NAMI San Diego Friends in the LobbyFriends in the Lobby offers smiles, compassion, information, and hope to visitors seeing their loved ones in behavioral health or psychiatric units of San Diego area hospitals.

It can be extremely stressful and traumatic to have a loved one in a hospital for a behavioral health emergency. To ease this stress and promote mental wellness, mental health education and support, NAMI San Diego has created an innovative program named Friends in the Lobby (FIL).

Friends in the Lobby’s mission is to provide outreach and engage individuals visiting their loved ones in local hospitals. Trained NAMI San Diego FIL Volunteers have a designated space in the lobby area of hospitals during visitation hours where they provide visitors with information on NAMI and other local mental health resources.

Most FIL Volunteers have lived experience in the mental health system and know just how stressful and traumatic these experiences can be. By offering smiles, compassion, information and hope, visitors are introduced to valuable resources and supports that provide much needed relief in these stressful times.

NAMI San Diego Friends in the LobbyNAMI San Diego services we promote include the Family-to-Family Education Course, monthly Education and Advocacy meetings, a multitude of support groups located around the county, our free Family and Peer Support Helpline, plus local events and resource. We also include information on other behavioral health support such as the Access and Crisis phone line and various recovery focused programs throughout San Diego.

Through Friends in the Lobby, NAMI San Diego proudly partners with Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, UCSD Medical Center, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Bayview Behavioral Health Campus, Alvarado Parkway Institute, Palomar Medical Center, Tri-City Hospital, Crestwood Behavioral Health, and the VA Medical Center La Jolla.

Friends in the Lobby looks at outcomes and data to ensure positive engagement with hospital visitors.
Over 2,000 individuals were connected with between July 2014 and June 2015.


  • Alvarado Parkway Institute, 7050 Parkway Dr, La Mesa, CA 91942
  • Bayview (Paradise Valley Hospital), 330 Moss Street, Chula Vista, CA
  • Crestwood, 5550 University Avenue, Suite A, San Diego, CA 92105
  • Palomar, Behavioral Health & Geropsychiatric Unit, 555 E Valley Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92025
  • Scripps Mercy, 4077 5th Ave, San Diego, CA
  • Sharp Mesa Vista, 7850 Vista Hill Ave, San Diego, CA
  • Tri City Medical Center, 4002 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA 92056
  • UCSD Medical Center, 200 West Arbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92103
  • VA Medical Center, 3350 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA 92161
2016 will see the expansion of Friends in the Lobby by providing services and support for families by positioning NAMI San Diego Friends in the Lobby Volunteers within San Diego hospital Emergency Departments.
NAMI San Diego Friends in the Lobby
For those interested in volunteering with Friends in the Lobby, the first step is to attend a Volunteer Information Session. Following this, an individual interview and FIL training takes place before a new volunteer is placed as one of the 9 area hospitals. FIL shifts last about 2 hours, are completed in teams of 2 volunteers. Individuals can volunteer from 2-8 times per month. A six month commitment is requested of all FIL Volunteers.