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

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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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. 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 that 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 (National Alliance on Mental Illness) 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? NAMI offers many different trainings and support groups that can be found at 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 The

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NAMI Connection mental health support group would like to thank the Albert Lea United Way for offering a spacious meeting room in their new building space at 411 S. First Ave. in Albert Lea. Please email or call 507-552-0368 if you have any questions on the NAMI Freeborn County affiliate or the peer support group. Please be aware that the phone number is not answered by staff; however, please leave a message and someone will get back to you. This is not a crisis line, and if you are in crisis please call or text 988. 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.

411 S. First Ave., Albert Lea (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 an adult mental health case worker with the Freeborn County Department of Human Services.