No Longer Alone Ministries (NLAM) began in 1991 when a group of people, weary of the silence and stigma surrounding mental illness, met due to their common concern for loved ones. That first meeting led to the formation of a Family Support Group (FSG), the first program of NLAM, of which Lowell and Ruth Detweiler were co-founders. This group meets the fourth Sunday of every month and is staffed by a Psychiatric Rehab Specialist and a Group Facilitator. In the first hour, an educational presentation is given. Following a break, the participants have time of sharing family concerns and receive support through sharing of mutual solutions and prayer.
NLAM offers two additional peer support groups. In 2002, Paths to Discovery was launched. This group is for consumer support and is led by a mental health professional. It is open to anyone who has mental health challenges. Each group has a topic related to wellness and coping. In 2007 the WRAP Reunion group was started for consumers who have developed their own WRAP workbooks.
In 1995, NLAM was officially incorporated as a nonprofit corporation, was approved by the IRS for 501(c)(3) status in 1996 and received initial funding from Friendship Foundation, Mennonite Mutual Aid, and Philhaven.
The Supported Living Program (SLP) began in 1996 to support the independent living needs of Family Support Group members’ loved ones. The SLP has since been replaced by REACH.
In 2007 REACH: Mobile Psychiatric Rehabilitation was introduced. This focused, action-oriented program works to meet the needs of adults with chronic, serious mental illness as they face the challenges of independent living in Lancaster City and County. Our clients benefit from an increased focus on wellness, establishing short-term goals and developing strategies. Clients enter the program voluntarily and meet regularly with staff to work on their recovery goals. Training and support is provided in independent living skills, illness-wellness management, vocational, educational and social arenas. The level of care is according to the client’s need which is evaluated by the team monthly. Seasonal events are planned for the participants in this program to enrich their social contacts. REACH has been licensed by the Department of Public Welfare since October, 2010. A seven-week group called Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) complements this approach and provides individuals with a wellness notebook which is personalized for each participant.
The Speakers’ Bureau provides educational information, which works to raise awareness and understanding of what mental illness is. Through presentations at churches, Sunday School classes, and civic groups, speakers are shedding light on an often neglected subject. NLAM has an expanding library with books, pamphlets, and videos available on loan from the office.
In 2001, NLAM became the sponsoring organization for Compeer Lancaster. This program matched trained volunteers with persons/friends experiencing mental illness. Compeer grew and transitioned to the new hosting agency, Mental Health America of Lancaster County in 2008.
The newest program of NLAM is Family Counseling, now known as The Healing Circle, which is designed to support and educate families who have a loved one with mental illness. With a diagnosis comes change, and family counseling can help the family deal with the stress and identify their strengths in moving ahead.
NLAM is a member of the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, a member of Mennonite Health Services, a fraternal member of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference of the Mennonite Church and a donor option choice of United Way. No Longer Alone Ministries is governed by a board of nine to fifteen members who meet six times each year. As part of the 2007-09 strategic plan, NLAM moved to 630 Janet Avenue, Lancaster, PA, on April 1, 2006. This move increased visibility and access to community resources.