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Support for Individuals with a Mental Health Diagnosis

Peer-to-Peer classes give support to individuals with a mental health diagnosis.

NAMI Peer-to-Peer

What is the NAMI Peer-to-Peer Program?

Peer-to-Peer is a unique, experiential learning program for people with any serious mental illness who are interested in establishing and maintaining their wellness and recovery.

The course was written by Kathryn Cohan McNulty, a person with a psychiatric disability who is also a former provider and manager in the mental health field and a longtime mutual support group member and facilitator.

An advisory board comprised of NAMI consumer members, in consultation with Joyce Burland, Ph.D., author of the successful NAMI Family-to-Family Education program, helped guide the curriculum’s development.

Since 2005, the NAMI Peer-to-Peer Recovery Program has been supported by AstraZeneca.

NAMI SMC offers Peer to Peer classes 3 – 4 times a year. Click here to see the flyer. 


NAMI Peer-to-Peer helps you:

  • Create a personalized relapse prevention plan
  • Learn how to interact with health care providers
  • Develop confidence for making decisions and reducing stress
  • Stay up-to-date on mental health research
  • Understand the impact of symptoms on your life
  • Access practical resources on how to maintain your journey toward recovery

Become a Peer to Peer co-teacher/Mentor:

Peer to Peer co-teachers/mentors are trained in an intensive three day training session and are supplied with teaching manuals. Participants come away from the course with a binder of hand-out materials, as well as many other tangible resources: an advance directive; a “relapse prevention plan” to help identify tell-tale feelings, thoughts, behavior, or events that may warn of impending relapse and to organize for intervention; mindfulness exercises to help focus and calm thinking; and survival skills for working with providers and the general public. All prospective co-teachers/Mentors are asked to take the class, and are recommended by their co-teacher.


This program, developed by NAMI Santa Clara County, matches PALS, or mentors, with individuals who can use the support of someone who has “been there.” Because PALS share the experience of mental illness in common with their peers, they are in a unique position to relate with and understand their peer’s experience.

PALS help individuals who are isolated with little or no contact with persons outside their home and help empower them to develop the tools, strategies and techniques to aid their recovery.  To be considered for a Peer Pal position please email:

Download a Peer Application!
Download a Pal Application!




Once matched, Peer PALS will connect by phone, in person and/or virtually up to 4 hours a week. Additionally, PALS receive ongoing training and support from a licensed and practicing counselor who serves as an advisor. Matches last for up to 6 months, and PALS are paid for their part-time work.

Peers are individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition or someone who is in the process of seeking mental health support. A peer must be currently receiving treatments from their mental health professionals or is open to receiving treatments. Peers must be 18 years of age or older to apply for this free program.

NAMI SCC’s Peer PALS program was featured in a five minute segment on Channel 2 News. and in San Jose Mercury News Wish Book.

For more information about NAMI Peer PALS call NAMI San Mateo County, 650-638-0800 or contact us by email at

We can’t wait to support more Peers on their journey to wellness and recovery!

NAMI In-Our-Own-Voice

NAMI SMC also offers In Our Own Voice Presentations. To schedule a presentation, please click on the button below.

What is IOOV?

The In Our Own Voice program and its impact on participant’s lives… in their own voice.

In Our Own Voice (IOOV) is a unique public education program developed by NAMI, in which two trained individual speakers share compelling personal stories about living with mental illness and achieving recovery.

The program was started with a grant from Eli Lily and Company.

IOOV is an opportunity for those who have struggled with mental illness to gain confidence and to share their individual experiences of recovery and transformation.

Throughout the IOOV presentation, audience members are encouraged to offer feedback and ask questions. Audience participation is an important aspect of IOOV because the more audience members become involved, the closer they come to understanding what it is like to live with a mental illness and stay in recovery.

IOOV presentations are given to hospital psychiatric in-patient units, business and consumer groups, students, law enforcement officials, educators, providers, faith community members, politicians, professionals, inmates, and interested civic groups.

All presentations are offered free of charge and upon request.


The goals of IOOV are to meet the need for consumer- run initiatives, to set a standard for quality education about mental illness from those who have been there, to offer genuine work opportunities, to encourage self-confidence and self-esteem in presenters, and to focus on recovery and the message of hope.

Anyone familiar with mental illness knows that recovery is not a singular event, but a multi-dimensional, multi-linear journey characterized more by the mindset of the one taking it than by his or her condition at any given moment along the way.

Understanding recovery as having several dimensions makes its uneven course easier to accept. Much as we don’t blame the cancer patient for dying of invasive tumors, we can’t condemn a consumer whose symptoms overtake his or her best efforts to manage illness.

Recovery is the point in someone’s illness in which the illness is no longer the first and foremost part of his or her life, no longer the essence of all his or her existence.

Ultimately, recovery is about attitude and making the effort.

For more information on NAMI In Our Own Voice Presentations please visit:  IOOV