Improving the Lives of All Persons Impacted by Mental Illness

Collage of mental health words

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis county.


Episode 5: Improving the Lives of All Persons Impacted by Mental Illness

The March podcast was led by Jacki Hecht, RN, MSN, Managing Director of the AMEN program at the UT Austin School of Nursing and featured Karen Ranus, the first Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Central Texas. NAMI Central Texas, formerly NAMI Austin, was founded in 1984 and is a member of the largest grassroots mental health organization in the United States, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Through innovative education, support and advocacy programs, NAMI Central Austin is changing the way our community addresses mental health. 

“We serve the triad of people living with mental illness: the person with the condition, their family, friends and caregivers; and professionals including schools, nonprofits, law enforcement, faith communities and workplaces.” Karen Ranus

For 35 years, NAMI Central Texas has been dedicated to improving the lives of all persons impacted by mental illness with no-cost education, support and advocacy programs. NAMI Central Texas reaches more than 20,000 Central Texas individuals and families each year through educational workshops, support groups, service referrals, speaking engagements, trainings, community meetings and outreach, making it a vital resource when people need a place to turn.

NAMI Central Texas provides no-cost classes, support groups and education programs for people impacted by mental illness as well as their family, friends and other caregivers. Their programs address stigma reduction, suicide prevention and mental health advocacy.  NAMI Central Texas offers education programs for teens and young adults and training and education opportunities for schools, workplaces, faith communities and neighborhoods.

NAMI’s “Bridges to Hope” program is a 3-hour training specifically created for faith leaders. Because religion and spirituality often play a vital role in healing, it’s not uncommon for families and individuals experiencing mental health issues to turn to a faith leader first for help. Yet faith leaders, staff and key outreach volunteers are often lacking the information, education, and resources to be the “bridge to hope” needed as people navigate serious, sometimes life-threatening, mental health issues.

  • An informative overview of prevalent mental health myths and common symptoms of mental health disorders
  • Simple ideas for building “bridges to hope” for your faith community
  • A tool kit of community mental health resources
  • A tool for developing an action plan to address the needs in your community and optional post-training support

The next Bridges to Hope Workshop: Mental health training for leaders of faith communities is scheduled for Thursday, May 14, 2020 from 9:00 a.m.-noon at David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. Due to current gathering restrictions in Austin please check with NAMI Central Texas for updates about location and date.


Learn more about AMEN podcast and check out other episodes!

March 31, 2020