(Note: this guest post was written by Nancy Brooks, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Louisville)
I joined NAMI Louisville as their new Executive Director this time last year. I have had a rich non-profit management history in education, the arts and community development, but working with NAMI Louisville, I am being given the opportunity to make a difference in an area that greatly needs support. NAMI Louisville is working tirelessly to meet the very real challenges of a nation on the brink of a mental health crisis.
Never before have so many people been in need of mental health resources. Never before has the co-occurrence of substance abuse and addiction alongside mental illness been so critical. Never before has our nation seen such sad statistics associated with suicide. And never before have our children needed more support in their mental health.
NAMI Louisville, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has a mission to strengthen families and individuals affected by mental illness through education, support, and advocacy. We provide regular FREE educational classes and support groups for family, friends, and caregivers of those affected by mental health conditions, as well as support groups for individuals who are in recovery from their illness. We advocate at the local, state, and national levels to bring better funding and resources to those who need care. We are working to bring programming to those in our underserved West End and to our outlying counties, including those in Southern Indiana. We are rolling out new cutting edge programming for the workplace, for veterans, for those for whom English is a second language, and for the youth of our community, a group VERY much in need of our services.
Present statistics are bleak! One in five people will be affected by some form of mental health condition in any given year. Worse yet, suicide is now the second leading cause of death in children ages nine to 22. Mental Illness in youth is on the rise with substance abuse, self-harm and eating disorders rapidly increasing. These statistics alone are frightening, but often there is a 10-year delay in youth between the onset of their mental health condition and their finding a proper diagnosis. These children will be 50% more likely to drop out of high school, and 70% of our incarcerated youth have an underlying mental health condition.
NAMI is working to end the stigma associated with mental illness. We partner with healthcare providers, schools, businesses, government officials, community and church leaders, and more in an effort to bring awareness, resources, education, and support to the Kentuckiana community. More information on NAMI Louisville can be found on our website or by calling our office at (502) 588-2008. We are always in need of volunteers, community partners, and financial support.