveness.

Adequate Continuum of Care 
NAMI WI supports access to mental health services that are comprehensive, adequately intensive, of high quality, and span a continuum of care including community based treatment, inpatient psychiatric care and/or other acute inpatient alternatives, and crisis intervention services. Treatment, services, and supports should always be timely, easily accessible, and provided in the least restrictive environment. Peer support services should be available at all times and at all levels of care. Such a range ensures availability of the right services, in the right place and at the right time.

Program Monitoring and Accountability
NAMI WI supports systematic program review to include financial audit, quality review, and consumer and family satisfaction to ensure that expected outcomes are achieved, quality improvement occurs and services are cost effective. Results should be made public for use by decision makers, administrators and advocates.

Data Collection 
NAMI WI supports effective, efficient, and comprehensive data collection at the state level to accurately track service access, cost, utilization, performance and outcome measures, and geographic coverage. Reliable data is critical for informed decision-making and quality improvement.

State Financing

Provider Workforce 
NAMI WI supports adequate funding, including provider payments for community mental health services and supports in order to: attract and maintain a sufficient and well trained workforce of qualified providers to provide a broad array of science-based services to meet the needs of those individuals living with serious mental illnesses.

Family Member and Peer Programs
NAMI WI supports adequate state financing for family and peer support organizations to deliver family and peer education and support programs to help families and consumers deal more effectively with mental illness and promote recovery. Such education and support can eradicate stigma which contributes to a delay in seeking treatment. Through early intervention and access to treatment, deterioration and more costly interventions can be avoided.

System Coordination

Youth transition
NAMI WI supports a comprehensive array of treatment, services and supports that address prevention, early intervention, and recovery. This support should be available to children, adolescents and young adults living with mental illnesses and their families. These services should be available through publicly and privately funded service systems. They should promote resiliency and recovery and include evidence and research based interventions. There must be effective system coordination and collaboration between systems serving children, youth, young adults and their family.

Physical and Mental Health Care Coordination 
NAMI WI supports care coordination and integration of physical health care and mental health care of the priority populations, including children, adults and older adults with serious mental illness. We support co-location of services following the concept of medical homes only if adequately intensive psychiatric care and outreach are provided. This includes the option of locating a mental health expert/consultant in primary care settings as well as incorporating a primary care provider in mental health settings. Such coordination would ensure timely attention to health needs so that more costly services such as urgent care or emergency room care can be avoided.

Smoking Cessation 
NAMI WI supports consumers in seeking smoking and other tobacco use prevention, cessation and recovery as essential to overall wellness. NAMI calls upon physicians and other health care providers, in community and inpatient settings to implement educational and tobacco use cessation programs to help consumers stop and avoid tobacco addiction. Treatment and other facilities instituting smoke free policies must provide effective tobacco addiction treatment and support to consumers as well as health care providers, caregivers and others working in such facilities, who use tobacco products.

Treatment Planning

Person-Centered Training 
NAMI WI supports training for providers, family members and consumers in person/family centered strategies for inclusion of families and consumers in treatment planning and assessment, and in shared decision-making processes related to all aspects of treatment.

Consumer and Family Member Involvement 
NAMI WI supports active consumer and family involvement in planning, implementing and evaluating mental health services. Inclusion of all stakeholders often results in creative and innovative solutions and system improvements.