Improving the lives of families and individuals in NYC affected by mental illness requires our government to be champions for legislation that impacts the mental health system.

We believe that’s worth fighting for.

When we bring the perspective of the family AND the person living with mental illness directly to policymakers, we educate elected officials to prioritize policy decisions that ensure quality services, and enhance recovery for the mental health community in New York.

Apply to our Advocacy Ambassador program

Join the fight for better mental health services in NYC and share your story with elected officials! The NAMI-NYC Advocacy Ambassador program provides families and individuals impacted by mental illness with the skills and training needed to meet with elected officials and create change in their communities.

Read more about our Advocacy Ambassador program here

Ready to start? Please complete this Advocacy Ambassador application, and a staff member will contact you.

NAMI-NYC Policy Priorities

Increasing Access to Healthcare

NAMI-NYC is firmly committed to enacting policies that increase access to mental health services, and improve the quality of those services.

We believe in a person-centered approach to healthcare to assist people living with mental illness. Integral to the goal of person-centered healthcare is the ability for people living with a mental illness to access the most appropriate treatments to advance their specific recovery. Healthcare projects NAMI-NYC supports include:

• New York Health Act

• Improving the Psych ER Experience for Patients

• Expansions to Telehealth

• Mental Health Equity


NAMI-NYC supports integrating mental health education into our educational system so we can increase understanding about mental illness, and give students and educators the tools needed to support themselves and their peers with mental health challenges.

Education is a critical instrument in fighting mental health stigma and creating healthier communities. Education projects NAMI-NYC supports include:

• Supporting Continuing Education in Mental Health

Decriminalizing Mental Illness

NAMI-NYC is dedicated to working with families and communities to enact policies that divert people living with a mental illness from the criminal legal system and towards recovery.

Further, we support improving our criminal legal system and the movement towards decarceration, to help ensure the best outcomes for people living with a mental illness who enter or exit the system. Some ways NAMI-NYC supports decriminalizing mental illness include:

• Effective Implementation of a 988 Number

• #CAHOOTSinNYC (Non-Police Crisis Response)

• Crisis Respite Centers

• Mental Health Courts

• Enforcement of the H.A.L.T. Act

Supportive Housing

• Transparency & Accountability

• Increased Funding & Access

• Improving Quality

• Know Your Rights

Substance Use Disorder / Dual Diagnosis

• Parity for Mental Health & Substance Use Disorders

Have questions? Email our manager of public policy and advocacy.

October 6, 2021

Improving Psychiatric Care in NYC Hospital Emergency Rooms

In 2019, a coalition led by NAMI-NYC and Manhattan Together conducted surveys of patients and their family members who had received psychiatric treatment in New York City hospital emergency rooms.

Find out what these patients and their family members say about the emergency room experience, and what they would like to see done to improve the quality of care.

Improving Psychiatric Care in NYC Hospital Emergency Rooms

Watch the replay

May 26, 2021

Decriminalizing Mental Illness – An Urgent Issue Briefing

Panelists discuss the root causes of the over-criminalization of people living with mental illness, especially Black and brown individuals. We delve into the issues of broken windows policing around the city and within NYCHA housing, bias and discrimination in non-peers responding to crises calls, the mental health care infrastructure needed to respond to crises calls around the city, as well as other crucial topics regarding mental health and decriminalization.

Decriminalizing Mental Illness - An Urgent Issue Briefing

Watch the replay

Real stories from real people make real change.

NAMI-NYC is dedicated to making sure elected officials and other decision makers hear directly from families and individuals impacted by mental illness.

We are collecting stories of people’s experiences visiting the psych ER or being admitted into psychiatric hospitals around NYC. Click here to share with us.