Mental Illness: A Family Resource Guide was written for and dedicated to families who have a relative with mental illness. The first edition, published in 1988, came about through the initiative of Yolanda Alvarado and other members of NAMI Michigan who saw the need to share what they knew with other families. The original manuscript was written by Carol Rees of NAMI Washtenaw County.

Many family members, individuals living with brain disorders and mental health professionals have contributed to revisions over the years with special thanks due to attorney Bradley Geller and Marjorie Hartnett for the section on voluntary and involuntary treatment and to Dr. Larry Alphs for reviewing and updating the manuscript in 2008. The booklet was made available online by NAMI Michigan in 2010. In 2012, Dr. Rachel Glick, Director and John Kettley, Clinical Director of Psychiatric Emergency Services at the University of Michigan Hospital reviewed and updated the text. This edition was made possible by The Broadway Foundation.