Message from Our Executive Director: July 2023

When I was on a recent Zoom call with NAMI National, I noticed the profile image NAMI’s Chief Information Officer used. See it here: an illustrated llama. I sent him a message telling him I liked his profile picture and he shared that he never misses an opportunity to highlight our national ambassador, the NAMI Llama.

The NAMI Llama?! This was news to me and it brought to mind the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist advocate for peace and freedom. Hmm. How appropriate. It all made me smile and I wanted to learn more.

It turns out that llamas have always been the unofficial mascot of NAMI because they are pack animals—they’re used to carrying heavy loads—and they’re compassionate. I also learned that llamas are even used as therapy animals around the world, helping treat people with dementia, children with special needs, and those living with mental health conditions. It is said that llamas have the ability to read people and they have a calming aura.

What an amazing creature and perfect fit for NAMI!

I love the idea that our community is made of NAMI llamas, supporting one another, lightening the burdens of others, and leading with compassion. It is what we do every day: finding ways to support one another and improve the lives of those living with and impacted by mental health conditions. (Have a story to share about a NAMI member being compassionate? Share it here.)

As many of you know, we have teamed up for events with our friends at the Big Heart Ranch in Malibu, a nature-based community wellness center and animal rescue sanctuary where people and animals awaken each other. Big Heart Ranch happens to have llamas in its community and I am certain I’ll be looking at them with kinship on my next visit.

To my fellow NAMI Llamas: thank you for all the wonderful work and contributions you make to improve the lives of community members. We are stronger together!

—Erin R. Ryan

(This post was in our July 2023 email newsletter. Are you signed up to receive our monthly newsletter? Sign up here!)