ALBANY — The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Albany Foundation held its monthly meeting on Tuesday at the Advocacy Resource Center to discuss the different ways the community can help participate in NAMI events.

The alliance focuses on mental illness, which has become a serious crisis and is affecting people by the day.

NAMI Albany Program Coordinator Jere Brands said that she is hoping to get more community volunteers to become leaders in the organization to bring awareness of mental health issues.

“The people who have been trained for a NAMI program make up our leadership team,” Brands said. “We need for people who are working health fairs to not only be educated on mental health but to be educated about NAMI as well.”

Brands and AJ Parker, a volunteer leader, said that those who suffer with a mental illness do not have to fight alone, and that the battle is easier when family members who can speak the language of how to better deal with the sensitive issue are involved.

Other topics discussed included:

♦ The NAMI budget

♦ Upcoming events

♦ Leadership Development

♦ Outreach programs

♦ Membership

One big event discussed is the NAMI Walk scheduled Oct. 19.

In between preparing for the walk, NAMI’s volunteer leaders are setting up outreach programs throughout southwest Georgia to bring more focus to the mental health dilemma.

Thus far, NAMI’s outreach programs have reached more than 1,800 people in the community. Organization officials noted there are many people in the community who are unaware of the seriousness of mental illnesses.

“As NAMI Albany, we try to go to these health fairs and set up tables so that people can get more information on mental health,” Tosha Dean, NAMI Albany’s president, said. “Anything we can do for the mental health community, we try to do because we want to reach as many people as we can.”

Joining the NAMI Foundation can cost as little as $5 a year. To join or to find more information about taking a stand on mental health, people can visit www.namiga.org or call NAMI Albany directly at (229) 329-1444.

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