May is mental health awareness month and I am spreading the word about the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is a national organization with active local affiliates run by volunteers. Our local affiliate has been helpful to my own family in providing care and support to my brother who is living with bipolar disorder. I frequently recommend it to the families in my private practice.
A few months ago I learned about Psychiatric Advanced Directives (PAD) while attending an “Ed-Talk” at my local NAMI group. If you don’t know what a PAD is, you are not alone. It was new information for me too. A Psychiatric Advanced Directive is a plan for psychiatric emergencies that a person fills out when they are symptom free. This is particularly relevant to people living with chronic mental illness, and especially good to know for the family members who love them. The directive is filled out during a calm time when the person can consider with rational thought which hospital they prefer (and prefer to avoid), who they would like to advocate for their treatment, and what treatments they do and do not want.
PAD is a legal document that is recognized by hospitals in many states including Oklahoma. Copies can be made and distributed for easy access by the patient and their family and caregivers. When your loved one is psychotic, suicidal, or aggressive and confused in their thinking, this document takes the worry out of decision making.(click on the link above to download a form)
At that same meeting where I took copious notes, there was a campaign to tell 100 people about NAMI. Support Education Advocacy #SEANAMI Challenge accepted! I was one of the lucky winners (Pictured above receiving my “winner dinner” certificate from Eileen Moorefield, President of Edmond-OKC affiliate). The secret to my success was bringing fliers everywhere I went and asking people “Have you heard about NAMI?” It was actually very easy for me to talk about this organization- there is so much to love about NAMI.
Here are my top 5 things to love about the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
- NAMI offers FREE support: for families and caregivers, people living with a mental illness, and military families.
- NAMI is run by volunteers who are trained facilitators who have life experience in living and loving a family member with mental illness. The acceptance and compassion within this organization is palpable. All are welcome
- NAMI is an advocacy group. The state of Oklahoma is facing massive budget cuts which threaten access to services for our most vulnerable citizens. NAMI volunteers are persistent in expressing your concerns to our legislators.
- NAMI promotes education. Our local affiliate holds monthly “Ed-talks” which are always informative. I was thrilled to be a speaker for the past two years.
- NAMI walks, the main fundraiser, celebrates that “every mind matters” in a one day walk of support with music, food, and wonderful stories of hope.
I’m determined to continue the momentum of increasing awareness of this loving and lovable organization through social media. Would you like to help me? Please share this post with someone you know who can benefit from the information.
Here are some links to help you learn more:
NAMI Walks The Oklahoma NAMI Walk will take place June 3rd at the Myriad Gardens. You can attend for free to cheer on participants and consider volunteering or walking next year!
NAMI helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) Volunteers are available to answer questions about mental illness M-F from 10:00 to 6:00 Eastern Time