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National Institute on Drug Abuse -  NIDA NOTES
Volume 12, Number 1
January/February 1997

Science Brings Respect and Allies, Says NIDA Constituent

Using research and information dissemination to address public health issues is a core strategy that the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill shares with NIDA, NAMI's Executive Director Laurie Flynn told participants at NIDA's Constituent Conference last November. Flynn described NAMI's mission as providing information on severe mental illness and support for the rights of patients and families. During her keynote address, she explained how her organization has worked with the scientific community to educate policy makers, the media, and the public about mental illness.

Since its inception in 1979, the organization has used science to gain public acceptance of mental illness as "a medical and health priority, not a social problem-a disease, not a disgrace," she said. The Alliance uses science to clarify its message at congressional forums, at State and national meetings, and in its media outreach campaigns, Flynn said. "Being able to show the tremendous advances in understanding the workings of the brain has done more than anything to destigmatize mental illness," she said.

Flynn credited NAMI's success to its varied and active partnerships within the scientific community, as exemplified by her participation in the conference. NAMI also funds research and participates in clinical research, she said.

NAMI's focus on research has brought "respect, members and support, powerful allies, and hope," Flynn said. Science has allowed NAMI "to include in the public's picture of mental health the possibility of recovery."


NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn talks to NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner at NIDA's Constituent Conference.

From NIDA NOTES, January/February, 1997

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