The National Alliance on Mental Illness, otherwise known as NAMI, is a well known grass roots type of organization that is dedicated to assisting teens and adults who have a mental illness. What’s great about the organization is that it is both national and local. In other words, there is a national presence as well as many local offices which parents and teens can utilize.
NAMI began in 1979 when a group of families concerned about their loved ones with mental illness gathered around a kitchen table. Today, they have hundreds of local offices, state organizations, and millions of volunteers who work to raise awareness and provide support to those who need it.
One of the most important gifts that NAMI brings to a community is education. There remains a great lack of knowledge about mental illness, which keeps teens and adults in the dark about what depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses can do to a person. Typically, when someone doesn’t understand something, it’s common to judge it or to be afraid of it and keep their distance. It’s for this reason that NAMI is working hard to bring a wealth of education about mental illnesses to local communities.
Another essential role that NAMI plays in the community is advocacy. In other words, it works hard to advocate for teens and adults who have been affected negatively by mental illness. There are thousands of grassroots volunteer leaders with resources and skills to work to make changes throughout the 50 states. For instance, NAMI has helped to change public policy surrounding the way those with mental illness are treated. Another example of the way NAMI might advocate for teens is by working towards having mental health screenings in local schools so that mental illness can be detected and treated early.
In addition to educating and advocating, NAMI also provides resources for teens and adults with mental illness. For instance, NAMI has secure, toll free Help Lines that any can call if they are struggling with symptoms of mental illness. The Help Line can also be used as a way to receive referrals and information for specific circumstances having to do with mental health.
Another unique resource that NAMI supports is one that is specifically designed for teens. Ok2Talk is a place to go when a teen feels they need support or assistance with an emotional or psychological problem. It’s a place for teens to speak out about their experiences and to connect with others who are going through similar circumstances.
If your teen is struggling with a mental illness, you might want to use the resources that NAMI provides. Mental illness among teens is more common than a parent might think. Because of the many changes that a teen goes through during adolescence, he or she may be more vulnerable to developing a mental illness. For this reason, it’s important that parents and caregivers of teens know the resources that are available to them and their children.