NAMI SARASOTA & MANATEE COUNTIES ON FIGHTING THE STIGMA OF RACISM
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Sarasota & Manatee Counties, is one of more than 600 local affiliates and grassroots mental health organizations in 48 states dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI Sarasota-Manatee envisions our community to be one where anyone with mental illness can recover and lead a productive life without stigma. To accomplish this, we work to improve the lives of individuals with mental illness, their families and caregivers, through support, education, awareness and advocacy.
We know there are few families untouched by mental illness. We are also aware black and brown populations are at higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers, such as disparities in healthcare, educational, social and economic resources.
NAMI Sarasota–Manatee recognizes the urgent need to confront and combat racism. While much work remains, we continuously strive to break down barriers. We understand that compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidotes to stigma of any kind.
NAMI Sarasota–Manatee is in support of police de-escalation policies for law enforcement officers and support the implementation and use of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training, a 40-hour evidence-based instruction for law enforcement. This training is provided through a community partnership of law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, individuals who live with mental illness and/or addiction disorders, their families, and other advocates. During this training, officers learn how to respond to individuals in crisis and are given resources to assist individuals with mental illness and/or addiction. The CIT Model is proven to reduce both stigma and the need for further involvement with the criminal justice system.
Locally, CIT is facilitated by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Over the last 17 years more than 900 Sarasota County officers representing the regions police departments and the sheriff’s office have received this training. Manatee County has also provided this invaluable training to its law enforcement personnel. These first responders are able to respond to persons in crisis with compassion throughout our community.
NAMI Sarasota–Manatee cares about those who are disenfranchised, and we offer free empathy-based resources that assist in reducing the stigma of mental illness. We understand that comprehensive systemic change is critical to leveling the playing field for all those who are disadvantaged and stand in solidarity with all those impacted.
The following resources describe what NAMI offers locally, NAMI’s position on racism and inequality, and the work of CIT International.