NAMI works to break down the stigma for mental illness

Local News

BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ) — Mental Health is a worry in every community and one program is working to break the stigma through education.

That group is Blair County’s National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

NAMI is doing this through support groups, presentations, and programs with the goal of making sure folks know they are not alone and that it’s okay to ask for help.

“We hide, we isolate, and we bury everything on ourselves, we’re our worst enemy,” Peer to Peer Program Participant Sunday Leaper said.

Leaper said this is how she felt while battling mental illness on her own, but then she reached out to the mental health awareness foundation, NAMI, and began the Peer-to-Peer program they offer.

“Was nervous when I first walked in, once I was introduced to everybody it kinda became family, overtime we got closer and closer, we got to learn more about each other,” Leaper said.

Pam Townsend became a facilitator of the powerful 8-week course after taking it herself.

“It’s not just teaching people about mental illness but it’s helping them learn about themselves and the process that they’ve gone through and experiencing things like what was it like when you were first diagnosed, what was it like for the treatment,” Townsend said.

The Executive Director of NAMI Aimee Burns said by educating community members they hope they can tear down the walls of the stigma for mental health.

“We have to be more understanding, we have to walk with them, we have to support them, and just have open arms and let them know there are so many other people out there that have similar issues and we can do this together,” Burns said.

While the Peer-to-Peer program has just wrapped up, NAMIS virtual program, Family to Family starts Thursday at 6 pm.

They also offer a family support group and NAMI connection recovery support group that meets every other Thursday at the Dope Drop-In Center. You can register for the program on their website.

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