Our program featured Maggie Murphy who is the Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is the largest grass-roots organization that is focused on mental health. Their mission is to provide education, support, and hope for individuals living with mental illness and their families. Weekly support group meetings allow attendees to share and benefit from the experiences of others. All sessions are facilitated by people who have lived though a mental health experience.
The problem is not uncommon as 25% of people experience some form of mental illness. Anxiety and depression cases rose dramatically during the COVID time. Many issues go undiagnosed. The primary reason people don’t seek help is the stigma attached to the idea of being “crazy”. People don’t want to be seen going to treatment. People don’t want to be labeled. There is a huge range of illness. Some issues are once and done. Others are chronic. Most people are somewhere in the middle ground.
One size fits all does not work when it comes to treatment. Indications that someone may need help include when symptoms interfere with daily living; when people don’t enjoy usual hobbies and interests, discussion or action of harming themselves or others. The best way to help someone facing these issues is to listen in a non-judgmental way. Do not point out the good things in their life as it has the effect of shaming. Do not try and tell them you know just how they feel. Instead you can validate by saying it must be very difficult to feel that way.
Finding the proper treatment can be difficult. There is a tremendous shortage of health care providers. The programs at NAMI can help people while they wait for an appointment with a specialist. All NAMI services are free and do not require a referral.