Recently members of the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) presented a program at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino. Here is a portion of that presentation, “The Power of Support:”
Mental Illness Statistics
• Mental illness represents the biggest economic burden of any health issue in the world
• 1 in 5 adults in U.S. experience a mental illness
• 1 in 25 or 10 million live with serious mental illness
• One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14
• Three-quarters of all chronic mental illness begins by age 24
• 1.1 percent live with schizophrenia
• 2.6 percent of adults live with bipolar disorder
• 6.9 percent live with major depression
• 18.1 percent live with anxiety disorders
• Suicide rates rose in all but one state
• Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in ages 15-34
So what do these statistics look like applied to Payson? With a population of 15,476 in 2016, statistics indicate 170 people would have schizophrenia; 402 would have bipolar disorder; 1,068 would be suffering with major depression; and 2,801 would have anxiety disorders.
For people with mental illness, it can be difficult to maneuver across the stream of life. Without proper support, individuals may find themselves in crisis (homeless, incarcerated, in dysfunctional family situations, exhibiting self-harming behaviors like substance abuse, or living a life of lost potential) and therefore, falling into the stream.
With proper support people with mental illness can safely maneuver through the rapids, stepping on the rocks, and making it to the other side of the stream. NAMI Payson offers support at three levels: advocacy, support group, and education.
• Advocacy: NAMI supports efforts in the community to increase awareness and decrease stigma. NAMI also encourages lawmakers to improve the mental health system.
• Support Groups: NAMI offers support meetings for those with mental illness (peers) as well as family and close friends of people with serious mental illness. NAMI also helps to identify resources.
• Education: NAMI offers family education and peer education, hosting presentations at membership meetings about resources in our community and issues related to mental illness. NAMI’s educational components include four program offerings:
- NAMI Family-to-Family is a free, 12-session educational program for family, significant others and friends of people living with mental illness. Research shows that the program significantly improves the coping and problem-solving abilities of the people closest to an individual living with a mental health condition.
NAMI Family-to-Family is taught by NAMI-trained family members who have been there.
- Peer-to-Peer Recovery Education Course is based upon the hope that recovery is possible. It includes education that empowers people to make better choices.
NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer program is designed for people living with serious mental illness who want to maintain their wellness and recovery. The program is led by a team of two trained mentors who are personally experienced in living well with mental illness.
Peer-to-Peer participants attend 10, two-hour courses and address the way mental illness can impact their personal and professional lives, relationships, legal and health concerns. They work through mindfulness exercises, plans for relapse prevention and develop skills for communicating with their mental health providers.
- NAMI Basics is a free, six-week education program for parents and family caregivers of children and teens who are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or who have already been diagnosed. NAMI Basics is offered in a group setting so you can connect with other people face-to-face and learn the facts about mental health conditions and how best to support your child at home, at school and when they are getting medical care. The course is taught by a trained team with real-life experience — they know what you are going through because they have been there. The six-session program provides critical strategies for taking care of your child and learning the ropes of recovery.
- NAMI Homefront is a free, six-session educational program for families, caregivers and friends of military service members and vets with mental health conditions. Based on the nationally recognized NAMI Family-to-Family program, NAMI Homefront is designed to address the unique needs of family, caregivers and friends of those who have served or are currently serving our country. The program is taught by trained family members of service members/veterans living with mental health conditions. This program should be launched in 2019.
NAMI also hosts two monthly support groups: Family Support Group and Connection Recovery Support Groups.
The Family Support Group is a confidential support group for loved ones of individuals living with mental illness. A loved one of a person with mental illness faces unique challenges: complex family dynamics, social isolation and often-unpredictable aspects of the illness. Through NAMI Family Support Group you will gain support from peers who understand your experience as well as insight into the challenges and successes of others. It is open to adults with loved ones who live with mental illness and is free to participants. It meets 60 or 90 minutes weekly or monthly and is led by trained family members of individuals living with mental illness. No specific medical therapy or medication is endorsed or recommended.
Principles of Support
• We will see the individual first, not the illness.
• We recognize that mental illnesses are medical illnesses that may have environmental triggers.
• We understand that mental illnesses are traumatic events.
• We aim for better coping skills.
• We find strength in sharing experiences.
• We reject stigma and do not tolerate discrimination.
• We won’t judge anyone’s pain as less than our own.
• We forgive ourselves and reject guilt.
• We embrace humor as healthy.
• We accept that we cannot solve all problems.
• We expect a better future in a realistic way.
• We will never give up hope.
NAMI has three programs to bring about change, including:
• In Our Own Voice: Presenters discuss their personal perspective of mental illness, and talk openly about what it is like to live with a mental health condition. The goal of these presentations is to change attitudes, assumptions and stereotypes about people with mental health conditions.
• Ending the Silence: An engaging presentation that helps audience members learn about the warning signs of mental health conditions and what steps to take if you or a loved one are showing symptoms of a mental illness.
Why ending the silence matters — 13 percent of children ages 8 to 15 experience a mental health condition; 13 to 20 percent of children living in the U.S. (one out of five children) experience a mental health condition in a given year; 50 percent of children ages 8 to 15 experiencing a mental health condition don’t receive treatment; 17 percent of high school students seriously consider suicide; half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.
Despite effective treatments there are long delays — sometimes decades — between the onset of symptoms and treatment.