Thank you for promoting mental health in Juneau

Here’s how it’s helped.

  • Monday, January 3, 2022 1:23pm
  • Opinion

By Debbie Fagnant

My heart is filled with gratitude. Our little nonprofit recently benefitted from the generosity a of our community, which will enable NAMI Juneau to continue providing mental health support to Juneau. NAMI Juneau traditionally hosts Comedy for a Cause, a delightful fundraising evening of humorous storytelling. This event raised enough to fill the gaps in our budget.

The ongoing pandemic necessitated that we rethink our fundraising plan. In response to COVID-19, we set up an online auction, Lights of Hope. Thanks to the generosity of Juneau, we not only met our fundraising goal, we exceeded it!

Your support came in many ways! One donor offered her time to do a jogging tour of downtown. Another offered to take people out to pick mushrooms. We had people offer stunning jewelry, delicious food, lovely quilts, and gift certificates to favorite stores in Juneau. The contributions from the people of Juneau highlight the creativity and generosity of our community

Our bidders were equally generous. Many went from hoping for a good deal in the auction to deciding to bid over the value of the item and support NAMI Juneau’s fundraising efforts.

We are excited to invest this money into our work. We have already begun plans to expand our youth mental health programming, highlighted by a new pilot program of small group discussions for middle school students. We also support the mental health workforce by training people to become certified Peer Support Specialists, allowing them to use their lived experience with mental health to help others.

These new programs are in addition to our usual work. In the past year, we have:

— Presented 90 times to over 3,000 people

—Helped 9,000 people navigate mental health services in Juneau through our websites, over phone and email

—Advocated for mental health services with the state legislature

— Partnered with 37 different community organizations

—Directly helped over 500 people via support groups, classes or applying for assistance.

I would like to highlight and promote our support groups. These groups are for people who want to drop-in and talk about their own mental health challenges, or to learn to better support a loved one who is struggling with mental health. They do not require any commitment — all are welcome to attend as needed. The benefits of attendance are significant – you get both the relief of knowing that you are not alone in your experience and you gain the collective wisdom of all participants. I have found great benefit in attending our support groups over the years. Information on meetings can be found on our website https://www.namijuneau.org/support-groups.

These programs are timely. We know people are struggling right now due to the diminished sunlight, holiday stress, the pandemic, and the unpredictable nature of mental illness. Please call our office (463-4251) if you need help locating resources. Our mission is to help people impacted by mental illness lead better lives.

Your support of our auction is validation of our work, and that speaks to the compassion shown by people of Juneau for those who are struggling. Thank you for joining us to support mental health. Happy New Year!

• Debbie Fagnant is a retired teacher who is currently the board president of NAMI Juneau. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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