Pages Navigation Menu

A publication for and about state employees

National Alliance on Mental Illness – NAMI-TM – CFD # 0315714

When COVID-19 crashed into our lives, Gov. Inslee asked all Washingtonians to “Stay home, stay safe.” However, for the one in five adults in the U.S. living with a mental health condition, staying home means eliminating social interactions: often desperately needed lifelines of support and care.

While Gov. Inslee’s mandate has slowed the pandemic, our collective mental health challenges have increased.

According to a Sept. 6 Washington Post story: “A growing number of U.S. adults are struggling with mental health issues linked to worry and stress over the novel coronavirus, increasing from 32 percent in March to 53 percent in July, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, for example, reached 40 percent this summer, up from 11 percent a year ago.”

“Everyone, especially teens and young adults, is struggling against an unseen enemy. Fear of the unknown results in anxiety,” says Marilyn Roberts, Director of Operations for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness for Thurston and Mason counties.

While we quarantine, Roberts receives dramatically increased requests for education programs from community members and local organizations; parents call needing support as they work at home and care for anxious, school-age kids. Senior citizens report feeling isolated and scared.

Two decades before the pandemic, NAMI TM responded to community mental health needs. The non-profit group offers weekly no-cost, peer-led, support groups for persons living with mental health conditions. An eight-week Family-to-Family class, for loved ones of a person with a mental health condition, brings families together to tell their stories, learn new skills and share supportive resources. Presentations like “In Our Own Voice” where speakers talk about their lived experience with a mental health condition; an opportunity to hear open and honest perspectives on a highly misunderstood topic and what recovery looks like for them.

A once-in-a-century pandemic has not stopped NAMI from continuing its mission to educate, support and advocate for community members who live with mental illness.  Instead of leaders and participants driving to a meeting place, everyone “logs on” from home, gathering in cyberspace using platforms like ZOOM and Microsoft Teams.

Roberts says: “NAMI’s works to reduces stigma and create hope through education and support. demonstrating people – our family and friends – can live with a mental health condition and still lead a happy, productive lives.”

468 ad