Juneau residents participate in a community mental health run, the Extra Tough 5K & 1 Mile Run, on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The run was sponsored by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Juneau. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)

Juneau residents participate in a community mental health run, the Extra Tough 5K & 1 Mile Run, on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The run was sponsored by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Juneau. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)

My Turn: Local resources and support to be aware of during Mental Health Awareness Month

Although it feels like it every month for us at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Juneau, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Take a Mental Health Moment” and I wanted to share some ways that NAMI Juneau can help you do just that.

Living with a mental health condition, supporting a loved one who is struggling with their mental health and being impacted by suicide loss are all experiences that can be very isolating. It’s not uncommon for individuals in all of these situations to struggle with shame, blaming ourselves, and a strong sense that there is no one else we can talk to who will really understand or be able to help. My hope is that this May you join us in taking a moment in your own community to talk about mental health in open and honest ways that support the spreading of helpful, isolation-breaking information.

Here at NAMI Juneau one way we like to break down this isolation is by supporting community building. We believe that having a sense of belonging is a crucial part of supporting our mental health and preventing suicide. We offer a variety of free programs and events throughout the year that build community in different ways.

One way we do this is by hosting peer-led support groups for anyone wanting to talk about their own mental health (Connections) and for family members who support a loved one with mental health conditions, regardless of diagnosis (Family Support Group). Our Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition also offers an ongoing support group for anyone whose life has been impacted by suicide (Survivors Support Group). You can find information about all of these groups (and much, much more) on our home page calendar at www.namijuneau.org.

While each of these groups is for people who have had differing experiences, they all have one major thing in common — they are designed to break down isolation and create a space where individuals can begin to feel less alone in whatever it is they are dealing with. Taking a moment for your mental health can mean many things, and we at NAMI Juneau especially enjoy the moments that foster connection, a sense of belonging and build community.

This May will you join us in taking a mental health moment and helping to spread the word about what NAMI Juneau has to offer? You could share this article with a friend, find us on Instagram and Facebook and share a post, join us for one of our support groups, and explore our website to sign up for our monthly newsletter and learn even more about the opportunities for mental health education and connection that we offer.

Anyone who is looking for mental health resources can also call us at (907) 463-4251 where we will support you in navigating www.juneaumentalhealth.org.

• Meryl Connelly-Chew is the program coordinator for NAMI Juneau.

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