On Saturday November 1 NAMI Walks Atlanta took place in Piedmont Park, in Atlanta, GA. Speak Away the Stigma formed a team and solicited donations. A BIG THANK YOU to Qiana Leonard, Futuera Patterson, & Tiffany Waits for walking with me and supporting an organization I support. We solicited donations, and I am proud to say that our team goal was $500.00, but we raised $615.00 from 23 generous supports! Please take a few minutes to read about why The National Alliance on Mental Illness (aka NAMI) is a great organization.
When I first got the courage to look up information on mental illness www.nami.org was one of the first websites I found. (I use the word courage because reading about what some mentally ill people go through on a daily basis isn’t easy, when a loved one is going through it) The NAMI website has information and statistics about many different illnesses. It is easy to read and understand, and is a great place to start learning about mental illness.
When I want to know what is going on with mental health advocacy, I can go to www.nami.org. No matter if it is a new piece of legislation, Criminal Justice and mental health, Mental Healthcare, and advocacy information by state, NAMI has information about it. There is a “You Are Not Alone” section that encourages individuals to share their story in hopes of inspiring others.
If you are someone living with a mental illness, a school or health professional or just someone who wants to learn more about mental health, NAMI has a group for you! The Family to Family class was the first time I was able to speak openly about having a family member with a mental ill and knew that my feelings were understood. I cried, I laughed, I learned, I met people I could openly talk about dealing w/my loved one without shame. Three things I took away from the NAMI Family to Family class: 1. That mental illness can affect ANYONE. The class had a former college president, whose mentally ill son had recently moved back home, a woman whose brother had been suffering from mental illness since she was a child and a grandmother whose grandson had just had his first episode. 2. That there is hope. One of the instructor’s daughters has schizophrenia, and she was in a period of recovery. She spoke to the class, and I couldn’t help but believe that anyone with a mental illness may be able to live an independent life with treatment and support. 3. The desire to do more. I have always wanted to give back to those in need. After this class and reading about mental illness, I know there is a need for more people to to educated on mental health and mental illness to help erase the stigma associated with it. There is also a need for funding for mental health care, and I want to somehow make a difference.
In addition to mental illness and mental health awareness, Speak Away the Stigma hopes to be able to help pay for medication or therapist visits for those who cannot afford to get help. One of my goals is to speak about shedding the shame I had, having a mentally ill family member, dealing with my own depression and taking care of myself before I attempt to take care of anyone else.