Guest Column: Local NAMI affiliate offers support for those struggling with their mental health

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Guest Column by Sara Barnes

Mental Health Awareness Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health concerns and conditions in our community. As we continue to navigate through all the stress and uncertainty people are dealing with, our collective mental health is being adversely impacted. People continue to struggle with social isolation, financial upheaval and concern over their health and well-being and that of their families and friends.  We are truly living in an unprecedented time, which has caused us all to face unforeseen challenges. Widespread anxiety and fear is making mental health awareness and resources more relevant than ever before. It is an increasingly important time to inform people that mental health concerns are extremely common, and to support those who are experiencing them the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) indicates that one in five Americans will experience a mental illness at some point during their lives. This represents roughly 46 million people across the county. Mental illness is a medical condition which can impact the way a person thinks and feels.It should be emphasized that experiencing a mental health challenge is no different than seeking health care for diabetes, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol or any other medical concern. Mental health awareness is necessary, as it continues to reduce the stigma associated with mental health concerns, educates the public and encourages people to seek mental health services.

Sara Barnes

NAMI Minnesota is a nonprofit organization, with an affiliate in Freeborn County, dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families. Are you or someone you know struggling to find support for themselves or their loved ones, especially during these difficult times? NAMI offers many different trainings and support groups that can be found at NAMIMN.org. Locally here in Albert Lea, NAMI Freeborn County has a Peer Support Group. NAMI Connection is a weekly peer support group for people living with a mental health condition. Online support groups can also be found online at NAMIMN.org. The NAMI Connection mental health support group would like to thank the Albert Lea United Way for offering a spacious meeting room in their building in Albert Lea. Thanks also to a grant received from Freeborn-Mower Cooperative’s Round Up Program, we are also able to offer help with transportation to meetings so that everyone is able to attend when or if they need some extra support. Please email namifreeborncounty@gmail.com if you have any questions on the NAMI Freeborn County affiliate or the Peer Support Group. You can also find us on Facebook by searching NAMI Freeborn County. Message us there or like our page for more upcoming information and resources! NAMI Freeborn County is here to help. You are not alone.

NAMI Connection Peer Support Group

Every Wednesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

2610 Y.H. Hanson Ave. (Freeborn County United Way Office)

Look for the support group sign on the door. We always try to start and stop on time, but if you are running late please ring the doorbell and someone will come let you in.

Sara Barnes is a licensed social worker and adult mental health case manager for Freeborn County and co-facilitator of the Freeborn County affiliate of NAMI.