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Local organization is spreading awareness and breaking the stigma against mental illness

Posted at 9:31 AM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 10:31:09-04

BRYAN, TX — The pandemic has been full of ups and downs causing a roller coaster of emotions.

An organization in the Brazos Valley recognized this issue and is offering support for those who need it.

The greater National Alliance on Mental Illness is on a mission to provide support and education for families or individuals struggling with their mental health.

Before NAMI was established in 1979 many families struggled to locate resources.

“I grew up with a sister that was bipolar schizophrenic and unfortunately NAMI wasn’t here,” said Angie Bates, the Board President for NAMI Brazos Valley.

After watching her mother struggle with her sister and her battle with mental illness, Bates was inspired to give those in her community a better quality of support.

With a background in law enforcement, Bates has been able to educate law enforcement agencies and families on how to handle critical situations.

“When their loved one is having a crisis, they have the answers to critical questions that can help law enforcement better respond to this situation,” added Bates.

NAMI has been able to create a community of people who are able to support and understand one another.

”To be an instructor or board member with NAMI, you must have lived experience, which means either you have lived your own personal mental health journey, or you have been a family member,” said Daniel Owens, Executive Director for NAMI Brazos Valley. “Everybody has experienced this first-hand what it means to live in an area that is so low on mental health resources,”

According to Daniel Owens, the number of people calling the helpline doubled during the pandemic.

But this month has brought some relief.

“NAMI Brazos valley held its first in-person group this month and in almost a year, I guess it’s been over a year, held its first in-person group,” Owens shared.

NAMI serves all seven counties in the Brazos Valley. During the pandemic, a weekly zoom support group gave them the opportunity to reach more people in rural areas.

“The most important thing is to destigmatize our approach to mental health there are people who still struggle with mental health, but they don’t feel like they can actually come out and express it,” added Owens.

Currently, the organization is supporting Senate Bill 2051 which would require people suffering from serious mental illness to receive prescriptions that are best for them, instead of the medication that is cheapest for the insurance company

May is mental health awareness month.

As part of that NAMI, will host a luncheon Thursday at noon at the First United Methodist Church in Bryan where two speakers will share their lived experiences.