The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Southern Santa Barbara County (NAMI SSBCO) has a long history in our community having been founded in the early 1980s by a group of family members of persons living with mental health disorders, many of whom were associated with the Mental Wellness Center (MWC). MWC has a Santa Barbara history going back to the 1940s (first known as the Mental Hygiene Society, later as The Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County and since 2011 as The Mental Wellness Center

For most of its history, NAMI SSBCO has operated as a program under MWC’s 501c3 non-profit status, relying on MWC to provide NAMI’s business office, meeting space, staff and financial support as needed to implement NAMI SSBCO programs. In 2016, NAMI’s national headquarters began requiring all local affiliates to operate independently so our affiliate secured its own non-profit status, but continues to operate with MWC providing the same space, staff, program and financial supports.

Over the years, the relationship between these two important local organizations has been and continues to be very synergistic and greatly benefits both agencies and, more importantly, the people of the greater Santa Barbara Community. NAMI receives the logistical and financial benefits of this partnership while MWC benefits by having many NAMI members reinforce its strength providing advocacy, volunteers and potential MWC board members and volunteers. MWC also benefits by having a broader array of family services like NAMI’s signature Family to Family education program, support groups etc.  

It is important to also note that, NAMI and MWC continue to engage in joint fundraising activities which benefit both agencies in proportion to their financial needs. Donations to either organization benefits both and fundraising costs and labor are reduced.