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Improving Health Through Fighting Stigma

Posted by Ryan Morgan on January 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

NAMI

Tell Them‘s January social media campaign asks organizations, programs, and businesses in South Carolina, “What are you doing in 2014 to encourage healthier youth in SC?” By: Mandy Medlock, Director of Operations, NAMI Mid-Carolina The National Alliance on Mental Illness was started by two women, mothers – both of whom had sons living with chronic Mental Illness. As they leaned upon one another for support they realized the importance of their shared experience and the Family Support group was born. Gratefully, when I needed that support, NAMI Mid-Carolina was available. In 2003, I was struggling to raise two young children alone as my husband was quickly deteriorating due to his Bipolar Illness. During that year of chaos, someone suggested I attend a NAMI Family Support meeting and for the first time I realized I was no longer alone facing this battle. That shared experience, recognizing we’ve faced similar situations and survived, is the basis for what we do and how we reach others. In NAMI there is no shame and you are never alone. The number one priority at NAMI Mid-Carolina is to eliminate the stigma associated with Mental Illness. Mental Illnesses are biological illness; they are disorders of the brain and should be respected as such. Patients should not be shamed out of seeking treatment or asking for help, neither should their family members. Getting correct and up to date information regarding mental health is a consistent focus of NAMI. We offer the NAMI Family-to-Family class four times a year, knowing that recovery from a Mental Illness is a commitment for the entire family. We have two classes beginning the last week of January, to register, simply email me directly at mandy.namimidcarolina@gmail.com. As part of our education effort, we host a Monthly Education meeting, focused on topics relevant to mental health and open to the public – these are held the second Tuesday of each month 6pm at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church. NAMI Mid-Carolina offers support groups for those living with a Mental Illness in addition to the Family Support groups. All NAMI groups are led by peer trained facilitators – folks who are in recovery from their illnesses lead others along the path. Attendance requires no registration. We have numerous groups meeting throughout the Midlands area each week; the schedule can be located at www.namimidcarolina.org. Biological brain disorders are nothing to fear, rather they are illnesses which can be treated and from which one can recover. Recovery is possible and many succeed once dedicated to a persistent, holistic regimen. NAMI Mid-Carolina’s advocacy campaign in the Midlands of South Carolina is dedicated to spreading this message to eliminate stigma, fear, and misinformation regarding Mental Illness. With one in four Americans facing a mental health crisis during their lifetime, there is no shortage of work to be done. Our shared experience will keep the rooms of NAMI open and available for support; removing barriers to treatment and recovery, keeps NAMI Mid-Carolina vigilant, focused and inspired. Mandy Medlock is Director of Operations at NAMI Mid-Carolina, an organization that works to improve the treatment and quality of life for people who live with mental illnesses, their families, and the community through education, support and advocacy.

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