Mental illness is arguably the most stigmatized kind of illness, and those who are diagnosed are often rejected by society. Because of this, many people who suffer from mental illnesses often feel isolated from their peers and are left with few people who understand what they are going through. This is where the Lansing chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness steps in.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a dedicated nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of those with mental illness and help their families cope. NAMI Lansing provides educational classes, support groups, community education and advocacy for individuals who need help in the Lansing area.
Founded as the Oasis Fellowship in 1974, the organization originally worked to address the housing needs of individuals who were leaving the state hospitals and returning to the community. Later, the Oasis Fellowship transitioned into the Alliance on Mental Illness, and joined the National Alliance on Mental Illness in 1999.
NAMI Lansing is open to individuals and the family members of anyone who is dealing with any kind of mental illness.
“We also have those who came to us with severe situations and have found help and recovery,” explained Margaret Keeler, vice president of NAMI Lansing. “Recovery for all is our goal. We share our stories, coping and suggestions for living.”
NAMI Lansing has a number of programs in place to help everyone who has been directly or indirectly affected by mental illness. A family support group led by trained family members is one of the many programs supported by the organization. Participants in this group share their stories and try to find better ways to support the people they love who are affected.
Other programs facilitated by NAMI Lansing include NAMI Connections, a weekly meeting for anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness that aims to help people find ways to manage their lives with an illness, and In Our Own Voice, a program that is presented to the general public to raise awareness for mental health issues.
“We have trained speakers and are willing to make presentations to any group who wishes to have a presentation on mental illness,” added Keeler.
NAMI Lansing is also facilitating NAMI Homefront, a class for families, partners and friends of military service members and veterans experiencing a mental health challenge. The course is designed specifically to help family members understand the challenges that veterans face and to show them how to support their loved ones.
For now, mental illness is still heavily stigmatized, but thanks to the work that NAMI Lansing is doing, those who suffer no longer have to feel alone.
For more information about NAMI Lansing, visit nami-lansing.org or call (517) 484-3404.