Internship Location: Madison WI
Organization Type: Nonprofit
Policy Areas: Social Welfare/Mental Health/Nonprofit Management
This summer I interned at NAMI Wisconsin, the state organization for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. NAMI is a three-tiered non-profit organization, operating the national, state, and local level. As a state office, NAMI Wisconsin provides public education about mental illness, advocates to improve mental health care in Wisconsin, and supports the 28 local affiliates across the state. NAMI Wisconsin’s mission is to improve the quality of life of people affected by illness and to promote recovery. During my internship at NAMI Wisconsin, I focused on advocacy, communications, and event planning. The wide range of work done by NAMI allowed me to learn about policy up close and from a distance; while much of my work concerned policy directly, many of my other projects had legislative implications, whether it related to funding or the advancement of NAMI’s political interests. Much of my work consisted of creating resources about mental health and health policy, planning events to educate the public, and assisting with outreach to the community. Such projects included contacting police offices across Wisconsin to register officers for Crisis Intervention Training and creating a fact sheet for a neurological condition known as tardive dyskinesia. My advocacy work included creating blog posts about the organization’s legislative priorities, taking notes for the Public Policy and Advocacy meetings with board members and community stakeholders, and attending meetings hosted by the Wisconsin Council of Mental Health. NAMI Wisconsin also hosted a Q&A with Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod, for which I wrote many policy-focused questions after doing extensive research on her legislative background. During my internship with NAMI Wisconsin, I learned about mental illness, health policy and the role that non-profit organizations play in policymaking.