HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Here at WZDX, we know these are difficult times for all of us. Every Monday, we talk to professionals about some of the things you and your loved ones could be struggling with every day.
For this week's ‘Mental Health Monday’ we’re shedding a light on an organization that has helped educate people in the valley about mental illnesses. This group tells us they have a bold hope for the future.
NAMI Huntsville provides programs free of charge to those affected by mental health illnesses in the Valley.
This relatively small organization is doing some big work, and has even bigger goals. One in particular that— one day—could change our community; and the lives of the people living in it.
We spoke with Elizabeth Springfield, President of NAMI Huntsville. When asked about the impact of dealing with a mental illness or caring for someone who is mentally ill, Springfield tells our reporter, “It can be exasperating. And it can be very heartbreaking too. But, when you get to the point where you realize it’s really an illness. It’s an illness that affects perception and behavior. But, it’s an illness.
The Huntsville affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers programs, like family to family counseling, to educate people about the impacts of living with a mental illness, treatment options, and how to best care for a loved one who has an illness.
Elizabeth Springfield says, it’s important for people to know this help is available, even if they don’t think they need it. She adds, “It could be your family next. Or it could be your neighbors family next…And the more people who join NAMI and get served by NAMI, the more we can train facilitators and really what we could potentially do to serve the community is exponentially bigger than what what we’re able to now.”
NAMI hopes to one day open a ‘Clubhouse’, or a living facility for adults with mental illnesses in Huntsville, where they receive treatment and seek job opportunities.
They believe a program like this could be essential in the progress of neighbors.
We spoke with Jerome Baudry, a NAMI Board Member and Professor UAH who conducts research on mental illnesses. Baudry says, “It is in many ways it is a disease of loneliness, a disease of discouragement -- not always, but it can be. So, having the support of others, like anything else in life, is really something that matters.”
They say, this ‘Clubhouse’ could help the community as a whole. Jerome Baudry adds, “They’re all very valuable members, very creative, smart resourceful parts of our community… It’s not only the right thing to do from a moral point of view. But, also the smart thing to do. We all benefit from more integration.”
It’s a big goal, one with an even bigger bottom line.
We spoke with Laura Dunaway, the Resource Development Manager with NAMI. She handles all fundraising and financial “Right now we have very big goals in what we want to raise. It’s much more than NAMI Huntsville has raised in the past. And with the pandemic, it’s much harder than it could be to raise this amount of money. So, with community support, we’ll be able to get the amount of money we need to offer more programs to bring a ‘Clubhouse’ to Huntsville and also to help out with the crisis center that’s going to be coming to Huntsville as well.”
NAMI is hosting a virtual “NAMI Huntsville Variety Show” for their annual Mental Health Charity Fundraiser. Local talent will be featured. You can buy tickets on their website or Facebook page.
Local and national help is available for people struggling with mental health issues or who may be contemplating suicide. If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, help is available by phone, text, or chat.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255 1-800-273-TALK
Free, confidential crisis counseling 24/7/365. You don’t have to be suicidal to call.
Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio 888-628-9454
Veterans Crisis Line 800-273-8255 or text 838255
Options for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing 800-799-4889
Disaster Distress Helpline 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
Crisis Services North Alabama 256-716-1000 or 1-800-691-8426
National Alliance on Mental Illness 800-950-NAMI or text NAMI to 741741
TrevorLifeline 866-488-7386 staffed 24/7
TrevorChat Click here for online instant messaging with a TrevorChat counselor, 7 days a week, 3pm-10pm EST
TrevorText Text TREVOR to 202-304-1200 7 days a week, 3pm-10pm EST
ImAlive.org 800-SUICIDE or Click here to Chat Now