The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) improves the quality of life for persons with mental disorders and their families through support, education, and advocacy. NAMI has been the local voice for mental health in Lane County for over 30 years. Jennifer MacLean, the Executive Director of NAMI Lane County, shared close, personal stories on the many problems and stigmas associated with mental illness as well as the avenues of support and education NAMI offers.
- Mental Illness includes depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety and many disorders.
- The brain is enormously complex and we only know a small fraction of how our brain works. For those with mental illness, what happens in their brain is even more complex because it is operating out of the “norm” – so that small understanding is even smaller for those with a mental health challenge.
- 1 in 4 Americans have a mental health challenge this year.
- Many mental health illness go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
- Negative stigma is often associated with mental illness.
- If you don’t like your doctor when dealing with mental health, find another one.
- There are NAMI affiliates all across the country. There are 17 in Oregon.
- free support groups and classes for peers and their families, friends, caregivers, etc.
- free resources on mental health
- “In Our Own Voice” presentations designed to raise awareness and erase stigmas
- referrals to other local agencies including warm hand-offs specialized to the individual
No one at NAMI is a psychologist. Everyone who works for NAMI is an advocate. There’s a huge network of volunteers. All services provided are free and NAMI raises money from grantors, members and donors. NAMI members pay $40 annually ($60 for a family) and receive updates and education about advocacy as well as access to local events.
Advocacy is the most important thing that each of us can do, helping to change the way others see mental illness. Talking about personal experiences are especially helpful.