The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious mental illness and their families. Virtual Voices (VV) is an experiential workshop unique to NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore, and is one of the most popular outreach education programs offered.
The groundbreaking simulation was developed by Patricia E. Deegan, PhD, a well-known disability-rights advocate, psychologist and researcher. Workshop participants experience simulated auditory hallucinations via headphones while being assigned simple tasks. The goal of this workshop is for participants to challenge their perceptions, begin to understand the day-to-day challenges that people with mental illness face, and promote empathy in their interactions with individuals with mental illness. VV is presented to varied audiences including police, hospital staff, students, and mental health workers.
▪ Attend a Virtual Voices session as an observer, as well as a 2-hour training
▪ Experience in teaching or public speaking is helpful for Lead Facilitators but not required; however, volunteers must be comfortable speaking in front of groups.
▪ Volunteer Commitment: Volunteers are encouraged to assist with VV workshops at least twice in the year following completion of training. Workshops are typically 2.5 hours and held on weekdays during business hours.
▪ Minimum Age: 18 years old.
▪ The Lead Facilitator is a volunteer who conducts the workshop with support from 3-4 assistant volunteers.
▪ Work cooperatively with a small group of volunteers under the direction of the Lead Facilitator to set up and facilitate the workshop.
▪ The Lead Facilitator is responsible for overseeing the workshop from beginning to end which includes assigning volunteer roles at sessions, leading the sequence of course components, and moderating discussion.
▪ The assistant volunteers are assigned tasks for role playing such as Psychiatrist, Test Administrator, and Day Program Staff.