"Know Your Org" is an informational series designed to spotlight some of the wonderful organizations in our community. This month we are highlighting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Michigan.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a time to raise awareness regarding this stigmatized and taboo subject. We spoke to Sherri Solomon, First Vice President of NAMI Metro, regarding their work here in Metro Detroit.
Mental Illness is Part of Life and Stigma Stagnates Help
According to a 2021 U.S. Health and Human Services study, one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year while one in six or 17% of U.S. youths, ages 6-17, experience a mental disorder each year. Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youths aged 10-14 and the third leading cause of death for those aged 15-24—and it can result from untreated mental illness. The statistics regarding mental illness can be both daunting and revealing regarding how prevalent the issue is at this point in time.
One issue that complicates mental illness is stigma, which can delay proper diagnosis and treatment. Although mental health is better understood and supported than in the past, fear of rejection because of mental illnesses is still prevalent. Some statistics show that treatment can be delayed eight to 10 years because of stigma.
Advocacy, Education and Support
NAMI Metro is an all-volunteer run organization whose mission is to advocate, educate and support people who are suffering from mental illness and their families. The ultimate goal is to help people live a full and meaningful life and to prevent suicide.
There are many services that NAMI provides including a family education series that helps people navigate how to help their loved ones and support groups that meet monthly for both patients and families. Additionally, NAMI provides “In Our Own Voice” presentations that feature a panel of participants in recovery from mental illness who speak about their experiences. These presentations show what can be achieved and aim to help people and their families not give up on their treatments and support.
Finally, there are volunteer run help lines available to connect people to resources and help patients and their families start navigating the right path.
The Most Important Takeaway
When asked what one thing everyone should know about NAMI, Sherri stated that people should know that they are not alone. NAMI is an amazing support resource for anyone who is suffering from a mental illness or for a family member advocating for their loved one. No one should suffer alone, and NAMI is here to help.
If you or your loved one needs help and you live in the Metro Detroit area, here are some help lines for you.
NAMI Metro Help Line: 248-773-2296
Wayne County: 800-241-4949
Oakland County: 800-231-1127
Macomb County: 586-307-9100
Suicide and Crisis Hotline
Other Helping Services
Call 211 to learn about and access community services and resources.