NAMI Lowcountry is Here to Help
What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. Today the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in communities across the US to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need. Our local affiliate is NAMI Lowcountry.
What is mental illness? The umbrella term, simply stated, is brain disorders that are biologically based mental problems. Untreated mental illness can lead to disturbances in thinking, feeling and relating. As a result, a person with these mental issues has a diminished capacity for dealing with the ordinary demands of life. Mental illness can affect persons of any age, background and economic level.
The mission of NAMI Lowcountry is to offer understanding to anyone concerned about mental illness and its treatment. The members and volunteers in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton, Colleton and Allendale counties are dedicated to improving the lives of those with mental illness, as well as their families. NAMI Lowcountry offers free classes for individuals with mental illness, their caregivers, the community and veterans. The support groups, led by trained facilitators, are open to everyone, members and non-members.
These groups provide a safe place for sharing, getting information and giving support. Specific meeting times and locations can be found on the website: wwwNAMIlowcountry.com.
How can our community help NAMI efforts? Join the organization, advocate, and/or volunteer. By Joining NAMI Lowcountry for a mere $40 annual fee (Individual membership), members receive support, education and advocacy. NAMI operates on donations, grants, and a small percentage of membership fees.
The organization’s largest fundraiser is its annual 5K Walk, which is being held on Saturday, October 21, 2017. This walk not only raises necessary funds to support the local organization, but also strives to increase public mental health awareness through a public display of support for people with mental health issues and challenges.
Last year’s walk was drowned out by Hurricane Matthew. With the funds of their largest fundraiser completely dampened in 2016, it is important this year’s event is a huge success. They are in hopes that the community will embrace the cause and come out in full force with support. Most everyone has had a loved one or dear friend suffer some sort of temporary or long-term mental illness, which can be as debilitating as any physical illness.
Mental illness remains a topic some still want to keep secret, even though millions of Americans suffer from various types and levels of mental illness. With depression, anxiety and suicide at an all time high, public awareness is changing how Americans view mental illness. Getting support is an instrumental way of coping with and recovering from mental disease for both the individual and his or her family. The good news is NAMI Lowcountry is here to help.
CLASS: The next NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program starts Thursday, September 7 from 6:30-9:00 p.m. at Grace Coastal Church in Okatie. This program is a 12-week course for caregivers of adults with mental illness. The curriculum focuses on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), clinical depression, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Illnesses, treatments, medications and challenges are covered in depth, as well as coping strategies for family members. Instructors are trained family volunteers. The class is free, but registration is required. Call the office at 843-681-2200, ext. 1# for more information and to register.