Frequently Asked Questions
|Please review our list of Frequently Asked Questions below for answers to common questions and concerns. If you do not find the answer to your question, please contact us.
1. I am in crisis. I’m thinking about suicide. Where can I go for help?
If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, family crisis, or having suicidal thoughts, talking to someone may help. The National HopeLine Network has trained counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Don’t wait. Call Now! 1 (800) SUICIDE (784-2433)
If you or someone you know is a danger to themselves or others, please call 911. Many law enforcement agencies have officers who have been trained to respond to persons who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis.
2. What does the NAMI acronym stand for?
NAMI was founded in 1979 as the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “NAMI” was officially made our corporate name in 1997, after a vote of the membership. This was done after years of discussion that the full name was not person-first language and perpetuated the very stigma we hope to erase.
3. Where can I find a support group in my area? Do you have support groups for specific diagnoses?
NAMI Texas currently offers the following online support groups: NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group for individuals with a mental health condition, the Family Support Group for family, partners, friends and significant others of a loved one with a mental health condition, and the Family Support Group for Parents. View details at https://namitexas.org/online-programming/.
You can also contact your local NAMI affiliate to inquire about their support group options. Find your nearest NAMI affiliate group.
NAMI has Online Discussion Groups organized by topic (including specific mental health conditions) where you can find support, share knowledge, ask questions and meet people who’ve been there.
4. I cannot afford my medication/doctor’s fees. Where can I go for financial assistance?
Your community mental health care center may offer medication and mental health care services on a sliding scale basis. To learn more about the services available, contact your local mental health authority (organized by county).
Some pharmaceutical companies offer prescription assistance programs for low income individuals and families. These programs typically require a doctor’s consent and proof of financial status. They may also require that you either have no health insurance or no prescription drug benefit through your health insurance. Read more at www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/Getting-Help-Paying-for-Medications.
5. Will this medication work better than the one I’m on? Is the combination of medications my doctor prescribed right? Is my dosage too high?
NAMI’s work focuses on support, education, and advocacy. We are not a medical facility nor are we qualified to give medical advice about treatment or medication. Please contact your pharmacist, doctor or mental health care professional for guidance on the correct treatment of your specific situation.
6. What are some resources for parents of children living with a mental health condition?
NAMI Basics is an education program for parents, caregivers and other family who provide care for youth (ages 22 and younger) who are experiencing mental health symptoms. This program is free, guided by parents and family members with lived experience, and available both in person and online 24/7 through NAMI Basics OnDemand. By participating in NAMI Basics, you’ll find support and shared understanding from people who truly get your situation.
NAMI Texas has no-cost online support groups for families of individuals living with mental illness at www.namitexas.org/online-programming/. You can also contact your local NAMI affiliate to inquire about their programming.
NAMI has Online Discussion Groups organized by topic where you can find support, share knowledge, ask questions and meet people who’ve been there.
Navigate Life Texas provides resources so that Texas families and parents can find the resources and services they need to support children with disabilities or health care needs.
7. I am not being treated fairly because I have a mental health condition. What can I do?
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, state and local government activities, public accommodations, public transportation, telecommunications, and public services. Read about protection against discrimination, requesting an extended leave of absence, accommodations at work, and filing a complaint at www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Individuals-with-Mental-Illness/Succeeding-at-Work.
Disability Rights Texas has resources listed on their website to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law.
8. My friend or family member is in jail due to his/her mental illness. How can we help?
If your family member or friend calls you and says that they have been arrested, help them stay calm and offer your support. If this person is being held in a city jail, remind them of the right to have an attorney present if being questioned by police officers or detectives.
They will be screened for mental illness, as well as other health concerns, upon arrival. It is very important that they be direct and honest to benefit from this screening process. Assure your family member that it is OK to discuss their physical and mental condition, diagnosis, medications, etc., with the staff conducting the screening, which includes Sheriff’s nursing staff and Jail Mental Health Service staff.
Your family member has a right to treatment while in jail. Telling the sheriff, the jail nurse, the jail doctor, the lawyer and/or the judge that your family member needs medicine and what types of medicine are being taken may get results more quickly.
If you are in need of a lawyer, the Texas Bar has a Lawyer Referral & Information Service to connect individuals to a lawyer or other resource that matches legal needs and financial means.
Here are some guides that may be of help:
Texas Appleseed has produced a handbook to help persons with mental illness and their families more easily navigate the criminal justice system https://www.texasappleseed.org/sites/default/files/14-Mentalhealth-DefendantHandbook.pdf.
The Texas Jail Project has guidance on how to file a complaint about a county jail.
Disability Rights Texas has guidance about complaint procedures in correctional facilities.
9. My friend/family member won’t follow recommended treatment. What can I do to make them follow through? Should I consider guardianship?
In the United States, noncompliance is not a crime and therefore medication or therapy is not enforceable except in the case of minors and those who are a danger to themselves or others.
According to A Texas Guide to Adult Guardianship from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, a guardian is required to ask for the court’s permission and approval for many of the actions he or she will take and cannot use force to make a ward take medication or place a ward in a mental health facility.
10. I am concerned about my loved one’s current behavior. What can I do? Can I have them treated involuntarily?
If you don’t believe there is an immediate danger, call a psychiatrist, clinic nurse, therapist, case manager or family physician that is familiar with the person’s history. This professional can help assess the situation and offer advice including obtaining an appointment or admitting the person to the hospital. If you can’t reach someone and the situation is worsening, consider calling your county mental health crisis team.
If the situation is life-threatening or if serious property damage is occurring, don’t hesitate to call 911 and ask for immediate assistance. When you call 911, tell them someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, explain the nature of the emergency, and ask the operator to send someone trained to work with people with mental illnesses such as a Crisis Intervention Training officer.
In a crisis, the recommendation may be a hospital stay. Voluntary admission is always preferable. Involuntary admission or commitment lasting for a period of up to 90 days may be recommended for someone who is experiencing extreme symptoms such as psychosis, being violent or suicidal or refuses the health care professional’s recommendation to go to a treatment facility.
If a person is having a mental health crisis and police are called to the scene, officers may take the person into custody if his behavior indicates severe emotional distress or deterioration of a mental condition and they believe the person presents a substantial risk of serious harm to himself or other people. Police officers may file an application for detention, documenting the signs of mental illness and elements of risk observed.
There are specific laws defining the criteria for involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility. This is a legal process that involves a judge and a hearing. Families are able to seek a mental health warrant through their county probate court. The warrant may be issued by a judge to obtain a medical assessment to determine whether a client needs court-ordered hospitalization. The warrant is carried out by law enforcement.
Emergency holds are another option in crisis situations and can be ordered by a physician to temporarily confine the person in a secure facility, such as a hospital. Emergency holds typically last for 72 hours. The purpose of the hold is to keep the person safe while deciding next steps. An emergency hold doesn’t necessarily initiate the involuntary commitment process. Read more in NAMI’s guide on navigating a mental health crisis https://www.nami.org/Support-Education/Publications-Reports/Guides/Navigating-a-Mental-Health-Crisis/Navigating-A-Mental-Health-Crisis.
For additional information, review the Texas Young Lawyers Association guide on involuntary commitment procedures.