Support and Mental Health
By Krista Jenkins, Vice President of Development and Community Partnerships at NAMI Rochester
In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, we sat down with one of our friends over at NAMI Rochester (National Alliance on Mental Health) to learn more about community support and the impact it has on our mental health:
Happy May, Mental Health Awareness Month! May is a perfect time to pause and reflect on how you are doing, on the progress you’ve made, and opportunities for continued growth and flourishing.
Wherever you are on your journey, we hope you have a robust mental health toolkit. Therapy, medication, and other clinical treatments are vital for many people (and we fully support talking with your care team if you think you’d benefit from them!). But like other physical health conditions, we can nourish and support our mental health in non-clinical ways, too!
At NAMI Rochester, we love community support – spending time and connecting with a network of people who have a similar experience as you. While you can only spend so many hours receiving direct care from a clinician, you can maximize time spent with a supportive community to keep moving forward on your mental health journey.
So, what are some examples of community support? At NAMI Rochester, we offer many support groups based on experience, including groups for peers who live with mental illness, groups for families and parents, and groups for people who have experienced loss.
Being part of a support group can provide a safe space for you to share your experiences without worrying about being judged. Mental illness is often stigmatized, and it can feel tough to talk about your experiences with people who don't get it, but in a supportive community, you can open up and feel heard and validated. Finding people who've experienced the same things as you can help you feel less isolated. You'll realize that you're not alone.
We also host community programs like yoga, meditation, journaling workshops, and more at NAMI Rochester. Our hope is that we offer tangible tools for self-care while also providing a space for community members to gather and get to know one another. Some folks come to NAMI Rochester for the first time to attend a free yoga class. When they hear conversations about mental health and illness, they might pick up a community resource card. Should they need further care and support, they now have more information on how to move forward.
Mental health can be complicated, and it can be tough to know where to turn for help. In a community of people who've been there, you can find information and resources to help you take the next step on your journey. An encouraging word from a support group, friend, or a helpful resource card from NAMI Rochester can go a long way.
The best part about community support is we can all play a role. “Community” might be a group gathered at NAMI Rochester, but it can also be your workplace, school, place of worship, family, or friends. If each person experiencing a mental health challenge had just one person they felt they could lean on, the results would be revolutionary.
We know that our impact is greatest when we work together. Your sphere of influence is unique and important. For your family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones, YOU are the mental health support they need. You share community resources, create safe spaces for connection, and extend messages of hope. This is both a gift and a responsibility. And if you’re reading this today, chances are you provide that loving support to the communities you are part of.
One of my favorites moments of community is the 1,000+ gathered at the annual NAMI Rochester Walk for Mental Health, taking place this year on Saturday May 20th. At the NAMI Rochester Walk, we move together in celebration of community, hope, and recovery. We remember loved ones we’ve lost. We boldly declare that mental health is health. We show one another that we are not alone.
Register for free and invite your friends, family or colleagues to walk in solidarity for the Mental Health Revolution! Will you join us? It would be an honor to welcome you into the NAMI family!