by Olivia Atkins
One evening after coming home from class, I was so stressed out I just broke
down. It went on for hours and I could not pull myself together. I don’t know why
because nothing was seriously wrong. It wasn’t one specific thing that made me
upset either. Holding things in and not telling anyone how I was feeling built up
inside of me and one minor setback broke me. I would be fine one minute and then
break down the next. I still haven’t told anyone this happened until talking about it
now. It’s not because I’m embarrassed, I just thought that I would be putting my
problems onto someone else. I didn’t want to be anyone’s problem. However, I
shouldn’t have felt that way. I have a whole support system that I can lean on when
I’m struggling. Nobody should be afraid to reach out and ask for help or guidance.
More than half a million people suffer from mental health disorders each
year (1). One in five American adults is impacted or diagnosed at some point in
their life (1). About 50% of all mental health cases begin around the age of
fourteen and 75% by the age of twenty-four (1). Mental illnesses are on the rise in
the United States and are not slowing down (1). Men, women, and children are
susceptible to having some type of mental illness (1). We go on about our daily
lives and try to put on a smile for others around us (1). Deep down, we may be
struggling (1). People all over the world are stressed and dealing with inner battles
(1). These mental health conditions are caused by many different things, like
genetics, lifestyle, the environment, stress, past trauma, drugs, alcohol, and so
much more (1). Most people suffering from these examples blame themselves for
the way their life is (1).
There are many different organizations that are determined to improve the
overall health and wellbeing of individuals impacted by mental illnesses. An
organization that is trained to handle mental health crises is the National Alliance
on Mental Illnesses (NAMI) (1). NAMI is the nation’s largest mental health
organization that strives to improve the wellbeing of Americans impacted by
mental illnesses (1). They have established 650 NAMI state organizations and affiliations across the entire United States (1). They started off as a small group of families and have recently celebrated 40 years of helping others in need (1).
This organization has created several different programs for coping with
mental illnesses (1). NAMI Peer-to-Peer is a free, eight-session educational
program provided for adults affected by mental illnesses (4). These individuals get
the opportunity to further their understanding of conditions they may be impacted
by (4). This program is led by trained mental health leaders who have lived
through the experience of mental illnesses (4). They assemble discussions,
activities, and provide instructive videos about living with a mental illness (4). One
exception that NAMI doesn’t offer is recommendations for treatments (4). Their
main goal is to show that many people live with mental diseases and medication
isn’t always the best option (4). The Peer-to-Peer is extremely confidential and
gives everyone the same opportunities for growth and support (4). Individuals who
join this program will get to meet other people who can relate to experiences they
may be going through and learn about recovery in a safe, confidential space (4).
Participants can set goals for their future, gain confidence, make new relationships,
enhance communication skills, and become educated on ways of coping with a
mental illness (4).
NAMI also has free NAMI In Our Own Voice presentations that promote
healing and recovery from mental health conditions (2). These presentations are
led by individuals in the NAMI organization and strive to change attitudes,
assumptions, and misconceptions about individuals living with mental illnesses (2).
Trained presenters openly talk about how they have personally experienced mental
health illnesses and how they have learned to heal and find hope (3.) The
presentations are offered in 40-, 60-, or 90-minute sessions (3). They provide
participants the opportunity to ask questions and discuss interpreted stereotypes of
people with mental illnesses (3). Even if you don’t have a mental illness, these
presentations can benefit you by learning more about the life of someone who may
be struggling with one (3). They are appropriate for family members, friends,
mental health professionals, and individuals impacted by a mental health disease
(3). The presentations are offered to high schools, colleges and universities,
hospitals and clinics, communities of faith, and so many more (3).
If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to someone. It
is never too late to get the help you need. Taking a step back from reality to
destress is important for our well-being. I like to go on hikes and spend time with
friends and family who continuously support me and are there for me. Some things
work better for others and it’s important to find activities that work best for you. If
you know someone who is struggling with their mental health, let them know that
they are not alone, and you want to help them get better. Mental health resources
are available for anyone in need. There are organizations like NAMI that provide
free, educational resources for everyone. You can talk to your doctor or health
professional about a plan of action or call the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI
to get in touch with a trained, mental health expert. Struggles with mental health
affect every human being. Nobody is spared from mental health issues, but
everyone has a chance to get the help they need.
- Home: Nami: National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI.
- Nami in Our Own Voice. NAMI. https://www.nami.org/Support-
- Nami in Our Own Voice. NAMI Massachusetts. (2021, October 26).
- Nami Peer-to-Peer. NAMI. https://www.nami.org/Support-Education/Mental-