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A program for and by people with mental illness to promote education, empowerment, and recovery.
This program is made possible by funding from the NAMI Prince William affiliate of both the national NAMI organization and the NAMI Virginia state organization


In Our Own Voice (IOOV) is a unique public education program developed by NAMI, in which two trained consumer 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 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.

Barbara, Michelle and Tommy

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.

Presentation Request
(Click to request a presentation)


The facilitators are available to do one presentation per month. 30 minutes are required for set up. The program will last 60-90 minutes. It includes viewing a DVD, presentation by speakers, and audience participation. The audience will be asked to fill out evaluations at the end of the presentation. Audience feedback is important to us. It lets us know how we are doing and provides us with valuable information that helps us to obtain program funding.

Audio visual equipment is required; a laptop, a projector and a screen or blank wall. If you cannot provide the laptop and projector, please inform the presenters so they can bring them.

Philosophy of the Program:

IOOV is dedicated to the support, education, and growth of consumers as presenters. The personal educational component of the program helps people living with mental illness to grow and learn from one another. The power of IOOV is based on the sharing of journeys. When presenters share their stories of recovery, they offer hope, educate, open minds, and change attitudes. They also understand with better clarity the hope and possibilities for themselves and others.