The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, does more than help those struggling with mental illnesses.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, does more than help those struggling with mental illnesses.
NAMI is a national organization that seeks to help those with mental illnesses, their friends and their associates. It also lobbies lawmakers to pass legislation to help those with mental illnesses be able to live good lives.
Roxie Treece, president of NAMI McPherson, said there are a lot of misconceptions of what mentally ill people look like. She said part of her mission is to correct those misconceptions.
“One in four people every year are touched by a mental illness, whether that’s a friend, family member or themselves,” Treece said. “Those are odds that most people don’t even realize.”
Treece said contrary to common belief, most people with mental illnesses can live out their lives without those around them knowing.
“Are they any different from common people? No,” Treece said. “The majority of people can fit into society and live a decent life if given the chance.”
For a period of her life, Treece struggled with PTSD and schizoaffective disorder. She said joining NAMI helped her take back control of her life.
However, Treece said she really got involved with NAMI after a mentally ill friend died.
“I promised her I would become an advocate for the mentally ill,” Treece said. “I feel like I’ve done that, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s millions of people, and they don’t have to face their mental illness alone.”
NAMI offers peer-to-peer and family-to-family education on mental illnesses. Peer-to-peer education focuses on helping mentally ill people understand their illness and learn to cope.
Treece said this is usually a long process of baby steps.
“Recovery isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s something you work for,” Treece said. “If you have someone who can’t even get out of bed in the morning, doing even simple tasks can seem like a milestone.”
Family-to-family education helps friends and family members of those with mental illnesses understand the illness and learn ways to help the person overcome it.
Treece said it’s really helpful for people to hear from those who have firsthand experience with mental illnesses. She said it could help people confront their own problems.
“Hearing firsthand from a person can sometimes open that door,” Treece said. “Many times, the stigma and discrimination keep people from stepping forward. With NAMI, you have that support.”
NAMI McPherson meets every second Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Edinburgh Manor, 120 Oak Park Drive, in the office community room. Treece said she tries to bring in speakers based on input from those that attend.
“I try to get ideas from participants on what interests them, and I try to find a speaker that matches,” Treece said. “There’s different people at each meeting, and we want to make it relevant to them.”
At the state and national level, NAMI raises awareness of mental illnesses and informs lawmakers of challenges facing the mentally ill.
“Our input helps them decide what issues are important,” Treece said.
Though her title is president, Treece said she’s an advocate first. March 13 is NAMI’s Advocacy Day, during which people will travel to Topeka to lobby lawmakers. Treece said she hopes a lot of people will come.
NAMI also will have a fundraiser luncheon on March 5.
Those interested in learning more about NAMI can contact Treece at or call 620-755-1405.