Justin Richardson, a pharmacy technician with Bartlett Regional Hospital, prepares the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 15, 2020. Healthcare professionals are just one group of caregivers that the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition and the National Alliance on Mental Illness- Juneau hopes to recognize with the opportunity for members of the public to nominate anyone in any walk of life who’s gone above and beyond during the pandemic. (Courtesy photo / Katie Bausler)

Justin Richardson, a pharmacy technician with Bartlett Regional Hospital, prepares the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 15, 2020. Healthcare professionals are just one group of caregivers that the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition and the National Alliance on Mental Illness- Juneau hopes to recognize with the opportunity for members of the public to nominate anyone in any walk of life who’s gone above and beyond during the pandemic. (Courtesy photo / Katie Bausler)

Mental health groups hold Care for the Caregivers event

Nominess will be announced on Valentine’s Day

As the pandemic wears on, local mental health advocacy organizations are holding an event for people to nominate caregivers in Juneau for recognition for their hard work and mental sacrifice.

The Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition and the National Alliance on Mental Illness- Juneau are partnering to solicit nominations from the community for 50 caregivers across all walks of the community to recognize them with their Care for the Caregivers event, said Tina DeAsis-Wright, JPSC’s program coordinator. “We are reaching out to appreciate our caregivers. It’s a little nomination type thing. We know there’s this national story about how to provide care for the caregivers.”

According to American Psychiatric Association, nearly half of health care workers had reported serious psychiatric symptoms during the pandemic. But not all caregivers are strictly health care professionals, said Karlene Kuhn, NAMI’s program coordinator.

“For this nomination, a caregiver is any individual who offers their courage, strength, and self-sacrifice in service to others,” Kuhn said in an email. “Those people who are giving a little more right now.”

The nominations will be accepted online beginning Feb. 1 until Feb. 14, when the first 50 nominees will receive recognition and a gift card for coffee. The organizations hope that this will raise awareness of the weight of the job on those bearing the brunt.

“It’s taking a toll on them as well,” DaAsis-Wright said. “We really wanted to recognize that and those people who are showing up at great expense to themselves.”

While this is the first of such events, the hope is that it’ll inspire others to recognize those giving of themselves to serve the community. DeAsis-Wright said that they hope other groups will follow suit in recognizing caregivers.

“Yes, we have a vaccine and the vaccine is gonna help stop the spread of COVID,” Kuhn said. “But the vaccine isn’t going to do anything for the mental health of caregivers.”

Both JSPC and NAMI are accepting donations to contribute to the gifts given to the nominees at their websites. Resources for those who want more information on mental health resources are also available there.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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