Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one's reputation. Imagine you suffer from panic attacks, or anxiety. Imagine you suffer from depression. People do not understand what you are going through; you face isolation, discrimination, and are told to “get over it.” The stigma surrounding mental illnesses is one of the main reasons people do not seek treatment or receive inadequate treatment. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Sarasota and Manatee Counties wants people in these situations to know, “You are NOT Alone."
There are more than 200 diagnosed mental illnesses. Some of the more common disorders are depression and anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. One in five individuals lives with a mental illness, and according to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2017, an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. Approximately 8.4 million Americans provide care to an adult with an emotional or mental illness. These health conditions do not just impact an individual and their family; depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in anxiety and stress for many of us, and it is time to start talking about the effects of mental illness in our society. The good news is mental health conditions, like many chronic physical health conditions, are manageable or treatable. Innovations in the range of evidence-based medications, therapy, and psychosocial services such as psychiatric rehabilitation, housing, employment, and peer supports have made wellness and recovery a reality for people living with mental health conditions.
NAMI Sarasota and Manatee Counties is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with mental illness as well as their families and caregivers. NAMI Sarasota and Manatee works with the community to accomplish this goal through support, education, awareness, and advocacy. NAMI’s support groups and education classes are free, confidential and peer led.
NAMI Family & Friends: In this 90-minute seminar, people who have loved ones with a mental health condition will learn how to best support them. It’s an opportunity to meet other people in a similar situation and gain community support.
NAMI Family Support Groups: Families helping other families who live with mental health challenges. Families join a caring group of individuals helping one another by utilizing their collective lived experiences and learned wisdom.
NAMI Basics: A 6-week education program for parents and family caregivers of children and teens who are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or whom have already been diagnosed.
NAMI Connection Peer Support Groups: Participants will gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others. It’s led by NAMI-trained facilitators who’ve been there. By sharing experiences in a safe and confidential setting, you gain hope and develop relationships. The group encourages empathy, productive discussion, and a sense of community.
For a full schedule of available groups and classes, visit www.namisarasotacounty.org.