NAMI SWLA began in 1984 under the name of New Hope for Mental Health, Inc. The organization began as a result of family members looking for support in their community. Through the help of Lake Charles Mental Health Clinic, a support group was started. In 1992 New Hope found the Lafayette Alliance for the Mentally Ill who was affiliated with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. After discovering the benefits of being connected with a national organization, New Hope joined as an affiliate of NAMI and became Southwest Alliance for the Mentally Ill (SWAMI), Inc. In 1999, SWAMI adopted a name change to become NAMI of Southwest Louisiana, Inc. to be more uniform with the National Organization. Since the inception of NAMI, the NAMI SWLA membership has grown from 16 paid family members to over 200 with 2800 families on the local mailing list.
The NAMI SWLA office is located at 715 Ryan St. Suite 203 (second floor) in the United Way Building and is still a total volunteer organization.
- 2009 – Awarded the NAMI National Phillip and Sarah Francouer Award given to honor outstanding achievement in providing housing or other needed services to people with mental illness.
- 2007 – Applied for and received a HUD 811 housing grant for the chronically mentally ill. In October of 2007, the Maison D’ Amis apartments were opened. All 23 apartments are now occupied with a waiting list for openings. We are currently developing a plan for additional housing for the mentally ill.
- 2006 – Awarded NAMI National Outstanding Local Affiliate of the Year Award, given in recognition of exemplary work in advocacy, support, and education for people with mental illness and their families.
- 2005 – NAMI SWLA began developing and proceeded to implement the training and procedures for what is now Southwest Louisiana’s Crisis Intervention Team among local law enforcement agencies. The CIT training helps law officials better understand mental illness and learn crisis management techniques.
- 2003 – NAMI SWLA was selected as one of 16 pilot programs across the country to initiate the NAMIWalks for the Mind of America campaign, which is held annually by over 80 affiliates across the country.
- NAMI SWLA continues its mission of serving Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jeff Davis Parish families, through a wide range of monthly self-help support and education programs. All education classes offered are free to the public.
- Family to Family – a 12 week educational course for parents of adult children with mental illness in the spring and fall
- BASICS – a 6 week educational classes for parents of children and adolescent with a mental illness or behavioral disorder 3 times a year.
- We offer an 8 week class called Women and Depression 3 times a year. Call for dates and time.
- We will be offering an 8-week program, Peer to Peer Consumer Education courses, as needed.
- Circle Up – Faith-based Support Group once per week
- NAMI Connections – Lake Charles once per week
- We advocate our mission at conferences, health fairs and festivals, where we provide literature and educational materials to increase awareness about mental illness.